Friday, January 17, 2014

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Indispensable To State Journalism

You may be unaware of the peerless campaign finance data bases routinely collected and made available as a public service by the Madison-based non-profit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, (WDC).

WDC data this week was at the core of big stories about two legislators and the governmental favors they had done for donors in Oconomowoc and Hudson.

So -- two things: 

I'm happy to have made a donation tonight to the Campaign, and hope you will, too.

And it's more than fair to let the Campaign have the last word this week about the news stories its work helped document. From its E-newsletter today:
Corruption in fashion in Wisconsin
Sometimes political corruption is in your face and hard to miss, and sometimes it is more understated and barely is noticed. Wisconsin saw both varieties in recent days. 
A wealthy divorced developer being allowed to play a key role in writing legislation aimed at reducing his child support payments by a state lawmaker who received large campaign contributions from the businessman has caused a huge stir. 
In an editorial commentary aired this week, WISC-TV called this sordid affair "the worst combination of stomach-turning and heartbreaking abuse we've seen in a legislature that is good at both." 
Less attention was paid to a state senator's uncustomary intervention on behalf of a Hudson company that is claiming the state owes it more than $200,000 in a dispute over a contract for the installation of a call system at a state veterans home. 
The state Department of Administration rejected the company's claim, and the state claims board sided with DOA, leaving the company to decide whether to pursue the matter further in court. 
But then River Falls Republican Sheila Harsdorf took the unusual step of introducing legislation to override DOA and the claims board and pay the business the full amount it is seeking. The full Senate quietly passed her bill. 
The Democracy Campaign's online donor database came in handy again, revealing that the company's owner has made sizeable donations to Harsdorf in recent years. 
Newspapers in Manitowoc and Sheboygan republished our latest blog post about how corruption shows itself flagrantly one moment and subtly the next.

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