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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Good News: 29 State Legislators Not On The Take

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued their latest report on contributions for 2009 to state legislators showing dollar amounts and the percentages of contributions coming from inside and outside their districts.

As can be expected, the Janesville Gazette cherry-picked from the report what they needed to editorialize support for their misguided political mission against local democratic state legislators.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Brett Davis, R-Oregon, falls into the latter category. He’s running for lieutenant governor and pulled in more than $62,000, or 64 percent of his $97,000, in donations from outsiders. Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, collected less at $25,000, but he trumped Davis in one figure—92 percent of big donations came from outside his district.
One thing Sheridan has as assembly speaker that Davis doesn't and hopefully never will is what can be viewed as a statewide position. Remember, these contribution figures are for 2009.

But lets put it this way, Brett Davis, a republican running for lieutenant governor, is nearly four times on-the-take compared to Mike Sheridan. That's right, Davis took in a total of $97,438 to Sheridan's $25,221. Davis's out of district total is $62,592- nearly three times the out of district amount for Sheridan. In addition, two of the three top money collectors are Republicans whose amounts are nearly double than those listed next up in contributions. The editors at the Gazette don't tell you any of this. Percentages are important but money trails and influence are not bought with percentages, they're bought with dollars. I'm not making any excuses for anyone - just stating the facts.

Yet newspapers like the Gazette who deny their partisanship, will regurgitate the WDC's report to pick apart individual legislators of their choosing without offering any genuine analysis or substantive proof.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Sheridan’s critics—and we’ve been among them—could reasonably argue that special-interest money reveals why payday loan legislation wound up weaker than Sheridan’s previous stance.
Here is where the WDC's report, with a little 5th-grade math and curiosity, practically proves how unreasonably wrong the Gazette really is.

Once Again - Republicans Killed The Interest Rate Cap

If you recall, the decision to table the interest rate cap in the Assembly was approved (I'm using only the Assembly because Sheridan is the Speaker) by a margin of 56 - 41. Now, if we crosscheck only the legislators who collected zero dollars (there are 29 of them, 21 of them in Assembly) from outside their districts to their votes on the interest rate cap amendment, we find that the interest cap would have still been defeated. That's right, clean money legislators would have defeated the cap in a 12 to 9 vote. But here's what I found both disturbing and confirming. Clean money democrats voted NOT to strike down the interest cap by a 7 to 3 margin. Clean money republicans overwhelmed the Dems with an 8 to 2 (one Indy, Wood, voted the Republican's position) vote to kill the cap. This is a clear yet rare case in point how rigid party ideology and not money, was the main reason why Wisconsin's payday loan reform did not contain an interest rate cap.

I was surprised by the cross-checked results myself. I really expected the majority of clean money legislators, regardless of party, to vote in favor of an interest cap. But it confirmed all my earlier posts that Republicans and not Sheridan were primarily responsible for killing an interest rate cap on payday loans. The Gazette continues to want people to think otherwise.

But there is a bright side to the Democracy Campaign's report - a very bright side. At the bottom of the page (really should have been the top of the page) is a list of those 29 legislators from both parties who did not take one dime from special interests outside their district. That includes (God forgive me) Republicans on the list. As much as I'll challenge their twisted moral values and backward political philosophy, their loyalty and service to their respective districts cannot be impinged. Those are the names their respective political party's should be mentioning and trumpeting as a example for the rest of the state's legislators and candidates to follow.

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