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White Thanksgiving, skeletons & 13% support for WI bill

White Thanksgiving, skeletons & 13% support for WI bill

November 23, 2015 @ 7:19 am
by admin
in Blog
Five days in the land of President Obama (Chicago) and Governor Walker (Wisconsin) culminated with Thanksgiving week snow and legislative proposals regarding unpopular attempts to hide who is giving millions of dollars (including illegal foreign money) to political campaigns.

The timing of the visit was important. At a time when the US faces serious foreign threats, we CANNOT condone or tolerate foreign money influencing our elections.

This week a federal bill was drafted to stop the practice started in 2008 of processing credit card contributions to politicians without verifying addresses to see if they were coming from American citizens. Also, this week the Wisconsin legislature passed measures to enable undisclosed large donations to go to third parties that could become practically extensions of the official campaign.

Take Back Our Republic opposes and is very concerned about BOTH practices because the move in this direction invites hundreds of millions in foreign money into American politics at the worst time possible. Therefore, we support the bill to stop this credit card loophole (see our white paper on the practice), which will likely start in the Committee on House Administration. We oppose the measure that moved Wisconsin toward the federal model of an FEC that cannot enforce any laws against foreign money (we actually want the federal law to move toward the old Wisconsin model by enabling the FEC to find and stop foreign donors from flooding money into US votes, as covered in a Breitbart piece).

Only 25% of Illinois residents we surveyed back the credit card practice started in 2008 (and now used by more than 100 Congressional candidates from both parties)! This week a Marquette poll showed only 13% of Wisconsinites support the new legislation.

There is a little good news, as Wisconsin legislators of both parties signed on to back legislation co-sponsored by Senator Duey Stroebel to stop legislators from “cashing in” by going directly to a lobbying firm from the legislature. I was able to meet with former Chicago-area State Senator Beth Coulson (top left photo) and Green Bay-area State Senator Robert Cowles (top right), two Republicans who joined Democrats to strongly support reform.

I also appreciate those who have won local races in Wisconsin (Kristy Casey, Wauwautosa School Board and William Demet, Whitefish Bay Trustee in bottom of photo above) talking with me to learn about the educational effort of Take Back Our Republic.

But beyond elected officials it was amazing how much every day Wisconsinites understand these issues. Dropping into places like the Tree Ghost in Hubertus, Wisconsin [see photo of outdoor football scene and inside the actual Tree Ghostcraft shop] and being able to speak with locals shows that they know about politics and campaign contributions – this after being subjected to three brutal Gubernatorial races and being a battleground state for recent Presidential runs.
We also appreciate media throughout the state hearing us out – from the Oshkosh Northwestern that has operated out of the same building since 1930, to the progressive Shepherd Express in downtown Milwaukee.

We appreciate all the people of all ideological stripes who heard us out in this trip on how the credit card loophole is creating an avenue for “modern bags of money” to be shipped into American campaigns. Not verifying credit cards may have started as an attempt to make sure a citizen’s contribution was not held up by a typo in a zip code. But if your teenager forgets their keys one night, you do not respond by leaving your front door wide open all night – which is the kind of invitation this practice gives for massive foreign contributions (see article in Atlanta Journal-Constitution here). Likewise, the Wisconsin legislation likely started as an attempt to protect donors from retribution, but that practice can be addressed in other ways (see our Educational Paper on Retaliation for Political Contributions) rather than by inviting foreign contributions and influence.

The focus is not on which party created which problem – it is a non-partisan approach to educate the public on the fact that there are foreign interests with incredible amounts of money at their disposal that will take advantage of laws that make it possible to send hundreds of millions of dollars to influence US policy (the figure estimated by one retired bank president) whether it be through a few huge undisclosed checks funneled through dark money avenues or a million unverified credit card contributions of $200 to avoid reporting.

Summary – All 4 Goals met

In summary, this trip was a model for the four facets of each trip we make. We appreciate any of you who can help us facilitate a trip to your area:

  1. Contributions. We need your tax deductible contribution to www.takeback.org. Whenever we travel, we need to at least offset the costs of the trip. To that end, we appreciate the half dozen new donors who originated from the trip. Looking ahead, we appreciate our hosts for fundraisers in Western Massachusetts on December 3, in Boston on December 7, and in New York on January 26. Take Back would love to have a fundraiser in your area.
  2. List/Membership Building. Thank you to the 19 people who came to the second meeting of the Wisconsin chapter of Take Back Our Republic held at Mader’s Restaurant (bottom photo in Mader’s restaurant, which has been in downtown Milwaukee since 1902). We are encouraged by the MANY follow-up calls with key people and groups that are being set up as a result.
  3. Media. Thanks to those who helped set up the interviews in Oshkosh, at the Shepherd Express, and everyone in between (both ideologically and geographically).
  4. Education/Policy. Our focus on educating the public must be a two-way process. Our hope is to send out more and more “surrogate listeners” as well as “surrogate speakers.” We appreciate everyone who met this week from the young conservative who had been active in Iowa Caucuses, to the progressive activist who made the trip from Madison, Wisconsin, (Madison has been the scene of so many large protests in past years), to a couple of President Obama’s earlier supporters from before he was even a State Senator, and to several conservatives concerned that disclosure leads to retribution.

No matter who starts a bad practice such as creating avenues for undisclosed foreign money, transactional contributions, and undisclosed money for anonymous attacks – it will be copied by others.

Thank you for your help in this important cause. The reason viewers of the last GOP debate ranked “Campaign Finance Reform” just behind the top issue “Homeland Security” in importance is they see the connection in regards to the potential for foreign money to influence our policy.

We look forward to a short week back in our home office of Auburn, Alabama before celebrating Thanksgiving with our families. Whether you have a short week, or are getting the entire week off for Thanksgiving, we hope you get a break and focus on the most important things.

John Pudner, Executive Director
Take Back Our Republic

P.S. When you get back from the Thanksgiving weekend you will still have 31 days to make a tax deductible contribution at www.takeback.org or by writing a check to “Take Back Our Republic” and mailing it to 246 E. Glenn Avenue, Auburn, AL 36830. (See legal notices on our registration to raise money in all 50 states and DC here). Or you might just want to send a donation now so you do not have to remember it over the four-day weekend and can be sure to claim it on your taxes ☺

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