Our duly elected representatives in the state legislature are busily selling off both Wisconsin’s land and its reputation for honest and open government. Meanwhile, we are watching football and hunting ducks and texting our friends; we won’t notice until it is too late that some of the things we value most about Wisconsin are gone forever.
There are three bills in particular that threaten Wisconsin values. The first, Assembly Bill 68, is a partisan piece of legislation that would exempt politicians from being investigated for misconduct, bribery, theft, any violations of campaign finance laws, corrupt influence of other legislators, extortion, criminal violation of state ethics rules and many other transgressions. It is troubling that our legislators are even considering this kind of a law.
Another very troubling bill is Assembly Bill 388 which would dismantle the Government Accountability Board. This board has been non-partisan watchdog group that oversees the election process in Wisconsin, insuring that campaign laws, ethics and lobbying are all conducted legally. The current board of six non-partisan, retired judges will be replaced by 12 partisan representatives appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. This change will shut down oversight of Wisconsin’s elections.
The next bad idea is Assembly Bill 387; this bill will allow much more secret money from outside Wisconsin to be used to influence our elections and our public policy decisions. It will legalize now illegal campaign coordination and allow legislative leaders to accept unlimited money for their campaign “slush funds.” This will allow these leaders to control other legislators and to funnel more secret money into state decisions.
All of these bills allow corruption to enter our government without detection or consequence. Influence will be for sale, along with hundreds of acres of public land, land now held by the people of Wisconsin through the Department of Natural Resources. This land will be turned over to private interests without the consent of the public.
All of this greed and self-interest saddens me immensely. This is not the Wisconsin I know and love. I fear for the consequences these laws will have on our future and for the scandals that will soon haunt our Capitol.
Mimi Wuest teaches sociology and psychology at Madison Area Technical College in Reedsburg.