MADISON, Wis. — With the removal of anti-corruption protections for state workers and in state law on the legislative fast track in the State Assembly, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented the fall forecast in the Republican-controlled state legislature is “mostly corrupt.” In the Assembly today a public hearing is being held on a bill to repeal state laws protecting state government from rampant cronyism and corruption while another committee votes on measures to allow corporate money to flow directly into Wisconsin politics, cripple investigations of ethical and election misdeeds by state officials and even make it harder for voters, especially seniors citizens and students, to register.
“Speaker Vos and his gang have a comprehensive plan to make Wisconsin open for more cronyism and more corruption,” commented Ross. “And if that’s not bad enough, they’re also going to fix it so it’s harder for investigators or voters to hold them accountable.”
A bill before the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations would allow Republicans to pack state government with political cronies by replacing objective measures for qualifying for appointments with resumes and centralize hiring in the state Department of Administration, headed by a political appointee. In addition, political appointees in agencies would be able to lay off employees without regard to seniority and dole out bonuses at their discretion, promoting favoritism for cronies.
Among the proposals scheduled for votes in the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections are the elimination of Wisconsin’s more than century old prohibition on direct corporate contributions in elections and the “Wisconsin Idea” statement of the purpose that campaign finance laws help provide for an informed electorate and protect the integrity of elections.
In addition, legislators would give themselves the ability to deny funding of investigations of alleged ethics and election law violations on their part and create a new impediment to registering voters by eliminating special registration deputies prior to election day. Special registration deputies are required by law to be trained by municipal clerks and must follow strict guidelines for ensuring voters meet the residency requirements.
He concluded, “More hand-picked cronies in state government who either have to toe the line or else. Corporate money flowing directly into their party’s coffers. More barriers to registering to vote and less ability for regulators to investigate possible violations of what ethics and elections laws are left. The forecast for the Republican controlled Assembly this Fall is ‘mostly corrupt’.”