Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Advertisements
Advertisements

Lawmakers debate judicial campaign finance regulations

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]CampaignFinance_JS[/media-credit]A Senate committee discussed legislation Tuesday that would reform campaign finance regulations for state Supreme Court candidates.

One bill would increase public financing for judicial candidates and another would impose regulations on issue advertising, in which advertisements comment on issues rather than candidates.

State Sen. Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls, a sponsor of the public financing bill, said it would ensure the impartiality of candidates' decisions.

Advertisements

The proposed bill would increase the amount of tax money available to candidates running for the Supreme Court in primary and general elections.

"It's a way of putting elections back into the hands of people," Kreitlow said at the hearing.

Opponents of the bill said it would not be fair for the citizens of Wisconsin to pay for the campaigns of Supreme Court candidates whom they may not support.

However, others in attendance testified in favor of the legislation.

Angela Dentice, of the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, said the organization's board of directors has endorsed the bills since it is concerned with the escalating cost of elections.

"Financing raises questions of bias and honesty," Dentice said.

The second bill discussed, which faces powerful opposition from many lobbying groups, would regulate political ads and require nonpolitical groups to disclose certain information of donors.

Under current law, outside interest groups may advertise issues without reporting financial information to the Wisconsin Elections Board.

Under the proposed bill, organizations that do not comply could be subject to penalties.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said advertisers would be less likely to create sensationalist propaganda if they have to disclose their identities.

Susan Armacost, legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life, opposed the bill and said Wisconsin has no need for "speech nannies."

She said the organization does not endorse or support candidates, but instead raises awareness in subjects relevant to the elections.

Many members' participation is based upon anonymity, Armacost added, and said they would be less likely to join organizations if their information would have to be disclosed.

The committee also heard testimony regarding the "Judicial Right-to-Know Act," which would require county clerks to inform parties in a lawsuit of any conflicts of interest the presiding judge may have.

Legislators said the bill is a response to the current controversy surrounding state Supreme Court Justice-elect Annette Ziegler over her hearing of several cases involving a bank that employed her husband on its board of directors.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *