Tag: recall election

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).

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As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

Hillary Clinton’s “Scott Walker” problem

Hillary Clinton has a “Scott Walker” problem on her hands.

Specifically, CNN is reporting that Hillary Clinton apparently intends to violate federal laws by raising money for a SuperPAC that is supporting her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination:

Hillary Clinton’s decision to personally raise money for a super PAC supporting her campaign is agitating her progressive critics, who see the move as further proof that the Democratic presidential frontrunner doesn’t share some of their values.

[…]

Within days of announcing her White House bid, Clinton had called out wealthy investors for paying too little in taxes and pledged to get big money out of politics. At the time, it was a welcome message for liberal Democrats who are uncomfortable with Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street and find the prominent role of super PACs in elections utterly distasteful.

But the recent revelation that Clinton will personally fundraise for a super PAC supporting her campaign — a decision to play by the rules of a system she has condemned as “dysfunctional” — has invited fresh eye-rolling. It has also exposed a core tension for Democrats, who have increasingly embraced super PACs at the same time that they decry the explosion of soft money in national politics.

The name of the SuperPAC in question is Priorities USA Action, a SuperPAC that was originally formed to support Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, but is now one of many pro-Hillary SuperPACs for the 2016 presidential election. No criminal charges have been filed against Hillary at this time, and there doesn’t appear to be any kind of criminal investigation into this matter at this time, apparently because the Priorities USA Action fundraisers featuring Hillary haven’t been held yet.

Hillary Clinton is a total hypocrite when it comes to money in politics. While she’s publicly complained about the ridiculous influence of big-money politics, she’s embracing that same ridiculous influence of big-money politics by intending to apparently violate the law to fundraise for one of the SuperPACs that are supporting her campaign. Hillary does not appear to be playing by the rules at all. In fact, she’s made it clear that she wants to apparently violate federal laws that prohibit illegal coordination between SuperPACs and candidates for federal elected office.

When I said that Hillary has a “Scott Walker” problem on her hands, what I mean by that is that Hillary intends to do is no different that what Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, himself an unofficial candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, did when he knew that he and several of his allies were going to face recall elections. Walker illegally solicited $700,000 from Gogebic Taconite, a mining company that has never actually operated a mine, but bought weaker environmental laws in Wisconsin, to the Wisconsin chapter of the right-wing political front group Club for Growth. Here’s how The Progressive magazine’s Rebecca Kemble reported that story when documents from the ongoing, but stalled, John Doe II investigation into Walker and his allies showing that Walker illegally solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit a right-wing group were released last year:

Even though all limits on the size of direct campaign donations are removed for candidates facing recall elections in Wisconsin, the Walker campaign still found it necessary to hide the source of the millions it solicited during 2011-2012 to keep him and his legislative allies in power.

According to emails between Walker campaign staff, the Wisconsin Club for Growth was the dark money clearinghouse that apparently coordinated “issue advocacy and “correct messaging” with the Walker campaign. Much of the money that came in the WiCFG door went back out to other political operatives like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Citizens for a Strong America and the Jobs First Coalition to back Walker and Republican state senators facing recall or special elections in 2012.

GTac bought weaker environmental laws in Wisconsin by supporting anti-environment politicians so they could build an iron ore mine in Northern Wisconsin in violation of Native American treaties, but GTac recently decided to scrap the project entirely.

Hillary Clinton is just as unethical as the odious Scott Walker is, and that’s why progressive-minded Democrats can’t afford Hillary being our party’s presidential nominee.

The Progressive Response to the State of the State of Illinois Address

Earlier today, Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of our state that we instinctively know as Illinois, outlined his plan to drive down wages, infringe on the rights of Illinois workers, and destroy an already weak Illinois economy.

Prior to giving his State of the State address, Rauner went around the state using PowerPoint slides to publicly bash our state’s public employees, whine about public employees being, in his view, overpaid, spread lies about worker’s rights and public employee pay, and blame public employees for our state’s fiscal problems. Additionally, it was reported yesterday that Rauner strongly hinted that he wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights for our state’s public employees. Given that Rauner has given his top administration officials pay raises and appointed a $100,000/year chief of staff to his wife despite the fact that his wife has no official duties whatsoever, for Rauner to give his cronies pay raises while wanting to drive down public employee salaries is blatantly hypocritical.

In his State of the State address, Rauner called for gutting our state’s workers’ compensation system, lowering property taxes while our state and local governments have billions of dollars in unpaid bills, allowing local governments and/or voters to bust unions at the local level, prohibiting project labor agreements, eliminating prevailing wage laws, and privatizing public education to benefit his political cronies. Rauner did have a few good ideas that he talked about in his address to the people of Illinois, such as banning trial lawyer donations to judicial campaigns, merging the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer, and increasing funding for early childhood education.

While there is no disputing the fact that our state is in a fiscal mess for a large number of reasons, the primary reason why our state is in such a fiscal mess is because the wealthiest Illinoisans, such as Rauner himself, don’t pay enough state income taxes thanks to an ridiculous provision in the Illinois Constitution that prohibits the General Assembly from passing legislation to tax the incomes of wealthier Illinoisans at a higher rate than the incomes of poorer Illinoisans. The flat tax requirement in the Illinois Constitution prohibits our state from raising the revenues that would be needed to pay off our state’s unpaid bills and put our state on solid financial footing. I would strongly support a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution to allow the General Assembly to levy a progressive state income tax in order to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Illinoisans, cut income taxes for the poorest Illinoisans, and put our state’s finances back on track. Additionally, I would strongly support eliminating all tax breaks for businesses, such as the ridiculous tax break that Sears and CME Group received a few years ago, as this would also bring in more revenue to the state that can be used to pay off unpaid bills.

Regarding public employee pensions, another reason why our state is in a fiscal mess, I would strongly support a pension reform proposal that would phase out the current public employee pension systems in our state, but still allow public employees who have paid into the current pension systems to still receive the benefits they’ve earned once they retire, and require all new state and local elected officials, appointed officials, and hired public employees who receive a full-time salary but had not previously paid anything into the current public employee pension systems in our state to pay into a newly-created public employee pension system that is designed to be fully-funded and provide our state’s future elected officials, political appointees, and public employees with a steady retirement income once they retire. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose any pension reform proposal that cuts benefits for those who have currently paid into the pension systems, creates a 401(k) system for public employees, and/or turns an existing pension system into a 401(k) system.

Regarding cutting spending, I would support an audit of the entire state government and every single county, township, city, town, village, and other type of local government entity in our state in order to find actual wasteful spending and propose common-sense solutions to cut actual wasteful spending and help save the state money in both the short term and the long term. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose cuts to public education, social services, and other government services that reduce the quality of service by our state and local government agencies.

Regarding strengthening our state’s economy, I strongly support raising the state minimum wage here in Illinois to $15/hour and indexing automatic, annual minimum wage increases to productivity. Additionally, I strongly support creating a North Dakota-style economic development bank here in Illinois to issue and/our guarantee loans to factories, farms, small businesses, and other types of businesses that have to be repaid in full with interest. These two proposals would lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty, establish a minimum wage that values work, and help entrepreneurs start up new businesses and create jobs without pocketing government benefits to simply pad profits. Busting unions and driving down wages is something I strongly oppose because those policies would do absolutely nothing to strengthen our state’s economy or empower Illinoisans.

Regarding campaign finance, ethics, and government reform, while a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped Rauner and his cronies buy the last gubernatorial election would be required to allow Illinois to enact meaningful campaign finance reform, I strongly support eliminating the conflicts of interest that are currently allowed by our state’s campaign finance system, such as a couple of conflicts of interest that Rauner mentioned, prohibiting unions from donating to candidates for public office that they’d have to collectively bargain with if said candidates are elected and prohibiting trial lawyers from donating to judicial candidates, and one that Rauner did not mention because he’s effectively opposed to it, prohibiting business owners and managers from donating to candidates for public office that could use the public office in question to directly benefit said business owners and managers if elected. Additionally, I would support setting the maximum campaign contribution for a statewide office here in Illinois at $250 and enacting even lower limits for state legislative and local offices. Additionally, I strongly support implementing a pair of public campaign finance systems, one for judicial elections and one for other non-federal elections. The judicial public campaign finance system would prohibit judicial candidates from receiving campaign contributions from other people and/or funding their own campaigns, require that all judicial candidates receive a set amount of campaign funds from the state, and require that judicial candidates receive the same amount of campaign funds from the state that their opponents receive. The public campaign finance system for other offices would allow candidates for those offices to receive $4 of state funding for every $1 they receive in contributions and/or self-fund their campaigns with. Additionally, I would support enacting what I like to call the Bruce Rauner Rule, which would outright prohibit candidates for statewide office here in Illinois from donating or loaning more than $100,000 of their own wealth to their campaign, and set even lower self-funding limits for other offices. On term limits, I would support limiting the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to one elected term, limiting the other state executive offices to two elected terms, limiting state senators to five elected terms, and limiting state representatives to eight elected terms, and anything stricter than that would receive my opposition. Some other government reform ideas I support include allowing Illinois voters to recall all non-federal elected officials, converting the Illinois General Assembly into an unicameral legislature with at least 177 members via a state constitutional amendment, and amending the Illinois Constitution to establish a truly non-partisan redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts.

Regarding reforming the criminal justice system, I strongly support legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational marijuana, which would reduce the incarceration rate in our state and provide our state with much-needed tax revenue. Additionally, I’m open to various ideas to reform the criminal justice system in order to make our prison system more about rehabilitating convicted criminals instead of simply punishing them and make our criminal justice system more fair. For example, one idea that I strongly support would be requiring independent investigations of deaths that occur in the hands of state and local police here in Illinois.

Regarding education, I strongly oppose implementing school voucher programs here in Illinois, expanding charter schools, or any other school privatization scheme. I strongly support repealing Common Core State Standards and replacing them well-rounded, developmentally appropriate K-12 academic standards developed by the state and are held accountable by measures other than assessments and standardized tests. Additionally, I strongly support getting rid of the emphasis on career preparation in K-12 education, since I believe that career preparation should be the responsibility of higher education institutions, not the K-12 system. Also, I strongly support increasing funding for public schools in our state and making our state’s K-12 school funding system fairer to poorer school districts.

Illinoisans are worth more than speeches, political buzzwords, and PowerPoint presentations about driving down wages, busting unions, and making our state’s economy even weaker than it currently is, and Illinoisans are certainly worth more than Bruce Rauner’s far-right policies to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy our state’s economy. It’s time for Illinoisans to push for progressive policies to protect workers’ rights, strengthen our state’s economy, put more money into the pockets of poor and working-class Illinoisans, provide a world-class education system for our state’s K-12 and college students, and provide for a more perfect Illinois.

Legendary progressive activist Lori Compas considering running for Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairperson

Looks like the race for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin could get very interesting.

You may remember Lori Compas, a professional photographer from Fort Atkinson in Jefferson County who became a legendary figure in Wisconsin politics by attempting to recall Republican Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in 2012. Well, I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up, but I have it from a reputable source that Compas, who is currently the executive director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance, a progressive business organization in Wisconsin, is, in fact, considering running for the state chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and that she’ll think about whether or not to run over the weekend. I have not been authorized to disclose my source.

Compas is considering running run on a platform of making the party’s operations more transparent, reducing the DPW chair’s annual salary, articulating a positive, progressive vision for the DPW, and running a true statewide strategy.

If Lori Compas runs for DPW chair and progressives get control of most of the delegate slots at the 2015 DPW Convention, she could very well end up being the favorite for state party chair, as all of the other candidates who are either running or considering running are establishment political figures, whereas Compas would clearly be the progressive candidate for DPW chair. Additionally, if Compas were to run, I will endorse her candidacy. While I’m a lifelong resident of a neighboring state, Lori is a nice, caring, intelligent person who is passionate about Wisconsin progressive values and is one of the most brilliant political activists I’ve ever heard about. I think she’d be a fantastic leader for a state Democratic Party organization that badly needs a different kind of leadership at a time where Wisconsin could end up deciding control of the White House and the U.S. Senate.