Contact: Matt Kozlowski - Admin@ProDane.org, (715) 571-1577
For Immediate Release:
June 19th, 2013
PROGRESSIVE DANE APPLAUDS MAYOR'S EFFORTS ON DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE, DESPITE REJECTION
At last night's meeting, Madison's Common Council voted down an ordinance to require individuals or entities contracting with the City to disclose political contributions made to advocacy organizations. In doing so, Madison missed an opportunity to strengthen disclosure and protect the public from corruption.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, money has poured into super PAC's and other 501(c)(4) organizations, with over $6 billion spent in the 2012 elections–the most expensive election cycle in history. While the Citizens United decision prevented restrictions on the amount of expenditures for election-related activity, the disclosure of such expenditures is permissible.
"Requiring city contractors to disclose their political contributions would help ensure that the political process isn't being corrupted by entities with a financial stake in the outcome," said Matt Kozlowski, Treasurer of Progressive Dane. "Disclosure sheds light on potential corruption and undue influence in our political system and allows the public to determine if our ordinances and contracts are being bought, not based on merit"
The ordinance failed by a vote of 9-11, with Alders Cnare, Kind, Palm, Phair, Schmidt, Skidmore, Strasser, Weier, Bidar-Sielaff, Cheeks, and Clear all voting against disclosure rules.
In addition to supporting the disclosure ordinance, Progressive Dane has made the following recommendations in order to ensure that campaign finance disclosure is adequate and accessible:
- Require candidates to file reports on the standard, state-provided form to ensure that voters are able to read and understand financial disclosures
- Require that the Clerk's office actively report when candidates fail to file disclosures adequately, or at all.
- Increase the frequency of annual audits of campaign committees and advocacy groups, and publish any and all findings.
- Require reports to be typed and presented in a clearly legible fashion.
- Increase the frequency of reports in order to ensure that voters receive disclosures in a timely manner
"These common sense solutions can be implemented at little to no cost to the taxpayer and would greatly increase the effectiveness of our campaign finance system here in Madison" says Kozlowski.
Progressive Dane is the Progressive Political Party in Dane County, Wisconsin.
PO Box 1222, Madison, WI 53701
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Below is the text of the proposed ordinance:
"4.28 REQUIRED DISCLOSURES.
(1) Findings. Information on the political and advocacy expenditures of organizations is essential to the operation of a democracy, informing voters and governments about the activities of those attempting to influence the operations of government. Such disclosures further the end of halting corruption or the appearance of corruption. Significant political contributions and expenditures need not be disclosed under existing law. The City of Madison desires to further the ends of sunshine and information by requiring the disclosure of such information not otherwise available to the public.
(2) Definitions. As used in this subsection:
(a) "Advocacy Organization" is any person or organization, including the Contracting Party, operating within Wisconsin within the prior two years and qualifying under sec. 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code
(b) "Contracting Party" is any person or entity with a contract with the city under which the person or entity will be paid more than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) excluding the following contracts: public works contracts, sole source contracts, contracts purchased through State of Wisconsin purchasing, CSC contracts, CDBG contracts, City manager contracts, and any contract where State or Federal regulations do not allow the disclosures in this ordinance.
(c) "Contribution" is a voluntary contribution and does not include payments made for goods or services received, nor does it include contributions to campaign committees or other organizations that are reported to the federal, state or local government, and available to the public. It does include contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations.
(3) Any Contracting Party shall, as a condition of doing business with the City, disclose whether it, or any person with an ownership interest of ten percent (10%) or greater in the Contracting Party, has made Contributions to an Advocacy Organization within the prior two (2) calendar years and, if so, the name of the Advocacy Organization and amount of the Contribution. Disclosure shall be made within thirty (30) days of entry into the contract with the City. Failure to make the disclosure within thirty (30) days of the time of entry into the contract means the Contracting Party is ineligible for any other City contracts of any value, other than those excluded from this ordinance, for the balance of the calendar year and the next succeeding year. Any challenge to such ineligibility shall be heard under Sec. 9.49, MGO.
(4) The disclosure required by this section shall be in addition to any other disclosures required elsewhere in these Ordinances or other applicable law. The disclosures required by this section may not be used in or constitute a standard for the award of a City contract.
(5) Each City Department or Division shall monitor compliance with this section for any contracts under its authority, shall notify all Department and Division heads of non-compliance by any contractor and the duration of any disbarment, and shall file the disclosures with the City clerk, which are available to the public. Language reflecting the requirements of this ordinance shall be included in all contracts covered by this ordinance.
(6) This ordinance shall be effective January 1, 2014."