Governor Walker to get unlimited donations due to loophole - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Governor Walker to get unlimited donations due to loophole

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MADISON (WKOW) -

Under Wisconsin's campaign finance laws, individuals are limited in how much money they can donate to any one political candidate.

In a gubernatorial race the limit is $10,000.

But, once a recall effort officially begins, the sky is the limit on how much an individual can donate, as long as they're donating to the incumbent.

When petition drives for recalls started against nine state senators last spring, incumbents took advantage of a little known campaign finance law to rake in big bucks.

"All of a sudden you started seeing these contributions of $20,000 and $30,000 flowing into state senators and of course the normal campaign contribution limit for state senate race is $1,000," said Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The law was passed decades ago and effectively states that during the period when petitioners are collecting signatures to force a recall there are no limits on what individuals can donate to the public official being recalled.

That means Governor Scott Walker could raise millions of dollars in unlimited contributions, but his eventual opponent won't have that same opportunity.

"The argument at the time was, well, you don't necessarily know that a recall election is coming, so perhaps you should be given a greater ability to raise money," said McCabe.

Democratic Rep. Kelda Helen Roys of Madison believes it creates an uneven playing field.

That's why she introduced Assembly Bill 296 last week, which would repeal the law.
  
"Certainly, each side is gonna try to use whatever they can to help their side win, but this is totally different than what we've seen in the past," said Rep. Roys.

Rep. Roys admitted its unlikely Republicans will let the bill see the light of day.

27 News contacted the office of Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald for a comment on AB 296, but never received a response.

Mike McCabe believes if the Republicans truly care about democracy, they will pass AB 296.

"There's already a concern that's off the charts in respects to money in politics and how is it gonna leave us with anything but public officials who are even more beholden to special interest influence, if they can go out and engage in unlimited fundraising?", said McCabe.

27 News also attempted to reach a campaign advisor for Governor Walker for comment on this story, but they were unavailable.

The petition drive against the Governor is expected to start on November 15.

 

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