Members of the state Senate are set to take up campaign finance reform legislation Tuesday that supporters say will reduce the influence of special interest groups on elections.
The bill scheduled for a vote would require groups running so-called issue ads near an election to disclose who funds their organization. Jay Heck with Common Cause of Wisconsin says the measure will close a loophole that hurts the political process, by requiring groups that run ads for or against a candidate within 60 days of an election to reveal their financial sources.
Heck says current law allows those groups to spend as much as they want, without needing to report the financial resources of the organization. He says that’s lead to a situation where special interest can launch negative attacks without revealing to voters who is really behind them.
If it were signed into law, Heck suspect many of those ads would be off the airwaves because groups wouldn’t want to be associated with them.
Opponents of the bill argue the measure will restrict their First Amendment rights, and lawsuits would be likely if it passes. Heck says it needs to be done though to stop a plague on elections that hurts candidates and confuses voters.
The US Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on a lawsuit challenging federal restrictions on campaign spending by private groups. There have been calls for Wisconsin lawmakers to delay action until that happens, but Heck says action shouldn’t be dictated by what the court may or may not do.
Governor Doyle has indicated he will sign the bill, if it passes.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)