Tag: money in politics

Donald Trump violates U.S. federal election laws by sending fundraising emails to foreign politicians

Current and/or former elected officials in no fewer than six foreign countries have received campaign fundraising emails from the campaign of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. The countries in which current and/or former elected officials have received fundraising solicitations from Trump include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. In at least one case, a former head of government of a foreign country received a fundraising solicitation from Trump.

Trump has only recently started using emails to solicit campaign donations, and it first became clear that the Trump campaign’s email list had serious flaws when Katherine Clark, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party, received a Trump email, despite the fact that Clark is a known supporter of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. However, no laws were violated by Trump when his campaign sent an fundraising solicitation to Clark, because Clark is a United States citizen.

However, numerous current and former members of parliament in at least six foreign countries have clearly indicated that the Trump campaign has sent fundraising solicitations to individuals who are not United States citizens. Under the federal election laws of the United States, it is illegal for an American presidential candidate to solicit campaign donations from individuals who are not United States citizens.

At least two members of the Australian House of Representatives, Tim Watts and Joanne Ryan, reported via Twitter that they had received emails from the Trump campaign asking for campaign donations:

Both Watts and Ryan are members of the Australian Labour Party.

In case you are wondering who the former head of government who received a Trump campaign fundraising email is, it is former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who was the last member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which is now defunct, to serve as prime minister:

The fact that the Trump campaign tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, which is not owned by Trump, to Campbell for a big discount proves that the Trump campaign is completely incompetent.

Ida Auken, a member of the Danish Parliament, also received a fundraising email from Trump:

Auken is a member of the Danish Social Liberal Party.

Anders Adlercreutz, a member of the Parliament of Finland, confirmed to Josh Marshall of the American political website Talking Points Memo that members of the Finnish Parliament have received Trump fundraising emails:

Adlercreutz is a member of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

The Iceland Monitor has reported that Katrín Jakobsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, was one of at least three members of the Icelandic Parliament to receive campaign fundraising emails from Trump. Jakobsdóttir is the leader of the Icelandic Left-Green Alliance.

However, the strongest critic of the Trump fundraising emails to foreign politicians is Natalie McGarry, a member of the British House of Commons from the Glasgow area in Scotland. After receiving a fundraising email from Donald Trump, Jr., who was acting on behalf of his dad’s presidential campaign, McGarry wrote a response to the younger Trump in which she strongly criticized the elder Trump’s hateful, bigoted rhetoric and told the younger Trump that she hoped that American voters “reject your father fundamentally at the ballot box”. McGarry is not a member of any political party, although she was a member of the Scottish National Party until 2015. An online friend of mine posted to her social media page McGarry’s letter to the younger Trump, and it has been shared online over 1,700 times:

None of the foreign elected officials donated any money to Trump, to the best of my knowledge.

Donald Trump has proven that his presidential campaign is absolutely incompetent when it comes to operating an email list, and he has broken the law by attempting to solicit campaign donations from foreign politicians.

ENDORSEMENT: Zephyr Teachout for 19th Congressional District of New York

I proudly endorse Zephyr Rain Teachout for the Democratic nomination in the 19th Congressional District of New York.

My endorsement of Zephyr is not based on the fact that she has the coolest name in American politics (she certainly does) or because of the cool outfits she wears in parades across her congressional district (see here and here), it’s because she’s an absolutely awesome person. If elected to Congress, nobody, and I mean nobody, will be a stronger and more effective advocate for removing the undue influence of big money in American politics than Zephyr. Zephyr is one of only two congressional candidates in the entire country that I’m aware of (the other being 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin candidate Sarah Lloyd) who has openly talked about how free-trade deals have hurt farmers and rural America. Zephyr is the only congressional candidate that I’m aware of who has talked about how large companies have locked away technologies that can be used by small businesses. Zephyr understands that climate change is real, and that real solutions are needed to curb or reverse global warming.

Zephyr has the Working Families Party line and faces Will Yandik in the Democratic primary, and the winner of the primary will face Republican opposition from the winner of a contested primary between John Faso (who has the Conservative, Independence, and Reform Party lines), Andrew Heaney, and Bob Bishop. I strongly encourage New York Democrats to vote for Zephyr Teachout on June 28. You can view Zephyr’s campaign website here, and she’s also on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Democrats who took Donald Trump’s money

I absolutely hate Ted Cruz’s guts. As a candidate for president, he has openly supported religious discrimination and does not believe in separation of church and state, for starters. He’s also what I consider to be the least electable Republican presidential candidate, except for maybe Jeb Bush or Ben Carson.

However, I will say one thing favorably about Ted Cruz, and that is the fact that his campaign is going after Donald Trump for propping up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party with his checkbook for many years. Granted, Cruz’s people aren’t all that great at spelling and grammar, but here’s the individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party in some way, shape, and form:

  • Jimmy Carter – $1,000 – Carter was the 39th President of the United States, elected in 1976, lost re-election in 1980. Carter has not sought public office of any kind since losing the presidency. Carter has actually built a progressive reputation since leaving the White House, although he did deregulate the airline industry and gave out a huge capital gains tax cut to the wealthy as President.
  • Max Baucus – $2,000 – Baucus was appointed to the U.S. Senate after originally being elected to it in 1978 and represented Montana in the Senate until 2014, when he resigned to take a political appointment from President Barack Obama in order to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was notorious for being a virulent opponent of single-payer health care during his time in the Senate.
  • Shelley Berkley – $1,000 – Berkley served seven terms in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2013. Berkley represented the Las Vegas area of Nevada, where Trump has substantial business interests, in the House.
  • Joe Biden – $1,000 – Biden, who is from Delaware and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for decades, is currently Vice President of the United States. Vice President Biden ran for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, losing both times; in fact, his first presidential campaign was derailed after he was caught plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
  • Erskine Bowles – $1,000 – Bowles, who is from North Carolina, served in multiple positions in the Bill Clinton Administration, and he also ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina twice, losing both times. Bowles was one of the architects of the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan that included, among other things, cutting Social Security benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton – $9,500 – Hillary was a First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York, and a U.S. Secretary of State. New York is Trump’s home state and a state where Trump has significant business interests. Hillary is currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running against single-payer health care and reinstating Glass-Steagall financial regulations that kept commercial and investment banks separate. As Secretary of State, Hillary helped develop the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade giveaway that would allow Vietnam, a country where the average worker is paid far less than the average worker here in the U.S., to effectively dictate U.S. domestic policy by allowing investors to sue in special courts. Hillary also ran a presidential campaign in 2008, losing the Democratic nomination to now-President Obama after, among other things, she pandered to white racists throughout her campaign.
  • Tom Daschle – $4,000 – Daschle, who is from South Dakota, is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and he was Senate Minority Leader when he was defeated in the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota. Daschle was a lobbyist for the health care industry after leaving elected office, and he wrote a book opposing single-payer health care.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – $116,000 – The DSCC is an entity established by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for Senate seats.
  • Chris Dodd – $3,000 – Dodd is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd ran for president in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and he’s now a lobbyist for the movie industry.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC) – $15,000 – The DNC is the main national organization of the Democratic Party, currently chaired by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC has openly tried to sabotage the Sanders presidential campaign, most notably by briefly cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter file in violation of the contract between the Sanders campaign and the DNC vendor responsible for maintaining the DNC’s voter file.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $46,050 – The DCCC is an entity established by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for House seats. The DCCC ran web ads promoting President Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security benefits in 2013.
  • Dick Durbin – $1,500 – Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, representing Illinois. Illinois is a state where Trump has significant business interests.
  • Fritz Hollings – $3,000 – Hollings was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina for nearly four decades. Hollings had a history of making racist and anti-Semitic comments as a Senator. Hollings voted against the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Ted Kennedy – $7,000 – Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for over four and a half decades before dying in office in 2009. Kennedy ran against then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primaries and caucuses, losing the nomination to Carter. Kennedy supported the 2007 George W. Bush-backed immigration reform plan that would have established slavery-like guest worker programs, and he also supported the 2001 No Child Left Behind law that destroyed public education in America.
  • Patrick Kennedy – $2,500 – Kennedy, who is a son of Ted Kennedy, represented parts of Rhode Island in the U.S. House for nearly two decades. Kennedy is also a former DCCC chairman.
  • Harry Reid – $8,400 – Reid is currently U.S. Senate Minority Leader, representing Nevada in the Senate. Reid has publicly praised Trump in recent months, and he has called for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which protects abortion and reproductive rights, to be overturned.
  • Rahm Emanuel – $50,000 – Emanuel is currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and, before that, he was a U.S. Representative and a DCCC chairman. Prior to his first mayoral bid, he was President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. Rahm played a role in the cover-up of the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald, and he’s strongly supported privatizing city government services in Chicago.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand – $4,800 – Gillibrand currently represents New York in the U.S. Senate.
  • Terry McAuliffe – $25,000 – McAuliffe is currently the Governor of Virginia. Prior to that, he was the DNC chairman the last time that the Democratic presidential nominee lost a general election for president.
  • Elliot Spitzer – $21,000 – Spitzer was Governor of New York for a little more than a year from 2007 to 2008 before resigning from office after his involvement in prostitution became public knowledge. Spitzer ran for New York City Comptroller in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary.
  • Andrew Cuomo – $84,000 – Cuomo is the current Governor of New York. Cuomo is very right-wing on economic issues, including openly railing against public employee unions and supporting tax breaks for businesses. Cuomo disbanded a special commission that he established to root out corruption in New York State politics after the commission was actually doing its job.
  • David Dinkins – $7,750 – Dinkins was Mayor of New York City, New York for four years in the early 1990’s. Dinkins lost re-election in 1993 to Republican police brutality apologist Rudy Guiliani.
  • Chuck Schumer – $7,900 – Schumer is currently the senior U.S. Senator from New York. Schumer has publicly opposed the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that is designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
  • New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) – $116,000 – The NYSDC is the official state-level Democratic Party organization for New York State. In it’s current form, the NYSDC has acted as an arm’s length organization of corrupt New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Anthony Weiner – $4,450 – Weiner has also gone under the alias Carlos Danger. Weiner was U.S. Representative from New York City for over a decade until he was forced to resign after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to a female follower of Weiner’s Twitter page. Weiner ran in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, losing the Democratic primary after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a different woman.
  • John Kerry – $5,500 – Kerry is the current U.S. Secretary of State. Prior to being appointed by President Obama to the Secretary of State’s post, Kerry served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for nearly three decades, and, before that, Kerry was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts for nearly two years. Kerry also ran for President in 2004, losing to Republican incumbent George W. Bush. To this day, Kerry is the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose a general election for president.
  • Joe Lieberman – $4,000 – Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006, when he ran under Connecticut for Lieberman political party banner after losing the Democratic primary in his re-election bid, and Lieberman went on to win the general election that year. Lieberman also was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee on the unsuccessful Al Gore/Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, and Lieberman himself ran for president in 2004, losing the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has publicly supported Republicans, including speaking at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice-president, a ticket that went on to lose in a landslide to the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket.
  • Carolyn Maloney – $4,000 – Maloney has represented parts of New York City in the U.S. House since 1993.
  • Bill Nelson – $2,000 – Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2001. Nelson was the only Democratic Senator to vote against defunding the torture programs that were run by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in committee in 2007.

Donald Trump has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party for decades. Now, he’s running for the Republican nomination on a platform of bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white racist, enacting Nazi Gemrany-like measures against Muslims, and giving tax breaks to rich people like himself. I encourage people to vote and caucus for Bernie Sanders, if their state has not already held a Democratic presidential nomination contest, in order to send a loud and clear message to corporate Democrats that we’re sick and tired of Donald Trump’s Democrats running the party into the ground.

No surrender

No surrender

I haven’t written much about Illinois state politics in recent months, largely because there’s not much going on due to the ongoing state government shutdown.

However, the website of The New York Times has published this report on how a handful of wealthy individuals, some of which aren’t Illinois residents, are holding the state of Illinois hostage by way of big-money politics:

In the months since, Mr. (Kenneth C.) Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

[…]

Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.

In short, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on his gubernatorial campaign last year, also spent millions upon millions of dollars of money from a handful of wealthy individuals, and now Rauner is holding Illinois hostage by demanding a Scott Walker-style far-right economic agenda that would hurt Illinois’s economy in return for a functional state government.

To the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly and the people of Illinois, I have two words for ya’ll: No surrender! Illinois cannot afford busting unions, driving down wages, making it harder for working Illinoisans who are injured on the job to get workers’ compensation benefits, cuts to pension benefits, and every other item of right-wing economic policy that would hurt Illinois’s economy by taking away disposable income from Illinois consumers. Illinois cannot afford surrendering to Bruce Rauner and his big-money cronies from the finance industry.

ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.

Right-wing Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider claims that Russ Feingold is worse than a child molester

Christian Schneider, a right-wing columnist for the right-wing Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, compared Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who is running for his former U.S. Senate seat, to child molester and Ashley Madison member Josh Duggar in this column:

Of course, Feingold’s (Badger Pledge) isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Typically, all of a campaign’s money is spent a month before election day — all of a candidate’s ad buys are complete and campaign literature has been printed. (Further, with YouTube and social media, traditional television ad buys are becoming less and less relevant.) What if a third-party group runs an ad with two weeks to go, while the actual campaigns are broke? Who is coming after them — the Russ Feingold Collection Agency?

Instead, Feingold is simply following the old campaign trick of a candidate trying to show strength in an area that represents his greatest weakness. In the past few months, reports have shown that Feingold has been living a double life that would make Josh Duggar cringe; despite decades of railing against money in politics, Feingold himself commanded a political action committee that has raked in millions from special interest groups.

(emphasis by Monona Grove (WI) school board member and Cognitive Dissidence blogger Jeff Simpson)

While money in politics is a serious problem, and politicians in both major parties are guilty as sin of being part of the problem and/or being hypocritical about it, comparing Russ Feingold to a child molester like Josh Duggar is absolutely absurd. What Schneider did was basically claim that using a political front group as a benchwarmer for political operatives is somehow worse than child molestation. While big-money politics is a very serious problem in this country, child molestation is absolutely repulsive.

Schneider’s bizarre comparison between Feingold and Duggar reminds me a lot of disgraced former Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) spokesman Graeme Zielinski comparing Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s legal defense in the first John Doe investigation to the legal defense of serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

It’s bad enough that Russ Feingold has had to deal with borderline anti-Semitic remarks by DPW Chairwoman Martha Laning (trust me, Laning wouldn’t have complained about Feingold’s last name if his name were a more common last name like Smith or White), who has been trying to sabotage Feingold’s campaign. It’s even worse that the right-wing corporate media in Wisconsin is making unbelievably offensive remarks comparing Feingold to a child molester.

I urge people to contact Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial page editor David Haynes at dhaynes@journalsentinel.com and call for the Journal-Sentinel to fire Christian Schneider over his offensive remarks about Russ Feingold.

Four state-level Democratic Party organizations caught coordinating with the Hillary Clinton campaign

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Just because a political party coordinates with a political candidate does not necessarily mean that said coordination is illegal. I am unsure of whether or not it is legally permissible for a political party to set up a political fund in coordination with a political candidate.


State-level Democratic Party organizations in Mississippi, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin are officially coordinating, in a manner which I’m not sure of the legality of, with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Specifically, they’re creating so-called “victory funds”, which are designed to funnel money to both the state party organizations and the Clinton campaign, in those four states:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has received commitments from four Democratic state parties, including in the crucial proving ground of New Hampshire, to enter joint fund-raising agreements with the campaign just as the nomination battle is beginning.

The four are a small fraction of the dozens of state parties that the Hillary for America campaign has asked to join such agreements. Many are still considering the request; some officials said they are working through how the arrangement would be put into effect while the nominating fight is underway.

Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin have also signed agreements with the Clinton team, according to two people briefed on the issue who were not authorized to speak publicly. Virginia, a critical general election battleground, is home to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Mrs. Clinton’s and a former Democratic National Committee chairman.

If you want to know what the biggest problem affecting our nation’s political and electoral system is, look no further than those damn Clintons and the failed, out-of-touch, out-of-ideas Democratic establishment. Big money corrupting the political system in this country is a very serious problem, and the Clintons and the Democratic leadership at all levels is just as much of a personification of the problem as the right-wing Koch Brothers are.

In regards to Wisconsin, this is an apparent violation of Article VIII of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Constitution, which requires “unusual circumstances” and a two-thirds supermajority vote of the party’s administrative committee for the party to endorse and support a candidate in a contested primary, neither of which have, to my knowledge, taken place in regards to the 2016 presidential election. I’m not sure if the constitutions and/or by-laws of Democratic Party organizations in the other three states (Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Virginia) have any clause requiring party neutrality in nomination contests in most or all circumstances and/or providing a formal process for an endorsement by the state party.

Martha Laning, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman, reportedly told a Bernie Sanders supporter that “we (referring to the state party) have to be like Switzerland (i.e., neutral) until after the nomination” at a Democratic picnic somewhere in Wisconsin. At the same time Laning is telling Sanders supporters in Wisconsin that the state party is supposed to be neutral in regards to the presidential nomination contest, the party that she leads is coordinating with the Clinton campaign to give money to the Clinton campaign. That is some blatant hypocrisy right there.

Does Scott Walker want to put elected officials in charge of administrating elections in Wisconsin?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The blog post includes a word, Nixcarthyism, that has, to my knowledge, never been used before. Nixcarthyism is defined as a corrupt, vindictive style of politics that combines the style of politics of Richard Nixon and the style of politics of Joe McCarthy.


Scott Walker’s Nixcarthyism knows no boundaries. As Governor of Wisconsin, he’s used a recall petition against him as a political enemies list, enacted disastrous political policies designed to make the lives of Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin a living hell, and has gotten away with blatant political corruption.

Now, he’s pushing to eliminate the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), an officially non-partisan agency, compromised of a board of six retired judges, that would be a great model for non-partisan state election administration panels across the country, and replace it with a yet-to-be-determined state government board or agency. The GAB is responsible for state-level regulation of elections, campaign finance, and lobbying in Wisconsin, as well as handling ethics complaints filed against state elected officials in Wisconsin. This is Walker’s way of retaliating against the GAB for authorizing the unsuccessful 2012 recall attempt against him and for referring the John Doe II investigation, which was recently struck down by the majority-female, far-right Wisconsin Supreme Court, to a special prosecutor and five district attorneys.

However, I do have one hint as to to what kind of entity Walker wants to replace the GAB with: Walker has stated that he wants “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin” to replace the GAB.

I’m guessing that “something completely new” is Walker-speak for something significantly different than the GAB or the former Wisconsin State Elections Board that was replaced by the GAB. By “truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin”, I’m guessing that’s Walker-speak for putting elected officials in charge of administrating elections, handing ethics complaints, regulating campaign finance, and regulating lobbying in Wisconsin, while, at the same time, allowing said elected officials to retain their elected offices and serve on whatever entity replaces the GAB simultaneously. I do not know of any state that has incumbent elected officials serving on or in a state office, board, or agency responsible for administering elections, handling ethics complaints, regulating campaign finance, and/or regulating lobbying.

If Walker wants to put elected officials in charge of state-level election administration in Wisconsin, that would be comparable to asking Cookie Monster to guard cookies. The vast majority of, if not all, elected officials in Wisconsin benefit in some way from campaign donations and/or outside spending on their behalf. Because of that, a state elections board compromised of elected officials in some form or another would be absolutely rife with conflicts of interest and would likely be very supportive of big money special interests having tons of influence over the political system.

About the only change I’d make to the Wisconsin GAB is to put the responsibility for appointing GAB board members in the hands of the Wisconsin Secretary of State (currently, the Wisconsin Governor makes the appointments to the GAB).

Bernie Sanders draws massive crowd to Madison, Wisconsin rally, lays out progressive vision for America

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America’s future in front of a roaring capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (also called the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison, Wisconsin last night.

Here’s a couple of photos of the crowd at the event:

Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie's appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Crowd filing into Bernie Sanders rally in Madison, Wisconsin prior to Bernie’s appearance (photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Defender Twitter account)
Bernie Sanders Madison WI Rally Crowd Doug Cvetkovich
Massive crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin during Bernie Sanders speech. Sanders is standing at the podium on the stage at the bottom left of the picture. (photo courtesy of Doug Cvetkovich)

I’m going to share a video of Bernie’s speech from the YouTube channel Bernie2016.tv (which is not directly affiliated with the Sanders campaign), but I want to make two notes before I do so: First, I’ve set the video to start playing at around the 42:20 mark, which is about 20 seconds or so before Nichols takes the stage to introduce Sanders. Second, several technical glitches occur during the video, most notably the first part of Nichols’s introduction not having any audio at all and an audio echoing issue occurring in at least one segment of Sanders’s speech.

Here’s the video of Bernie’s speech:

Bernie did a masterful job outlining a progressive vision for America. In his speech, Bernie called for reducing income inequality in America, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, expanding workers’ rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, getting big money out of politics, ensuring that women are paid the same as men for the same amount and type of work, reforming the criminal justice system, opposing free trade deals, providing high-quality education to Americans without burdening them with student debt, raising the minimum wage, and enacting many other progressive policies. Bernie energized a large crowd in Wisconsin’s second-largest city, and I think he can win the general election for president.

According to arena officials and Sanders campaign staffers, the attendance was 9,600, although I’ve seen reports on social media that so many people tried to show up at the 10,231-seat arena, some people had to be turned away from the event because the venue couldn’t handle any more people than the stated capacity. Sanders was introduced at the event by John Nichols, a progressive political author and columnist for The Nation magazine. Nichols mentioned during his introduction of Sanders that Ed Garvey, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin and the founder of the annual Fighting Bob Fest progressive gathering, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), and Wisconsin State Representatives Terese Berceau and Melissa Sargent (both D-Madison), were present at the event. Of those four, Sargent livetweeted Sanders’s speech, in which Sanders talked about issues like money in politics, climate change, education, higher education, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, income inequality, poverty, criminal justice reform, the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, breaking up “too big to fail” banks, and international trade. Here’s every one of Sargent’s tweets about Sanders’s speech in Madison:

Note that there is an apparent typo in one of Sargent’s tweets (the one she sent at 8:05 P.M. about Sanders talking about how climate change affects our future; Sargent likely meant to type “We must leave this planet in a condition that is habitable for our children”); other than that, Sargent did an absolutely fantastic job paraphrasing Sanders’s speech and livetweeting the key points that Sanders made. Please also note that Sargent has, to my knowledge, not formally endorsed a presidential candidate.

It is perfectly fitting that Bernie Sanders laid out his progressive vision for America in the hometown of Wisconsin progressive legend Fighting Bob La Follette.

Corporate Democrat Chris Abele would represent Scott Walker’s third term in office if he were to run for and be elected Wisconsin Governor

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Executive Chris Abele has been making public appearances outside of Milwaukee County in recent days. Recently, and to my knowledge, he’s appeared on a talk radio program in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s also appeared at a Democratic Party picnic in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Both of these locations are 60-90 miles or so away from Milwaukee, if I’m not mistaken. This seems to be unusual for Abele to make appearances at events outside of Milwaukee County.

While there was some speculation that Abele may run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin next year, Russ Feingold is already running in that race, and, for someone who is not known as a big-time fundraiser, Feingold has raised a ton of money for his campaign, so I’m guessing that Abele thinks that he doesn’t have a realistic path to victory in that race, although I could be wrong about that. I’m speculating that Abele may want to run for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and, outside of a few social issues, Abele would pretty much represent Scott Walker’s third term in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion if he were to run for and be elected governor.

Before being elected the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, Abele once threw fireworks at a neighbor’s house. Since being elected Milwaukee County Executive, Abele has:

  • Enacted Scott Walker-style austerity measures in Milwaukee County, which have hurt Milwaukee County’s economy
  • Has openly antagonized Democrats, progressives, and labor union members
  • Tried to get the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to prohibit counties from passing living wage ordinances designed to boost local economies
  • Actively supported corporate welfare for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks
  • Actively opposed efforts to allow Milwaukee County voters to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether or not they want to get rid of Walker/Abele-style big-money politics
  • Allied himself with Deanna Alexander, a far-right Milwaukee County Supervisor who has made overtly racist and sexist remarks about Democrats, women, and ethnic minorities
  • Spent large amounts of Milwaukee County taxpayers’ money on items like a large SUV for himself
  • Has repeatedly had his vetoes of progressive ideals overridden by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, a Milwaukee County employee and progressive patriot, has documented Chris Abele’s horrible track record as Milwaukee County Executive at his blog over the past few years.

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chris Abele’s right-wing record as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. When I say that Abele wouldn’t be significantly better as Wisconsin Governor than Scott Walker, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. Hopefully, one or more actual progressives, or at least someone who believes that the government should serve the people and not big-money special interests, runs in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin Governor a little more than three years from now.