Campaign finance law stands in generally low repute, blamed as it is for failing to curtail the supposedly unsavory role of money in elections. Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature now propose revisions to increase contribution limits and index them for inflation. Naturally, legislative Democrats detect the end of representative democracy lurking ‘round the corner.
But it’s worth remembering that existing campaign finance laws, lax, according to Democrats, in controlling political spending were created by Democrats who set out in the 1970s to diminish the influence of wealthy contributors and succeeded instead in diminishing the influence of political parties, including their own. Undeterred, Democrats now deplore dominance over parties by the ideological purists their reforms empowered.
Today’s Wisconsin Democrats make it a high priority to defend misbegotten reforms on all fronts, thus they even leap to the aid of one enacted with Republican help. Nowadays, when the adjective “nonpartisan” appears alongside the name “Government Accountability Board,” it’s a reasonable guess that you’re listening to Wisconsin Public Radio or reading a Democratic press release.
The “nonpartisan” GAB staff has two division administrators. One is a former Democratic candidate for the Assembly, the other a former uber-liberal member of the Dane County Board. Individual identities are difficult to verify, but their subordinates appear to include a handful of probable Walker recall petition signers.
That, however, isn’t the most amusing aspect of GAB nonpartisanship and its Democrat-led defense. The most amusing aspect is the reaction to Republicans proposing to replace the board with partisan appointees in equal numbers, to check each others’ excesses.
Democrats convincingly simulate horror at that arrangement which, oddly enough, is the one they favored when they created the old state Elections Board that predated the malfeasant GAB.