After a statewide chorus for Governor Doyle to act on campaign finance and ethics reforms, he announced a package yesterday. What is his just reward for taking action? So far politicing, second guessing, backbiting and naysaying. With this kind of reception from some so called reformers in our state, perhaps I can see why a governor has not introduced such changes in the past.
This package does not go as far as I would like to see either, but our goal should be to at least move forward. The Governor must know that if he went too far it would stand no chance of passing a Republican controlled legislature. Here are the major reforms that the Governor is suggesting:
- Offer 100% public financing for Supreme Court candidates.
- Ban all fundraising by incumbents and challengers during the budget period.
- A one year ban on lobbying for former legislators, staff, governors, and appointees.
- Merge the Wisconsin Ethics and Elections boards.
- Ban the use of campaign and tax dollars to pay for legal defense fees.
Although he is referred to as a reformer, Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) is already saying that one part (the last item) of the reform package stands little chance of passing. Based on his press release and comments thusfar it looks like this “great reformer” is willing to toss the entire proposal. Let me say one thing to Sen. Ellis about trashing this proposal over the small details. It may not be perfect but it is a "quantum leap from the cesspool we're currently living in." Does that line of reasoning sound familiar? It should because that was your reasoning when you were trying to push your campaign finance reform legislation.
In Ellis’ early statements, rather than trying to support any advancement he bitterly suggests some of the following:
- As previously mentioned, the ban on campaign and tax dollars for legal defense will not pass.
- That Doyle is doing this for political reasons.
- Doyle stole everyone else’s ideas.
Tell me Senator Ellis, if I solve these problems for you will you try to get this package passed? First I will suggest that they grandfather in your friends that still await trial. Even though I have a problem with this, let them use public dollars since the other side did. I will try to convince you to stop the political sniping and second guessing and just concentrate on advancing the cause. If credit is what you want for some of these ideas, I will start referring to the package as the Ellis inspired reform package. Make you feel better? Good.
Now that I have solved your issues with this reform package, I expect effort and support from you. If you don’t keep your end of the deal then I must doubt your real motives. I will be forced to wonder a few things (some out loud): Do you want to see Doyle lose the upcoming election so bad that you would sacrifice efforts on your “signature issue”? Have you been preemptively taken to the woodshed by your party’s leaders? Perhaps it is something very simple such as cold feet.