Monday, June 30, 2014

Campaigns should not be coordinating with dark money donors

By Jeff Simpson 

Cross Posted from JSonline:

Gov. Scott Walker was correct when he called the rash of news stories about the latest John Doe investigation a "media frenzy." The first John Doe resulted in six criminal prosecutions, and in the midst of the second John Doe, Appeals Court Judge Frank Easterbrook ordered the release of a small batch of documents related to the latest investigation.

The highlight of the document release was part of an email Walker had sent to Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush. In the email, Walker tells Rove that his longtime campaign strategist, R.J. Johnson, would be coordinating between an unlimited number of right-wing groups to help make sure that they were going to be successful in the recall elections. There is not much question whether the Walker campaign coordinated with these different groups. However, there is doubt as to the legality of such coordination.

Do we as a society, in our constitutionally limited democratic republic, just wait until a current lifetime-appointed judge gives us his all-too-predictable ruling on the matter, or do we demand more out of our public servants?

There are two kinds of people who believe that money in politics is not a problem: the people receiving the money and the people who are not paying attention. The two major parties and their respective supporters spent as much as $60 million on the gubernatorial recall election in addition to spending almost $40 million in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Two men spent $100 million to battle for a job that pays $140,000 a year plus benefits. And we are supposed to trust these people with our state budget?

Do we continue to look the other way, while politicians spend massive amounts of money on ads (Walker is currently spending $245,000 on a TV ad campaign to run for over a week) while our children go hungry? In Wisconsin, the number of children on free and reduced-cost lunch has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Our politicians understand the importance of keeping money out of politics, as they wrote it into our state statutes: "When the true source of support or extent of support is not fully disclosed, or when a candidate becomes overly dependent upon large private contributors, the democratic process is subjected to a potential corrupting influence."

Abraham Lincoln warned us that if we enthrone corporations, "an era of corruption in high places will follow." There is no higher place than our statehouse.

We also need to look at the silly claims that Johnson and Eric O'Keefe, head of Wisconsin Club For Growth, among others, have made. They assert that their First Amendment rights were violated due to the John Doe investigation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The First Amendment tells us that Congress shall make no law "abridging the freedom of speech." At no time have Johnson or O'Keefe lost their rights to free speech. They have the same rights that you and I do. What they have lost is the ability to collect unlimited amounts of anonymous money to use, with the collaboration of elected officials, to work together in coordination to get as many members of one party elected.

The question we have to ask is not whether Walker will face criminal charges. The question we need to ask as a society is: Do we want to outsource our elections and our politicians to a handful of multimillionaires? As Thomas Paine said, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right."

No matter what the outcome of the second John Doe, it is wrong to have politicians collaborating with outside dark money groups. We need to start holding our elected representatives to a higher standard of ethics and personal responsibility.

Jeff Simpson of Cottage Grove is a small business owner, member of the Monona Grove School Board and Progressive blogger.


  1. Don't forget that the dark money is tax deductible. So the rest of us need to pay their share of the taxes. We get screwed both ways.

  2. We've seen the same corporate agenda in each state controlled by the Republicans. The ALEC agenda includes limiting voting, busting unions, de-regulating business, gerrymander districts and demean and denigrate public employees and pit workers against workers, all the while rewarding corporate donors with tax breaks that increase their wealth but not that of the citizens of the state. They promote the top 1% at the expense of the inequality of the rest of us.

  3. The Confederates that lost the war, never ended their war, they only pursued it differently.

    1. This is a big truth, though it's rarely spoken.

      I recommend the excellent civil war history found in Battle Cry of Freedom. When you read the about the 15 years of political history that lead to the attack Fort Sumter, the parallels to our current situation are amazing. I sort of like to substitute the economics surrounding fossil fuels, big pharma and big ag for slaves when I think of our current situation, but the tea-publicans and the traitorous southern separatists are nearly identical in rhetoric and full on self involved stupidity.

      The only thing that could seal the deal (deja vu wise) would be a tea-publican congressman caining a Democrat to death on the steps of the capitol. Essentially I see our situation as the lead up to a violent cataclysm that will either kill a great many of us, or will or, possibly result in the next move forward in organized society.

      The civil war was , if nothing else, was the beginning of the end of the age of human powered industry that came with the advent of fossil fuel powered machinery. Now as we prepare to move on to the next big step in our evolution, the old guard is quite willing to destroy damn near everything in a infantile attempt to keep their power and prestige. If we are lucky, they will not prevail. if we are unlucky, a great many of us will die or at least, be returned to something akin to the the middle ages.

    2. You win the Internet today. They are indeed Confederate traitors.

    3. RIP Mark Mayfield founding dude for the Mississippi Tea Party. Dirty republican politics weren't worht it. Hey Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham it isn't a joke anymore.

  4. One of today's SCOTUS rulings about public employees paying union dues says that we shouldn't have to pay for what we don't support. This would seem to include us paying the taxes for those that donate our money to these 501(c) 3 and 4's. And also the churches.

  5. bwah ha ha ha ha!

    Now I know why you stand up for the most racist schools in America -- YOU ARE ON THE BOARD OF ONE OF THEM!

    How come no posts about the way public schools under-serve non-majority children and then misleadingly blame the kids by calling it an "achievement gap"?

    Oh yeah -- you are on the board of one of the most racist school districts in the state!

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    No wonder you support the institutionalized racism in the state's public schools!

    1. Pretty sure Andover Prep is among the the most racist schools in America; but this list is probably as comprehensive as any: