2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
June 10, 2015 - Introduced by Representatives Hebl,
Kolste, Kahl, Mason,
Sargent, Berceau, Goyke, Pope, Doyle, Ohnstad, Hintz, Wachs, C. Taylor,
Milroy, Hesselbein, Subeck, Kessler, Spreitzer, Billings, Brostoff,
Jorgensen, Bowen, Sinicki, Considine, Young, Johnson, Genrich and
Zepnick, cosponsored by Senators Miller,
Wirch, Carpenter, Vinehout,
Hansen, Harris Dodd, Bewley, Risser, Lassa and C. Larson. Referred to
Committee on Campaigns and Elections.
1An Act to amend
11.12 (2), 11.16 (2), 11.16 (3), 11.26 (1) (a), 11.26 (2) (a), 11.26 2
(9), 11.31 (1) (d), 11.60 (4) and 11.61 (2); and to create
8.35 (4) (b), 11.26 (1) (am), 3
11.26 (2) (am), 11.26 (13), 11.501 to 11.522, 20.511 (1) (r), 20.585 (1) (q), 20.585 4
(1) (r), 20.855 (4) (ba), 20.855 (4) (bb), 25.17 (1) (cm), 25.421 and 71.10 (3) of the 5
statutes; relating to: public financing of campaigns for the office of justice of
6the supreme court, making appropriations, and providing penalties.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill creates a democracy trust fund under which eligible candidates for the
office of justice of the supreme court may receive public grants derived from general
purpose revenues to finance their campaigns.
Under the bill, a candidate for the office of justice of the supreme court may
qualify for public financing from the democracy trust fund to finance a campaign in
a primary or election by receiving qualifying contributions from at least 1,000
separate contributors who are electors of this state in amounts of not less than $5 nor
more than $100 in an aggregate amount of at least $5,000 but not more than $15,000.
A candidate who accepts public financing may also accept "seed money"
contributions from electors of this state in amounts of $100 or less, subject to
aggregate limitations, and may contribute personal funds in specified amounts
during specified periods. In order to qualify for a public financing benefit for the
primary, a candidate at the spring primary must have an opponent who qualifies to
have his or her name appear on the ballot at the primary, and in order to qualify for
a public financing benefit for the spring election, a candidate at the election must
have an opponent who qualifies to have his or her name appear on the ballot at the
election. A candidate who accepts a public financing benefit may not accept any
contributions other than qualifying and seed money contributions and contributions
from personal funds within the limitations permitted. Public financing benefits for
eligible candidates are $100,000 in the spring primary and $300,000 in the spring
election. The benefits are subject to a biennial cost of living adjustment.
The bill imposes a limitation on disbursements (expenditures) by a candidate
who accepts a public financing benefit that equals the total public financing benefit
allocated to the candidate and the total qualifying and seed money contributions
lawfully accepted by the candidate. The bill provides that if a candidate makes
disbursements that exceed the total permitted under the bill, the candidate is subject
to a forfeiture (civil penalty) of not more than ten times the amount by which his or
her disbursements exceed the allocation. In addition, the bill provides that a
candidate who accepts contributions in excess of any limitation imposed under the
bill is subject to a forfeiture of not more than ten times the amount by which the
contributions exceed the applicable limitation. The bill also provides that if any
candidate or agent of a candidate knowingly accepts more contributions than the
candidate is entitled to receive, or makes disbursements exceeding the total amount
of the public financing benefit received by the candidate and the qualifying and seed
money contributions lawfully received by the candidate, the candidate or agent may
be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both.
Under the bill, any person who, in connection with the receipt or disbursement of a
public financing benefit, knowingly provides false information to the Government
Accountability Board, or knowingly conceals or withholds information from the
board, is subject to the same penalty.
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.