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Letters: Alleviate lack of transparency, unlimited spending around campaign contributions

in News/Opinion

Dear editor:

On Nov. 6, the village of Weston and the town of Rib Mountain election ballots will include a referendum question related to amending the U.S. Constitution to alleviate the lack of transparency and unlimited spending limits that currently exist.

One hundred thirty-three other Wisconsin counties and municipalities have currently passed a similar referendum or resolution, including the city of Wausau in 2014, Merrill in 2017 and Wittenberg and Marshfield earlier this year.

Following are several points that give background on the issue:

  • It’s non-partisan. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans are concerned about campaign financing as currently conducted by all political parties. Both major political parties now utilize the legal dark money to help finance their campaigns.
  • Supreme Court rulings that protect 1) money as speech (unlimited campaign spending), 2) the corporate right to speech as equivalent to that of individuals, and 3) unlimited corporate spending on candidate elections have led to unprecedented amounts of money being spent on election campaigns. Currently, there is no transparency as to who is donating, where the donors are from and how much they are spending (aka dark money).
  • Supporting the referendum tells our state and federal elected officials that voters are unhappy with how campaign financing is working now. It suggests that some type of regulation is in order, with the goal of equal and transparent campaign financing — where the wishes of the voter are not dwarfed by those of large, monied, often private entities such as Political Actions Committees. Amendment supporters fear that those who heavily finance the campaigns, often while their identities and countries of residence are shielded, gain significant influence with the candidates they finance.  
  • Supporting the referendum does not say that unions, corporations and PACs should not be allowed to participate and support their candidates, but that regulations promoting disclosure, transparency and spending limits apply to them also, removing  the influence of dark money in our election process. Indeed, campaign contributions from unions in the past have, for the most part, been transparent.

For these reasons, we urge the voters in Weston and Rib Mountain to vote YES on their Nov. 6 referendum.

Kay Meyer, Rib Mountain

Carolyn Michalski, Weston

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