A state lawmaker wants to roll back one of Wisconsin’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
Under current state law, individuals who donate more than $100 to a candidate for state office currently are required to disclose their employer. State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) says that information has been used to harm businesses with employees who donated to Republicans, pointing to a boycott of several businesses last spring called for by union groups during the controversy over Governor Walker’s collective bargaining changes.
Grothman is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate the employment disclosure for donors, which he argues creates an uncivil climate in the state. The West Bend Republicans says he doesn’t “think we should make it easier for these angry public employee unions to punish businesses.”
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Mike McCabe says the disclosure rule provides an important tool for voters, allowing them to understand the possible financial interests behind why donations were given to a candidate. The watchdog group maintains a database of political contributions.
McCabe says eliminating the employer requirement “would blind voters to the financial interests of campaign donors.” He describes the proposal as a “dagger to the heart of Wisconsin’s campaign finance disclosure laws.”
McCabe says the requirement is also needed to help uncover whether a business is trying to get around contribution limits by using its employees. He says the organization’s database has been used by the FBI twice to uncover cases where that was occurring.
If anything, he says lawmakers should be looking to expand disclosure requirements, rather than taking away the “one clue the public has.”
A state Senate committee is considering the bill.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:09)