“Jeb Bush’s Lobbying Reform Plan Probably Won’t Rein In K Street”

Russ Choma for Mother Jones:

The issue is that the six-year ban would only prevent former members of Congress from taking part in “official” lobbying—a very specifically defined set of activities. Avoid those activities—or earn less than 20 percent of your income from lobbying activities—and you can avoid registering as a lobbyist. There’s no shortage of high-profile ex-lawmakers who have used this loophole to sell their insider expertise and thick Rolodexes to the highest bidder without ever registering as a lobbyist. Former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle has worked for three lobbying firms since his departure from Congress 10 years ago, never once officially registering as a lobbyist. Instead, Daschle has served as a “senior policy advisor.” Similarly, upon leaving Congress in 1999, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich immediately went to work for a number of private interests offering “quasi-lobbying” services, but called his work anything but lobbying. Notably, Gingrich was paid $1.65 million for his work as a “historian” for mortgage lender Freddie Mac.



“The Judging of Politicians by Judges, Part II: Blagojevich in the Seventh Circuit”

Bauer on Blagojevich:

The Court seems to believe that, where the political trading is for government posts, thecost of public corruption is somehow more limited, more tolerable. It is just a government salary’s worth of political self-dealing. Of course, it is more than that: there is also the question of the quality of administration, of service to the public. Compare that to the purchase of “access” with campaign funds, by which the donor is just offered, for her political support, a chance to make her case, and not everyone would agree on which of the two kinds of trades is more costly.

There also seems to be a belief that the deals politicians cut with each other should be given more room than the deals between politicians and their supporters or donors, because it has always been the “everyday politics” of interactions among politicians that helps the government run.   There is merit in this view, up to a point. So would say the “political realists.” Others, including some of the realists, might worry about a view of public corruption that zeros in on political supporters’ “access” while politicians trade more freely in taxpayer funds and in the services that these taxpayers are supposed to get for the money.


Analysis: 7th Circuit Unanimously Rejects Some Charges Against IL Gov. Blagojevich

You can find the 23-page unanimous decision written by Judge Easterbrook at this link.

Given how short this opinion is, it is not clear why there was such a long delay in issuing this opinion.

Most of the charge were upheld, but the court found instructional error as to some of charges, particularly those related to a deal for political, as opposed to personal, deals for political favors.

What we have said so far requires the reversal of the convictions on Counts 5, 6, 21, 22, and 23, though the prosecutor is free to try again without reliance on Blagojevich’s quest for a position in the Cabinet. (The evidence that Blagojevich sought money in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate is sufficient to convict, so there is no double‑jeopardy obstacle to retrial. See Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978).) Because many other convictions remain and the district judge imposed concurrent sentences, the prosecutor may think retrial unnecessary—but the judge may have considered the sought‑after Cabinet appointment in determining the length of the sentence, so we remand for re-sentencing across the board.

He remains in jail pending retrial:

The convictions on Counts 5, 6, 21, 22, and 23 are vacated; the remaining convictions are affirmed. The sentence is vacated, and the case is remanded for retrial on the vacated counts. Circuit Rule 36 will not apply. If the prosecutor elects to drop these charges, then the district court should proceed directly to resentencing. Because we have affirmed the convictions on most counts and concluded that the advisory sentencing range lies above 168 months, Blagojevich is not entitled to be released pending these further proceedings.

The legal issue on which the 7th Circuit reversed is a fascinating one, and it could provide the basis for Supreme Court review. However the federal government may not bother given that they won much of the case.

[This post has been updated.]


“The Only Realistic Way to Fix Campaign Finance”

Larry Lessig NYT oped:

The solution proposed by some, notably Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Graham and Mr. Sanders, is amending the Constitution.

It sounds appealing, but anyone who’s serious about reform should not buy it. For a presidential candidate, constitutional reform is fake reform. And no candidate who talks exclusively about amending the Constitution can be considered a credible reformer.

This is not because we don’t need constitutional reform. Of course we do. No sane constitutional designer would have picked the mix of restrictions and rights that our Constitution has been read to embrace. And with due respect to the Supreme Court, neither did our framers. Amendments will be essential to restoring this democracy, just as a healthy diet is essential to the recovery of a patient who has suffered a heart attack.

Nor is this because a constitutional amendment is impossible. No doubt it is ridiculously difficult to amend our Constitution. The veto of one house in just 13 states — representing as little as 5 percent of the American public — could block an amendment. But in the last hundred years we’ve added 10 amendments to our Constitution, with an average ratification time (excepting the most recent, which took 202 years) of less than 16 months. We’ve done it before; we can do it again.

Nor does this mean that the many reform organizations pushing for a constitutional amendment are not themselves true reformers. Of course they are, and their work is the most important force building the essential political movement that real reform will require.

But even if we could pass amendment to reverse Citizens United soon (and not since the Civil War has an amendment been adopted with support from just one party), it would not solve the problem of money’s influence in American politics.



“In Defense of the Equal Sovereignty Principle”

Thomas Colby has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming Duke LJ).  Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court of the United States based its landmark decision in Shelby County v. Holder on the proposition that the Constitution contains “a fundamental principle of equal sovereignty among the States.” For the central holding of a blockbuster constitutional case, that assertion was surprisingly unsupported. The Court simply declared it to be true, and made little effort to substantiate it. Naked as it was, the Court’s conclusion prompted savage criticism not only from the left, but also from the right. The consensus critical reaction was epitomized by Judge Richard Posner’s remark that “the court’s invocation of equal sovereignty is an indispensable prop of the decision. But…there is no doctrine of equal sovereignty. The opinion rests on air.” Critics also worried that, because there are countless federal laws that can be said to treat the states disparately, the Court’s brand-new equal sovereignty principle is, as Justice Ginsburg put it in her strident dissent, “capable of much mischief.” This Article contends that the critics of Shelby County are only half right — and that the Shelby County majority, despite its cursory analysis, is half right too. The critics are correct that the Court seemingly pulled the equal sovereignty principle out of thin air — that it played a little too fast and loose with precedent and failed to wrestle adequately with constitutional text, structure, and history. Nonetheless, this Article concludes — after performing the thorough examination of the traditional sources of constitutional law that was missing from the ipse dixit of Shelby County — that there is indeed a deep principle of equal sovereignty that runs through the Constitution. In James Madison’s words, the Constitution contemplates “a government of a federal nature, consisting of many coequal sovereigns.” Properly understood, however, the equal sovereignty principle is not a guarantee of state equality in all respects. It guarantees only equal sovereignty — equal capacity for self-government — which makes it more fundamental, but also less expansive, than critics have feared.


“Voter in L.A. school board race wins $25,000 for casting a ballot”


An experiment in boosting chronic low-turnout local elections ended Friday when Rojas, a 35-year-old security guard, received a check for winning a lottery that included every voter in District 5 for the Los Angeles Board of Education.

“I was shocked,” Rojas said. “I still can’t believe it.”

The contest comes as officials are trying to get voters to the polls. In Los Angeles County only 31% of registered voters cast ballots in the November 2014 statewide election. Turnout was particularly low among Latinos, at only 23%. Figures for local elections are more anemic. Last year, L.A. City officials talked about giving out prizes in hopes of increasing turnout.

The May runoff election in Los Angeles pitted incumbent Bennett Kayser against Ref Rodriguez, who won in a district that includes the area north and east of downtown as well as the cities of southeast L.A. County.

The lottery was the brainchild of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and its president, Antonio Gonzalez. A main focus of the nonprofit is increasing voter turnout, especially within the Latino community. The group also has recruited Latinos to run for office, although it cannot endorse candidates.


“Campaign watchdog questions nonprofit that backs Kasich”

Columbus Dispatch:

A campaign watchdog is questioning whether Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s newest TV ad may violate federal campaign finance laws.

The ad, a positive ad on Kasich’s history of balancing budgets, is scheduled to begin airing Tuesday in New Hampshire. The ad was purchased by “New Day for America,” the 527 nonprofit group that supports Kasich.

But Tuesday is also the day that Kasich is expected to declare that he is running for president, and the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C. campaign watchdog, said it is worried that the ad may violate laws aimed at limiting contributions to presidential campaigns.


“House Members Urge Obama to Veto Bill if Campaign Finance Riders Not Removed”

Democracy 21 Press Release:

Today, 47 members of the House of Representatives signed and sent a letter to President Obama urging the President to block campaign finance riders that have been placed in the House Financial Services Appropriations bill.

The letter organized by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) states that the bill would prevent the Executive Branch from issuing rules to require campaign finance disclosure by government contractors and non-profit “social welfare” organizations, as well as shareholder disclosure by corporations.

The letter from House members urges the president to veto this legislation if the riders are not removed from the bill.


“Small donor myth debunked; The heavily touted grassroots fundraising engines were largely spin, a POLITICO analysis shows.”


Clinton’s fundraising juggernaut of a campaign for the Democratic nomination, which repeatedly pledged to build “a grassroots-driven organization,” revealed in its FEC report that 67 percent of its field-leading $47 million in primary-election cash came from donors contributing $2,700 or more. Only 18 percent came from donations of $200 or less.

That puts Clinton roughly in the middle of pack as far as the percentage of cash raised from small donors during the second-quarter fundraising period that ran from the beginning of April through the end of last month.

At the low end was Jeb Bush, whose campaign paced the field of Republican presidential hopefuls by raising $11.4 million in the second quarter. But only three percent of that came from donors who gave $200 or less. By contrast, Bush raised 88 percent of his cash from donors who gave the primary maximum of $2,700 or more – the highest such percentage in the field.

By far the leader in small-dollar fundraising was Bernie Sanders. His insurgent campaign for the Democratic nomination raised more than 75 percent of its $13.6-million haul from donors who gave $200 or less, versus only 2 percent from maximum donors.



“Statement on G.A.B.’s Future”

Well said:

July 20, 2015

MADISON, WI – Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, today issued this statement:

There has been a great deal of misinformation about the Government Accountability Board in the past two weeks, especially following Thursday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling.  The G.A.B. has been a Wisconsin success story, and in many important ways has achieved what the Legislature intended by combining two separate agencies.  At the time, the Legislature determined that Wisconsin needed an independent watchdog to ensure that elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws are administered and enforced in a transparent nonpartisan manner.  Those goals remain central to our daily work at the G.A.B.

The G.A.B. has established itself as a model to be emulated throughout the country.  We have been nationally recognized as one of the top performing states in the administration of elections, lobbying and campaign finance laws.  We have been consistently commended by our local election partners and customers as indispensable to the effective and fair administration of those laws.  Policymakers and elected officials should be bragging about and taking credit for the structure and accomplishments of the G.A.B., and ensuring that it has the resources to continue its statutory responsibilities.  Unfortunately, it has become more expedient to use the G.A.B. as a political target than to honestly assess its performance.

In establishing the requirements for our Board and staff, the Legislature determined that this agency would be accountable not only to partisans, but to our many customers.  We receive strong, positive feedback every day regarding the assistance we provide to local clerks, candidates and political committees, public officials, and voters.  Almost all of that work is completely separate from the political dramas that make the headlines.

Even in the midst of controversies and events outside its control, the nonpartisan and professional G.A.B. has proven its value.  It has been thoughtful and thorough in responding to any concerns raised by the Legislature and others.  The G.A.B.’s efforts to implement recommendations resulting from the recent legislative audit were swift and complete.  And while the G.A.B. is often sued as the agency that enforces and administers election and campaign finance laws, typically any negative court decisions result from shortcomings in the laws that have been passed, not from decisions or actions of the G.A.B.

The Legislature expected and intended the Government Accountability Board to operate in a professional, unbiased, and nonpartisan manner.  In doing so, we have been accountable not to any single individual or political party, but to the will of the people of Wisconsin as expressed in its laws.  The Legislature and Governor are free to change those laws of course, but I am proud of what the agency has achieved since its inception.  It would be shortsighted to simply disregard that success.



“Seeing Crowd, G.O.P. Donors Holding Back”


Despite a wealth of choices in a crowded primary field, the vast majority of high-level Republican donors and fund-raisers have not yet backed any candidate financially, magnifying the importance of the coming debates as the presidential hopefuls seek to impress potential backers.

Only about a fifth of the 1,000 or so fund-raisers and their spouses who rallied around Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, have given money to any of the 2016 candidates, according to a New York Times review of fund-raising records reported by the candidates last week.

Those who remain uncommitted — hundreds of volunteer “bundlers” who could collect contributions from their friends and business associates — represent a huge pool of untapped campaign cash, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, that could remake the primary campaign.


Justice Alito on Citizens United, Redistricting in Bill Kristol Interview

Transcript (video):

KRISTOL: And I read somewhere that [your father] sort of personally had to do the redistricting of the legislative district after the Supreme Court insisted on one man, one vote.

ALITO: I remember lying in bed listening to this clanking of a mechanical – it’s hard to believe – a mechanical adding machine. He was downstairs, and he was drawing maps to try to produce districts for the Senate and for the Assembly that were as close as possible to equal in population just using a mechanical adding machine….

ALITO: It was happening a lot. People were making up, you know, claiming to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, that’s what this Mr. Alvarez did, said, “Well, I won the Congressional Medal of Honor.” Well, he had done no such thing.

And the Court struck down that statue six to three. But I think what – those cases involve a diversion, I think, of attention from the core, from what is most important about the guarantee of freedom of speech.

I think freedom of speech protects and serves many purposes, but I believe and I think the Court has said that at the core, whatever other purposes it may serve, it is vitally important for democratic self-government. If people cannot debate public issues, if they cannot debate the relative merits of political candidates, then democracy is basically impossible. So I think that is the core of the protection. These cases involving depictions of animal videos, depictions of animal cruelty, the protest at military funerals, flashy claiming to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor don’t involve anything like that.

And if we lose focus on what is at the core of the free-speech protection by concentrating on these peripheral issues, I think, there’s a real danger that our free-speech cases will go off in a bad direction. In the cases that we’ve had that I think involve core free speech, the example, the chief example that I would give from my time on the court is the Citizens United case. The Court has – now that came out five to four, protecting the right to freedom of speech, but it was five to four. And it remains very controversial.

My former colleague John Paul Stevens has written a book recommending a number of constitutional amendments to correct the decisions he really disagreed with during his time on the Court and that’s one of them. He wants an amendment to the First Amendment, which is pretty remarkable, to overrule the decision in Citizens United. Citizens United, I think, is core political speech. It is a video about a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. If that’s not protected by First Amendment free speech, by the First Amendment free speech guarantee, I don’t know what is.

So on things that are at the core, the Court has been shakier than it has been on these things that are at the periphery.




“Delayed FEC Cases Match Romney Super PAC Complaints”

Bloomberg BNA:

The Federal Election Commission apparently has struggled for nearly four years to decide what to do about allegations that millions of dollars in contributions to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign super PAC violated rules against making contributions under another name.
Paul S. Ryan, an attorney with the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center (CLC), helped draft three FEC complaints filed in August 2011 involving the super PAC supporting Romney, who became the Republican nominee in 2012. The Romney super PAC was known as Restore Our Future.
The complaints were filed by CLC and Democracy 21, another nonprofit that supports strong campaign finance regulation.
Ryan told Bloomberg BNA that these three complaints appeared to match the three oldest pending enforcement matters listed on a memorandum and chart presented by FEC Commissioner Steven Walther July 16 and detailing the FEC’s current enforcement backlog (4053 Money & Politics Report, 7/17/15).

“John Doe ruling fuels call to punish prosecutors”

Wisconsin State Journal:

The director of a conservative group targeted in the John Doe probe the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently shut down is saying Gov. Scott Walker will be asked to fire the elected district attorney who started the investigation and that lawyers who participated in it should be disbarred.

But a former state Supreme Court justice said such threats are “shocking and outrageous,” and she blamed members of the current court majority with fueling such talk by including overheated rhetoric and “very strange” citations from magazine, newspaper and Internet articles in the ruling announced Thursday….

The John Doe special prosecutor, Schmitz, wouldn’t discuss his timetable for deciding whether he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an appeal, or say when he planned to comply with the state court’s order to return confiscated property and destroy copies of records gathered in the investigation.

However, Schmitz issued a statement saying that some justices ignored his responses denying certain allegations. “There has been no fact-finding hearing conducted at any level establishing, for example, that search warrants were executed unprofessionally,” Schmitz said in the statement. “It is wrong for the court to accept as true the information alleged by some of the Unnamed Movants (plaintiffs and other interested parties) and their media outlets.

Schmitz also disputed the court’s reasoning in declaring the state campaign finance law unconstitutional, noting outside groups don’t need to disclose donors, leaving the public in the dark about who funds politicians.



Scott Walker Wants to Replace Nonpartisan WI Election Administration Agency with Partisans


Also Monday, Walker argued for replacing the state Government Accountability Board, which is run by retired judges and oversees state elections and ethics laws. The board has taken criticism from conservatives on a number of issues including its participation into an investigation into Walker’s campaign that was halted last week by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Walker didn’t rule out the possibility that the judges now on the board would be replaced by partisan appointees in a replacement agency.

“It’s appropriate to just get rid of it and replace it with something that’s ultimately accountable and fair to the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) criticized Walker’s statement Monday, saying that those changes sought by Republicans would make the board less fair and accountable, not more.

“Clearly they want to have not election watchdogs. They want to have election lap dogs,” Barca said.


Conservative Echo Chamber in WI John Doe Case

Brendan Fischer:

5) Justices jumped right into the right-wing echo chamber

The legal issues before the Court involved the scope of Wisconsin campaign finance law and procedural issues surrounding the John Doe. Although right-wing media outlets have hyperventilated for months about the “paramilitary style raids” allegedly used in the investigation, WiCFG director Eric O’Keefe and others that filed the barrage of lawsuits against the investigation never challenged the methods used in executing the search warrants.

Former prosecutors and law enforcement professionals have said that the methods used were not abnormal for investigating white-collar crime.

Yet the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s right-wing justices couldn’t help but repeat inflated claims made by right-wing media outlets. Justice Gableman denounced the “pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.” Justice Annette Ziegler devoted her entire concurrence to opining about the constitutionality of the alleged tactics used in executing search warrants, even though the Court never conducted any factual findings about the matter and never held oral arguments where the issue might have been addressed.

“I was denied the opportunity to appropriately respond to the campaign of misinformation about how and why the investigation was conducted,” Schmitz said in a statement. “All of these search warrants were audio-recorded and it is wrong for the court to accept as true the information alleged by some of the Unnamed Movants and their media outlets.”

In the absence of a genuine factual record, Ziegler and Gableman instead relied on highly-conflicted right-wing news outlets for their “facts.”

Perhaps the most extraordinary example was the Court’s multiple citations to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity’s “Wisconsin Watchdog” website. That outlet has produced 222 stories attacking the John Doe but without routinely disclosing that it was launched and funded by Eric O’Keefe, WiCFG’s director and the chief plaintiff in the lawsuits challenging the probe. Franklin Center’s president Jason Stverak used to work for O’Keefe. Its Director of Special Projects, John Connors, is also president of Citizens for a Strong America, another group involved in the investigation and which is funded entirely by WiCFG.

Additionally, Franklin Center/Wisconsin Watchdog’s funding has come in large part from the Bradley Foundation, which is led by Walker campaign chair Michael Grebe. The Court also cited a sensational National Review article on the John Doe “raids” by David French, the past president of the Foundation on Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which received more than $1.3 million from the Bradley Foundation since 1999.


“First on CNN: Cruz super PAC’s plan to win presidency”

Teddy Scheifer for CNN:

The $38 million super PAC supporting Ted Cruz plans to highlight polarizing issues as part of a full-throttle plan to turn out the white evangelical voters that can power him to victory, a new document reveals.

Keep the Promise, whose strategy is detailed in a 51-slide PowerPoint presentation titled “Can He Win?” recently posted to the organization’s website, mercilessly attacks 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney as unable to elevate “wedge issues,” or divisive social issues that polarize voters, to the forefront of the Republican debate. Calling Romney a “terrible candidate with a terrible campaign,” the slides pillory him as a Republican who managed to squander winnable states just like every other “loser” moderate candidate….

The motivation for posting the plan was unclear. Dathan Voelter, the treasurer of the super PAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

The slides, which say they were authored by a person named Chris Sipes and last edited on Sunday, come days after Cruz’s campaign posted hours of unscored B-roll footage to an old YouTube account. The super PAC, which can’t legally coordinate with the campaign, originally called on Cruz to upload exactly that. Sipes could not immediately be reached for comment.


Rep. King Carries Acorn in Pocket to Remember Taking Group’s “Scalp”

Politico on the Planned Parenthood controversy ends with this note:

While abortion issues can be sensitive for moderate Republicans, the GOP is betting the video will turn off many voters, allowing them to press their case without political blowback.

And conservatives are betting the organization will take a financial hit. King, for example, was one of the first lawmakers to urge the defunding of low-income housing group ACORN, which went belly up following similar undercover videos suggesting criminal activity.

To this day, he keeps a tiny acorn in his pocket to remember his crusade. Now, he’s got his eyes on another organization.

“This represents ACORN’s scalp,” King said off the House floor Thursday, pulling the acorn out of his pocket. “Ask me after the appropriations cycle and see if I have a talisman in my pocket for Planned Parenthood’s.”



“The debate over state polarization and campaign finance laws continues”

Lee Drutman:

One of the fundamental arguments in the “Political Realism” debate is whether or not strong political parties could make government work better. One way to assess party strength is to look at how much money parties can raise and spend.

In this vein, political scientists Ray LaRaja and Brian Schaffner have claimed that removing limits on party funding activity would make politics less polarized. I’ve been skeptical of this claim. In fact, in a short analysis, I found that the opposite is more likely the case—that states with limits on party fundraising appear to beless polarized, though I cautioned against inferring too much from this pattern.

LaRaja and Schaffner have now responded and previewed their forthcoming book, Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail, which will be out this fall from the University of Michigan Press. So, a response to their response is now in order.



“Voting Information Project makes official data available wherever voters look for it – online”


In 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Google realized voters were having trouble finding accurate voting information. Millions of people were looking for answers to three main questions: “Where do I vote?”, “What’s on my ballot?”, and “How do I navigate the election process?” but no standardized, reliable, and official source for this information existed.

Pew partnered with Google and the states to address the issue by creating the Voting Information Project (VIP). Pew works on VIP with state election officials to develop cutting-edge solutions to standardize and publish the data, and Google and other partners have ensured that voters find data where they’re looking for it most — online. The results of this partnership have been dramatic.


“Delaware wins appeal, can enforce law on election advertising”


A federal appeals court said Delaware may enforce a state election law requiring advocacy groups that run political advertising to reveal their donors.

Thursday’s 3-0 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia reversed a lower court ruling that had favored Delaware Strong Families, a conservative-leaning group that publishes “voter guides” ahead of elections.

The group objected to a 2013 state law requiring third-party advertisers to reveal their donors’ identities if they spend more than $500 in an election cycle on ads that refer to specific candidates, even if they do not recommend how to vote.

You can read the Third Circuit’s opinion here.


“Depositions show Florida GOP push for favorable Senate lines; Consultants drew maps, recruited advocates for public hearings


On Nov. 29, the same day Krames sent out the updated list, he also sent an email to Wiggins, a state G.O.P. staffer, to keep him updated on the covert public relations campaign to push the maps they supported.

“Andrew, for your reference here are the goals we have set for this portion of the campaign,” he wrote.

The goals included distributing “all comment in support of proposed maps” by Dec. 5, 2011 and making a minimum of 100 emails, and 50 phone calls to lawmakers and the creation of 10 YouTube videos, according to emails.

Months before the push to support the already-submitted maps, Jones, the leader of the Alachua County G.O.P., drew up talking points and “roles” people were to play at a July 2011 redistricting public hearing held in Gainesville.

As they prepared to redraw the state political lines, lawmakers on redistricting committees held 26 public hearings across the state to seek input on how the lines should change. They used the meetings to tout the 2012 redistricting process as the most transparent in state history.

The day of the July 13 hearing, Jones sent him a set of talking points that indicated he was supposed to play the role of someone confused by Fair District amendments.

“Dick, why do I have to be the confused guy?” Patton jokingly responded in July 2011.



Statement from Prosecutor in John Doe Case: Facts of Raids are Disputed, Case Will Hurt Wisconsin Voters

Here’s the statement:

From: Francis Schmitz
Date: Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 1:17 PM
Subject: Statement regarding Wisconsin Supreme court ruling

I am disappointed with today’s ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court and respectfully disagree with the conclusions drawn by the majority which end the investigation. The decision represents a loss for all of the citizens of Wisconsin — independents, Democrats and Republicans alike.  It defies common sense that a Wisconsin resident of average means who gives $25 to a campaign has his or her name publicly reported under the law but, according to this decision, someone who gives, for example, $100,000 to a group which closely coordinates with the same campaign can remain anonymous.   The United States Supreme Court has fittingly characterized such donations as “disguised contributions” to the candidate.   As stated in Wisconsin Statute 11.001, “[w]hen the true source of support or extent of support is not fully disclosed, or when a candidate becomes overly dependent upon large private contributors, the democratic process is subjected to a potential corrupting influence.”


Particular justices assert as fact many allegations that I specifically denied in my response materials.  There has been no fact-finding hearing conducted at any level establishing, for example, that search warrants were executed unprofessionally or that persons were denied an opportunity to contact their attorneys.  All of these search warrants were audio-recorded and it is wrong for the court to accept as true the information alleged by some of the Unnamed Movants and their media outlets.


It is also unfortunate that the citizens of Wisconsin will not have the benefit of a public discussion of the facts and the law because the court decided not to allow oral argument.    Consequently, I was denied the opportunity to appropriately respond to the campaign of misinformation about how and why the investigation was conducted.