Wisconsin’s top government accountability board, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, has shown a total lack of teeth in its pathetic determination to fine the pro-private and voucher school All Children Matter a measly $500 for violating the law when it spent roughly $24,500 advocating for the defeat of Racine Democrat, John Lehman.
From the OWN release:
After the October 13, 2006 complaint against All Children Matter was filed, All Children Matter scrambled to identify an organization registered in Wisconsin. Campaign finance reports filed in both states showed that the independent expenditures were financed with money from All Children Matter’s Virginia-based PAC. The Virginia PAC had received $90,000 from the Milwaukee-based Alliances for Choices in Education ‘ a corporation prohibited under Wisconsin law from making contributions or sponsoring independent expenditures. The Virginia PAC also transferred $35,000 to the Wisconsin organization and the Wisconsin organizations then spent $33,632 attacking three Wisconsin candidates, including Lehman.
Wisconsin law prohibits corporate contributions. After the complaint was filed with the Elections Board about the Lehman mailing and its status as an unregistered independent expenditure, many questions were raised about the possibility of corporate funds being used to finance the Lehman mailings. Instead of comprehensive pursuit of this serious allegation of wrong-doing, the GAB issued a $500 forfeiture from All Children Matter for ‘fail[ing] to register with the Board in a timely manner.’
And this wasn’t even the first time ACM engaged in illegal campaign activity. After illegally funneling $870,000 into Ohio campaigns, it received a $5.2 million dollar fine by the GAB equivalent in Ohio. Ouch. In Wisconsin, ACM essentially got off paying $25,000 to engage in illegal activity rather than the $24,500 they spent initially. A toothless ‘penalty’ for sure.
Tell this to the GAB’s Ethics & Accountability Division Administrator, Jonathan Becker, who thinks the GAB “has been very tough on violators.” Tough? Really? Fining ACM’a multi-million dollar organization whose mission is ‘to work for the election of public officials‘’a measly $500 for violating election laws, is not tough by any stretch.
And let us not forget, this is the tough on ethics body which refused to investigate Michael Gableman’s dozens of fundraising calls from his taxpayer-finance office. Here’s a Journal Sentinel story, ironically titled: “Watchdog Lacks Bite.”
My advice: Show some teeth GAB.