Residual funds may be used for ANY purpose that is not prohibited by law, not just for a political purpose, upon termination of a personal campaign committee (p. 29).
Among the long list of serious and potentially sinister consequences contained in Wisconsin election and campaign finance bills AB 387, ab 388 and AB 389, GAB Judge Jonathan Becker warned that new wording of the law will allow some potentially unconstitutional over-reach and some other omissions that imperil Election and campaign integrity and directly contradict the rhetoric Robin Vos is using to promote the bills.
Senator Miller commented that these consequences are sinister.
His detailed testimony is included in video link below and he supplied a memo of his notes legally analyzing the suite of Bills that Vos and other GOP have submitted.
The Memo may be downloaded here:
Becker appeals to the committee under the mistaken assumption that they really care about making the system actually work, while it is apparent to any analyst who thoroughly understands the bills and the testimony given at the 12 hour hearing that these bills will do exactly what they are designed to do.
The bills set forth a complex system of loopholes and administrative dead ends that are designed to Fail.
The Bills set forth a way for pacs and committees to make otherwise required reporting become entirely voluntary.
Is it possible these new laws are also designed to give Scott Walker the means to personally keep the $20 Million he has in his presidential pac?
Most of Jonathan Beckers memo is also included below:
Comments by Jonathan Becker on Campaign Finance Bill
Registration and reporting by a political action committee and an independent
expenditure committee will be voluntary. To require registration and reporting, a
committee must have express advocacy as its major purpose (p.19). Major purpose must
be specified in organizational documents or indicated to the Board (p. 19). No objective
(expenditure) test, such as greater than 50% of expenditures. LRB note: “Is it too easy to get
around this definition? What if the entity indicates one thing, but its actions indicate another?”
Second committees permitted for different state or local office permitted for candidates
(p.32). The bill attempts to place a limit on how much can be transferred from one
committee to another by requiring the committee to account for the amount of each
contribution transferred. (p. 95). But this will be ineffective because individual
contributions will not be transferred over – only lump sum amounts. There is no tracking
of individual contributions – once received, contributions go into an undifferentiated pot.
No requirement that campaign funds must be used for a political purpose, but there is a
restriction on disbursements for an individual’s strictly personal use (p. 101). Does this
mean it can be partly for personal use? Perhaps better to use Ethics Code wording
prohibiting use of office for private benefit of official, immediate family, or organization
with which associated.
Upon termination of a personal campaign committee, residual funds may be used for any
purpose that is not prohibited by law, not just for a political purpose. (p. 29). The
restriction on disbursements for an individual’s strictly personal use may not apply
because use of residual funds may or may not be an “expenditure” and, thus, not a
“disbursement.” (p. 17). (“Expenditure” is not defined).
Independent expenditure regulation, requiring registration and regular reporting, may go
too far. It looks like the kind of regulation that Barland II found unconstitutionally
burdensome. Check with legislative Council or A-G.
Prohibits solicitation of contributions from any state officer or employee ever, unless on
unpaid leave of absence. (p. 100).
Amends Ethics Code to permit elected officials to use the status and prestige of office to
solicit money, customers, or clients for their private businesses or for organizations on
whose board they or their spouses are directors or for which they are officers or
authorized agents. (p.38).
Independent expenditure committees are not assigned a filing officer. (p.21-22).
Prohibition on use of CFIS data for a commercial purpose is gone.
Non-resident committees appear to have to report everything they do, not just Wisconsin
Restriction on media raising rates for political advertisements is gone.
Lack of provisions creating sponsoring organizations means many organizations that
have solicited money or paid administrative expenses for PACs or conduits may not be
able to do so anymore – those expenses could be prohibited corporate contributions.
Requirements that committees file a continuing report only if supporting a candidate on
the ballot will mean that administrators will not know who is required to file and many
committees will not be required to file until fall 2016.
Additional comments from issues raised by staff
The bill would require disclaimer language on any ad, even those by persons not subject
Campaign periods raise issues. (p. 88):
A fall candidate’s campaign period ends on 1/1. This date should be 12/31. Otherwise
one day of the campaign period is included on the April 15 continuing report, instead of
the entire campaign period being covered by the January 15 report.
A spring candidate’s campaign period ends on 7/1. This date should be 6/30. Otherwise
one day of the campaign period is included on the October 15th report, instead of the
entire campaign period being covered by the July 15 report.
Winning fall candidates will have their campaign period end 12/31. Since the campaign
period for officeholders is different than that of candidates, there will be a gap. New
officeholders’ campaign period begins when they are sworn in, sometime during the first
week of January. If they are not sworn in until January 5th, there are 4 days not covered
by any campaign period. Can the new legislator accept additional contributions during
this 4 day gap?
Winning spring candidates will assume office 8/1. Since the campaign period for the
candidates ended 6/30, and the new campaign period for the officeholders don’t begin
until they begin their term on 8/1, they have an entire month to take additional
There used to be a $20 itemization threshold. Without that threshold, each contribution
of even $0.01 needs to be itemized and include the person’s name and address. This may
prevent many county parties and candidate committees from “passing the hat” and
collecting small contribution of $20 or less. (The $10 threshold for anonymous
contributions may help, but there is still a gap between $10 and $20.)