Groups in Wisconsin that track election spending want the state to join a nationwide effort to overturn Citizens United v FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court case that allows unlimited campaign spending by corporations.
The first presidential election cycle since Citizens United resulted in a record amount of campaign spending, driven largely by outside special interest money. In Wisconsin, outside spending for federal House and Senate races was $32 million above and beyond what was spent by the candidates. The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group is out with a report on the impact of big money in the 2012 elections. WISPIRG's Joe Rasmussen says it includes super-PACs, unions and wealthy individuals. “And 99.2 percent of that money came from groups registered outside the state of Wisconsin, groups like Majority PAC and American Crossroads. The organizations that Harry Reid and Karl Rove set up to have national influence on elections and allow donors from across the country to influence our races here in Wisconsin.”
It's also happening in state-level races. Two thirds of the money spent in Governor Walker's recall election came from other parts of the country. And most of the spending in legislative recall races was from outside Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign tallied up $76 million in outside spending on the 15 recall races. Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe says over half that couldn't be traced to the original donors. “We could not find the source of income. That was truly 'dark' money. ”
The groups are calling for more transparency of campaign donations. They also want state lawmakers to to allow an advisory statewide vote on overturning Citizens United.