Critical of Marklein
State Sen. Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green), who represents south central Wisconsin’s 17th Senate District, just decided that the Koch Brothers and other out-of-state billionaires do not have enough influence on Wisconsin government. With his vote for what Wisconsin Republican legislators call campaign finance reform, Marklein voted to allow the Koch brothers and other billionaires to vastly increase the amount of money they can contribute to political candidates, and to change Wisconsin laws so that nobody will know where the money is coming from.
To make matters worse, Marklein deceived us about it. In his newsletter he blamed it on a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, but that is simply not true. The Court decision did not suggest that the state had to increase the amount of campaign contributions and did not suggest that contributions should be hidden from the public. In fact the court has supported disclosure. Marklein is simply deceiving us on both counts.
This is just another example of how Marklein consistently cons us. Earlier this year, he suggested at a meeting in Mauston that legislation pending at that time was not intended to boot Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson from her position as chief, when everyone else in the room — perhaps everyone in the state — knew that was exactly what was happening. Marklein even suggested that the majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court might elect a liberal judge. It is an indication for Marklein’s arrogance — and his low opinion of our intelligence — that he thinks we will believe such ridiculous statements. Now he has done it again.
Howard Marklein does not approach his job of senator as a statesman. His approach more closely resembles that of a con artist: give the Koch brothers and other billionaires what they want, then cover it up with dishonesty and bullpucky.
Critical of Novak
Common sense, the Wisconsin Constitution, and laws tell us that our elected officials should not vote on issues from which they could receive a financial benefit. Unfortunately, the majority party in the State Assembly, including my representative, Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville), forgot this logical and legal prohibition when they voted to essentially double the limits on campaign contributions and make it easier to coordinate with outside funding groups.
Their rationale, of course, is that the benefit will be to their campaign funds, not to them. That rationale doesn’t pass the smell test. If campaign funds do not benefit politicians, why do office holders spend so much time and effort ingratiating themselves to donors and pretending that they would never coordinate with outside groups?
Assembly Bill 387 is a major step away from Wisconsin’s proud tradition of transparent, corruption-free government. Todd Novak and all of his colleagues who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves. And, voters should remember this action in 2016.
Wittwer ran for the 17th Senate District Democratic primary in 2014.
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