Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Campaigns push finance reform

[media-credit name=’BEN CLASSON/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]PressConference_BC[/media-credit]

The fight over campaign finance reform
in Wisconsin resounded in the Capitol Monday as national groups urged
the Assembly to consider public funding of state Supreme Court races.

Representatives of the Justice at Stake
Campaign, the Reform Institute and the Committee for Economic
Development advocated the changes, passed last week by the state
Senate, which is now on the Assembly?s plate for consideration.


Bert Brandenburg, executive director of
the Justice at Stake Campaign, said a poll conducted by ?respected
Republican national polling firm? American Viewpoint showed 78
percent of Wisconsin voters believe campaign contributions influence
decisions in the courtroom, according to a transcript of his remarks.

?As the new politics of judicial
elections has spiraled out of control around the country, business
leaders and ordinary citizens are demanding real solutions to keep
cash out of the courtroom,? Brandenburg said.

Brandenburg added business leaders are
ready to get out of the ?judicial elections arms race.?

According to Chris Dreibelbis,
communications director for the Reform Institute, it is not unusual
for state elected officials to be resistant to campaign finance
reform legislation.

?They?re usually pretty happy with
the system as it is because they were elected under that system,?
Dreibelbis said. ?They think, ?Why should we change this, because
it?s benefited us already.??

State Rep. Steve Hilgenberg,
D-Dodgeville, a year ago introduced to the Assembly legislation
similar to what the Senate just passed because ?people are looking
for an impartial judiciary,? he said.

?People have been asking for this for
quite a while now, and a small number of people have been working to
keep it off,? Hilgenberg said.

High levels of campaign spending often
hurt the public?s confidence in government, according to

?Special interest people expect $10
back for every dollar they spend now in legislation that will help
them down the road, and certainly the public thinks this is the
case,? he said.

According to Hilgenberg, it is up to
legislators to restore public confidence in the system.

?That?s one of the reasons I wanted
to run for office, not just to make the esteem of elected officials
go up but to help people believe in the Legislature again.?

Hilgenberg faulted Assembly leadership
for a light floor schedule and not addressing important issues like
this one.

?It?s time that we tried to do
something about it,? he said.

If enacted, the legislation recently
passed by the Senate would make candidates in contested Supreme Court
races eligible for public funding and limit other contributions they
could accept, which Hilgenberg hopes would limit spending in local

?If they?d limit spending, it would
eliminate some of the 30-second TV ads and give people a chance to
see people stand up and answer questions on the spot,? Hilgenberg

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 *