Today we find out that the Republicans in the Assembly reversed a four year old policy of banning political contributions during the budget process.
With this decision I believe it is now more important then ever to bring back the WECF. The table is already stacked against challengers for political office and this recently added benefit only adds to the uphill battle they face.
The WECF had allowed a candidate for the Assembly to raise about $2,000 during an election year and the qualify for a $7,000 grant from the state. For the Senate the totals double. By accepting the grant the candidate also promises to abide by campaign spending restrictions.
Another advantage an incumbent has over a challenger is that they can raise money - as the change mentioned above does - before they claim candidate status. A challenger for office cannot raise money before filling out a GAB-1 form with the Government Accountability Board, something an incumbent doesn't need to do.
A change I proposed in the rules to qualify for the WECF is that money raised by a candidate as soon as they legally state their intention to run be used as qualifying funds. In the past only money raised after the Jan. 1 of the year of an election would qualify. This again puts a challenger at a disadvantage as they would often have to delay fund raising to qualify for the grant.
I'm going to do something I've never done before and ask that you contact your State Representative and Senator and encourage them to support the reestablishment of the WECF Grant. Below is a list of legislative leaders and the members of the Joint Finance Committee to contact along with a sample email to send.
This is a non-partisan attempt to make campaigns in Wisconsin more fair and I hope you will join this effort.
Gov Scott Walker - email@example.com
Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos - Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov
Joint Finance Committee
Sen Alberta Darling (co-chair) - Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Luther Olson - Sen.Olsen@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Sheila Harsdorf - Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Glenn Grothman - Sen.Grothman@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Joseph Leibham - Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Mary Lazich - Sen.Lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Jennifer Shilling - Sen.Shilling@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen Robert Wirch - Sen.Wirch@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep John Nygren (co-chair) - Rep.Nygren@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Patricia Strachota - Rep.Strachota@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Daniel LeMahieu - Rep.LeMahieu@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Dale Kooyenga - Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Dean Knudson - Rep.Knudson@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep John Klenke - Rep.Klenke@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Cory Mason - Rep.Mason@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep Jon Richards - Rep.Richards@legis.wisconsin.gov
Hello, my name is Xxx Xxxxxxxx and I’m writing to encourage you to reinstate the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund Grant Award. I have a couple of different reasons for this request.
First of all from what I can tell the WECF has had very little impact on the state budget because of it’s funding via a check off on the Wisconsin Tax form. You obviously have more information on this, but I haven’t been able to find any on line sources to prove or deny this viewpoint.Secondly this added funding would help maintain competition for legislative offices in Wisconsin and increase citizen participation.Along with the reinstatement of the WECF, I’d also ask that you make the following change. Allow all money collected once the candidate files their GAB-1 to qualify towards the funds raised. In the past one had to raise qualifying funds from Jan. – Sept. of the election year. This puts the candidate using the WECF at a disadvantage as current legislators can start raising money right after the budget process and those who are running against them need to spread out their fundraising so they can qualify for the WECF.Thank you very much for your attention to this suggestion and I sincerely hope you will move forward with reinstating the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund Grant Award.With Respect,
Disclaimer - If I choose to run for political office in the future I will utilize the WECF Grant, though that isn't my main intention.