Currently, no public financing is available to finance the campaigns of
candidates for the office of justice of the supreme court.
Currently, individuals and committees making political contributions to
candidates for the office of justice of the supreme court are subject to limitations on
the amount or value of any contribution or contributions that may be made
cumulatively to any candidate in a campaign. The limitations are $10,000 in the case
of an individual making a contribution to a candidate and $8,625 in the case of a
committee making a contribution to a candidate. This bill replaces these limitations
with a contribution limitation of $1,000 applicable to an individual or committee
making any contribution or contributions cumulatively during a campaign period to
any candidate for the office of justice of the supreme court who is eligible to qualify
for a public financing benefit but who declines to accept one.
Under the bill, public financing benefits are financed through an individual
income tax "checkoff." Every individual filing a state income tax return who has a
tax liability or is entitled to a tax refund may direct that $2 of general purpose
revenue be transferred to the democracy trust fund. Individuals filing a joint return
may separately choose whether to direct that the $2 transfer be made. The
designation does not increase an individual's tax liability nor reduce an individual's
refund. If the total designations do not generate sufficient general purpose revenues
to fully fund the costs of public grants and administration of the democracy trust
fund, the bill appropriates additional general purpose revenues to finance those
Because this bill creates a new crime or revises a penalty for an existing crime,
the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties may be requested to prepare a
report concerning the proposed penalty and the costs or savings that are likely to
result if the bill is enacted.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
8.35 (4) (b) of the statutes is created to read:
(b) Notwithstanding par. (a), any unspent and unencumbered moneys 3
received by a candidate from the democracy trust fund shall be immediately 4
transferred to any candidate who is appointed to replace that candidate upon filing 5
of a proper application under s. 11.502 (1). For qualification purposes, contributions 6
received and disbursements made by the former candidate are considered to have 7
been received or made by the replacement candidate. If there is no candidate 8
appointed or if no proper application is filed within 7 days of the date on which a 9
vacancy occurs, the moneys revert to the state.
11.12 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
11.12 (2) No registrant, other than a candidate who receives a public financing
12benefit from the democracy trust fund, may accept an anonymous contribution
13exceeding $10. No candidate who receives a public financing benefit from the
14democracy trust fund may accept an anonymous contribution exceeding $5.
anonymous contribution exceeding $10
received by a campaign or committee 16
treasurer or by an individual under s. 11.06 (7) that may not be accepted under this
may not be used or expended. The contribution shall be donated to the
common school fund or to any charitable organization at the option of the registrant's 2
11.16 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
11.16 (2) Limitation on cash contributions. Every Except as provided in s.
511.506 (6), every
contribution of money exceeding $50 shall be made by negotiable 6
instrument or evidenced by an itemized credit card receipt bearing on the face the 7
name of the remitter. No treasurer may accept a contribution made in violation of 8
this subsection. The treasurer shall promptly return the contribution, or donate it 9
to the common school fund or to a charitable organization in the event that the donor 10
cannot be identified.
11.16 (3) of the statutes is amended to read:
11.16 (3) Form of disbursements.
Every Except as authorized under s. 11.511
disbursement which is made by a registered individual or treasurer from 14
the campaign depository account shall be made by negotiable instrument. Such 15
instrument shall bear on the face the full name of the candidate, committee, 16
individual or group as it appears on the registration statement filed under s. 11.05 17
and where necessary, such additional words as are sufficient to clearly indicate the 18
political nature of the registrant or account of the registrant. The name of a political 19
party shall include the word "party". The instrument of each committee registered 20
with the board and designated under s. 11.05 (3) (c) as a special interest committee 21
shall bear the identification number assigned under s. 11.21 (12) on the face of the 22
11.26 (1) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, 25
state treasurer, attorney general, or
state superintendent, or justice
11.26 (1) (am) of the statutes is created to read:
(am) Candidates for justice, $1,000.
11.26 (2) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, 5
state treasurer, attorney general, or
state superintendent, or justice
, 4 percent of the 6
value of the disbursement level specified in the schedule under s. 11.31 (1).
11.26 (2) (am) of the statutes is created to read:
(am) Candidates for justice, $1,000.
11.26 (9) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) No individual who is a candidate for state or local office may receive 11
and accept more than 65 percent of the value of the total disbursement level 12
determined under s. 11.31 or 11.511 (7)
for the office for which he or she is a candidate 13
during any primary and election campaign combined from all committees subject to 14
a filing requirement, including political party and legislative campaign committees, 15
including any transfer from any personal campaign committee to another personal 16
(b) No individual who is a candidate for state or local office may receive and 18
accept more than 45 percent of the value of the total disbursement level determined 19
under s. 11.31 or 11.511 (7)
for the office for which he or she is a candidate during any 20
primary and election campaign combined from all committees other than political 21
party and legislative campaign committees subject to a filing requirement, not 22
including any transfer from any personal campaign committee to another personal 23
11.26 (13) of the statutes is created to read:
Public financing benefits received from the democracy trust fund are 2
not subject to limitation by this section.
11.31 (1) (d) of the statutes is amended to read:
(d) Candidates for secretary of state, state treasurer, state 5
superintendent, or justice,
11.501 to 11.522 of the statutes are created to read:
In ss. 11.501 to 11.522:
"Allowable contribution" means a qualifying contribution, seed money 9
contribution, or personal contribution authorized under ss. 11.502 to 11.522.
"Campaign" has the meaning given in s. 11.26 (17).
"Election campaign period" means the period beginning on the day after the 12
spring primary election or the day on which a primary election would be held, if 13
required, and ending on the day of the succeeding spring election.
"Eligible candidate" means a candidate for the office of justice who has an 15
opponent, who has qualified to have his or her name certified for placement on the 16
ballot at the spring primary or election, and who qualifies for a public financing 17
benefit by collecting the required number of qualifying contributions, making all 18
required reports and disclosures, and being certified by the board as being in 19
compliance with ss. 11.502 to 11.522.
"Excess disbursement amount" means the amount of disbursements made 21
by a nonparticipating candidate in excess of the public financing benefit available to 22
an eligible candidate for the same office that the nonparticipating candidate seeks.
"Excess qualifying contribution amount" means the amount of qualifying 24
contributions accepted by a candidate beyond the number or dollar amount of 25
contributions required to qualify a candidate for a public financing benefit.
"Exploratory period" means the period that begins after the date of a spring 2
election immediately preceding a public financing qualifying period and ends on the 3
first day of the public financing qualifying period for the next election for justice.
"Immediate family," when used with reference to a candidate, includes the 5
candidate's spouse and children.
"Independent disbursement" means a disbursement by a person expressly 7
advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate which is made 8
without cooperation or consultation with a candidate, or any authorized committee 9
or agent of a candidate, and which is not made in concert with, or at the request or 10
suggestion of, any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of a candidate.
"Nonparticipating candidate" means a candidate for the office of justice 12
who does not apply for a public financing benefit or who is otherwise ineligible or fails 13
to qualify for a public financing benefit under ss. 11.502 to 11.522.
"Personal funds" means funds contributed by a candidate or a member of 15
a candidate's immediate family.
"Primary election campaign period" means the period beginning on the 17
day after the last day prescribed by law for filing nomination papers for the office of 18
justice and ending on the day of the spring primary election for that office or the day 19
on which the primary election would be held, if required.
"Public financing benefit" means a benefit provided to an eligible 21
candidate under ss. 11.502 to 11.522.
"Public financing qualifying period" means, for each election for the office 23
of justice, the period beginning on the first day of July of the year immediately 24
preceding the year of that election and ending on the day before the beginning of the 25
primary election campaign period for that office.
"Qualifying contribution" means a contribution in an amount of not less 2
than $5 nor more than $100 made to a candidate by an elector of this state during 3
the public financing qualifying period, which is acknowledged by written receipt 4
identifying the contributor.
"Seed money contribution" means a contribution in an amount of not more 6
than $100 made to a candidate by an elector of this state during the exploratory 7
period or the public financing qualifying period, or a contribution made to a 8
candidate consisting of personal funds of that candidate in an amount not more than 9
the amount authorized under s. 11.507 during the exploratory period or the public 10
financing qualifying period.
1111.502 Qualification; certification.
Before a candidate for justice in the 12
primary election may be certified as an eligible candidate to receive a public 13
financing benefit for the primary election campaign period, the candidate shall apply 14
to the board for a public financing benefit and file a sworn statement that the 15
candidate has complied and will comply with all requirements of this section and ss. 16
11.503 to 11.522 throughout the applicable campaign, which includes the primary 17
and election for that office. A candidate shall file the application and statement no 18
later than the beginning of the primary election campaign period for the office that 19
the candidate seeks.
A candidate shall be certified by the board as an eligible candidate for 21
receipt of a public financing benefit for a primary election if the candidate complies 22
with sub. (1) and receives qualifying contributions from at least 1,000 separate 23
contributors in an aggregate amount of not less than $5,000 nor more than $15,000 24
before the close of the public financing qualifying period.
The board shall verify a candidate's compliance with the requirements of 2
sub. (2) by such verification and sampling techniques as the board considers 3
Each candidate shall:
(a) Acknowledge each qualifying contribution by a receipt to the contributor 6
which contains the contributor's name and home address.
(b) No later than the 15th or the last day of the month which immediately 8
follows the date of receipt of a qualifying contribution, whichever comes first, file a 9
copy of the receipt under par. (a) with the board, except that during July, August, and 10
September a copy need only be filed by the last day of the month.
A qualifying contribution may be used only for the purpose of making a 12
disbursement authorized by law.
1311.503 Time of application. (1)
Before a candidate may be certified as 14
eligible for receipt of a public financing benefit for the spring election, the candidate 15
shall apply to the board and file a sworn statement that the candidate has fulfilled 16
all the requirements of ss. 11.502 to 11.522 during the primary election campaign 17
period and will comply with such requirements during the election campaign period. 18
Except as authorized in s. 8.35 (4) (b), the application shall be filed no later than the 19
7th day after the date of the spring primary or the date that the primary election 20
would be held if a primary were required.
The board shall certify a candidate as an eligible candidate for receipt of a 22
public financing benefit for the spring election if the candidate complies with sub. (1) 23
and the candidate was an eligible candidate during the primary election campaign 24
111.505 Agreement by candidate.
An eligible candidate who accepts a public 2
financing benefit under ss. 11.502 to 11.522 during the primary election campaign 3
period shall agree to comply with all requirements of ss. 11.502 to 11.522 throughout 4
the election campaign period during the same campaign as a precondition to receipt 5
of a public financing benefit. An eligible candidate who accepts a public financing 6
benefit during a primary election campaign period may not elect to accept private 7
contributions in violation of ss. 11.502 to 11.522 during the corresponding election 8
911.506 Requirements imposed upon candidates. (1)
An eligible 10
candidate shall not accept private contributions other than seed money 11
contributions and qualifying contributions that the candidate accepts during the 12
exploratory period and the public financing qualifying period.
In addition to reports required to be filed under ss. 11.12 (5) and 11.20, a 14
candidate who receives a public financing benefit shall furnish complete financial 15
records, including records of seed money contributions, qualifying contributions, and 16
disbursements, to the board on the 15th or the last day of the month that 17
immediately follows the receipt of the contribution or the making of the 18
disbursement, whichever comes first, except that during July, August, and 19
September records need only be furnished by the last day of the month. Each such 20
candidate shall cooperate with any audit or examination by the board.
In addition to adhering to requirements imposed under ss. 11.06 (5) and 22
11.12 (3), a candidate who receives a public financing benefit shall maintain records 23
of all contributions received by the candidate of more than $5 but less than $50, 24
including seed money contributions and qualifying contributions, which shall 25
contain the full name of the contributor and the contributor's full home address. In
addition, if a contributor's aggregate contributions to any candidate exceed $50 for 2
any campaign, the candidate shall also maintain a record of the contributor's 3
principal occupation and the name and business address of the contributor's place 4
The failure to record or provide the information specified in sub. (3) 6
disqualifies a contribution from being used by a candidate as a qualifying 7
No eligible candidate and no person acting on a candidate's behalf may 9
deposit any contribution that is not recorded in accordance with sub. (3) in a 10
candidate's campaign depository account.
No eligible candidate may accept more than $25 in cash from any 12
contributor. No eligible candidate may accept cash from all sources in a total amount 13
greater than one-tenth of 1 percent of the public financing benefit for the office that 14
the candidate seeks or $500, whichever is greater.
1511.507 Personal funds of candidates.
The personal funds of a candidate 16
contributed as seed money contributions may not exceed an aggregate amount of 17
No eligible candidate may make any disbursement derived from personal 19
funds after the close of the public financing qualifying period.
2011.508 Seed money contributions. (1)
An eligible candidate may accept 21
seed money contributions from any individual or committee prior to the end of the 22
public financing qualifying period, provided the total contributions received from one 23
contributor, except personal funds and qualifying contributions otherwise permitted 24
under ss. 11.502 to 11.522, do not exceed $100, and the aggregate contributions,
including personal funds, but not including qualifying contributions, do not exceed 2
An eligible candidate may make disbursements derived from seed money 4
contributions only during the exploratory period and the public financing qualifying 5
611.509 Excess contributions.
If an eligible candidate receives and accepts 7
excess seed money contributions or qualifying contributions in an aggregate amount 8
greater than the limits prescribed in s. 11.502 (2) or 11.508 (1), the candidate shall 9
transfer to the board all seed money and qualifying contributions that exceed the 10
limits prescribed in this section within 48 hours after the end of the public financing 11
qualifying period. The board shall deposit all contributions transferred under this 12
section in the democracy trust fund.
1311.51 Certification by candidate. (1)
To apply for a public financing benefit, 14
a candidate shall certify to the board that the candidate has complied and will 15
comply, throughout the applicable campaign, with all requirements of ss. 11.502 to 16
11.522 and that all disclosures required as of the time of application have been made, 17
and shall present evidence of the requisite number of qualifying contributions 18
received by the candidate. The candidate's request for certification shall be signed 19
by the candidate and the candidate's campaign treasurer.
The board shall certify to the state treasurer the name of each eligible 21
candidate at the spring primary together with the amount of the public financing 22
benefit payable to the candidate promptly after the candidate demonstrates his or 23
her eligibility and, in any event, not later than 5 days after the end of the public 24
financing qualifying period. The state treasurer shall immediately credit that 25
candidate's account with a line of credit for the amount certified. No candidate may
utilize a line of credit received under this subsection until the beginning of the 2
primary election campaign period.
The board shall certify to the state treasurer the name of each eligible 4
candidate at the spring election together with the amount of the public financing 5
benefit payable to the candidate not later than 48 hours after the date of the spring 6
primary election for the office of justice, or the date that the primary election would 7
be held if a primary were required. The state treasurer shall immediately credit that 8
candidate's account with a line of credit for the amount certified. However, no 9
candidate for a particular office shall receive a line of credit until all candidates for 10
the office of justice who apply and qualify for a public financing benefit have been 11
certified as eligible candidates.
If any candidate who receives a public financing benefit violates the 13
requirements of ss. 11.502 to 11.522, the board shall require the candidate to repay 14
the amount obligated by the candidate from the democracy trust fund for the primary 15
or election campaign period for which the candidate received the benefit. The board 16
shall deposit all repayments received under this subsection in the democracy trust 17
1811.511 Public financing benefits. (1)
The state treasurer shall provide to 19
each eligible candidate who qualifies to receive a public financing benefit for the 20
primary or election campaign period separate lines of credit for the public financing 21
benefits payable to the candidate for the primary and election campaign periods in 22
the amounts specified in this section. An eligible candidate may use this public 23
financing benefit to finance any lawful disbursements during the primary and 24
election campaign periods to further the election of the candidate in that primary or
election. An eligible candidate shall not use this public financing benefit to repay any 2
loan, or in violation of ss. 11.502 to 11.522 or any other applicable law.
The public financing benefit for a primary election campaign period is 4
The public financing benefit for an election campaign period is $300,000.
If there is no spring primary for the office of justice, no eligible candidate 7
may receive a public financing benefit for the primary election campaign period.
An eligible candidate who receives a public financing benefit in the 9
primary election campaign period and whose name is certified to appear on the ballot 10
at the election following that primary may utilize any unencumbered balance of the 11
public financing benefit received by the candidate in the primary election campaign 12
period for the election campaign period.
Except as permitted in sub. (5g), an eligible candidate who receives a 14
public financing benefit and who does not encumber or expend some portion of the 15
benefit for a purpose described in sub. (1) shall return any unencumbered portion of 16
the benefit to the board within 30 days after the primary or election in which the 17
Notwithstanding subs. (2) and (3), beginning on July 1, 2018, and every 2 19
years thereafter, the board shall modify the public financing benefits provided for in 20
subs. (2) and (3) to adjust for the change in the consumer price index, all items, U.S. 21
city average, published by the U.S. department of labor for the preceding 2-year 22
period ending on December 31.
No candidate for the office of justice who files an application for a public 24
financing benefit and certification under s. 11.51 (1) and who accepts a public 25
financing benefit may make or authorize total disbursements in a campaign,
beginning with the first day of the exploratory period and ending on the date of the 2
spring election, to the extent of more than the maximum amounts specified in ss. 3
11.502 (2) and 11.508 (1), plus the amount specified in s. 11.511 (3), as adjusted under 4
s. 11.511 (6), and, if there is a primary for the office of justice, the amount specified 5
in s. 11.511 (2), as adjusted under s. 11.511 (6).
611.515 Democracy trust fund.
The democracy trust fund shall be 7
administered by the state treasurer. The state treasurer shall establish an account 8
within the fund for each eligible candidate.
Except as otherwise specifically provided in ss. 10
11.501 to 11.522, the duties of and authority for administering and enforcing ss. 11
11.501 to 11.522 are vested in the board.
1211.517 Penalties; enforcement. (1)
Notwithstanding s. 11.60 (1), if an 13
eligible candidate makes disbursements that exceed the total amount of the public 14
financing benefit allocated to the candidate for any campaign and the total 15
qualifying and seed money contributions lawfully accepted by the candidate, the 16
candidate may be required to forfeit not more than 10 times the amount by which the 17
disbursements exceed the allocation.
Notwithstanding s. 11.60 (1), any eligible candidate who accepts 19
contributions in excess of any limitation imposed under ss. 11.502 to 11.522 may be 20
required to forfeit not more than 10 times the amount by which the contributions 21
exceed the applicable limitation.
If the board finds that there is probable cause to believe that an eligible 23
candidate has made excess disbursements or has accepted excess contributions 24
contrary to sub. (1) or (2), the board shall attempt for a period of not more than 14 25
days after its finding to correct the matter by informal methods of conference and
conciliation and to enter into a settlement and conciliation agreement under s. 5.05 2
(1) (c) with the person involved. A settlement and conciliation agreement made 3
pursuant to this subsection shall be a matter of public record. Unless violated, a 4
settlement and conciliation agreement is a bar to any civil action under sub. (4).
If the board has probable cause to believe that an eligible candidate has 6
made excess disbursements or has accepted excess contributions and the board is 7
unable to correct the matter by informal methods within the time prescribed in sub. 8
(3), the board shall make a public finding of probable cause in the matter. After 9
making a public finding, the board may bring a civil action against the eligible 10
candidate as provided in s. 5.05 (1) (c).
If an elector believes that an eligible candidate has violated ss. 11.502 to 12
11.522 and the elector is entitled to vote for or against the eligible candidate in the 13
election in connection with which the violation is alleged to occur, the elector may file 14
a complaint with the board requesting it to take remedial action. If the board refuses 15
to take remedial action or, within 30 days after the filing of such a complaint, fails 16
to take remedial action, the elector may commence a civil action requesting the court 17
to impose a forfeiture under sub. (1) or (2) in circuit court for the county where the 18
board is authorized to bring an action under s. 5.05 (1) (c).
The board and courts shall expedite all proceedings under ss. 11.502 to 20
11.522 so that all complaints brought prior to an election are resolved, to the extent 21
possible, before the election is held.