2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
December 22, 2015 - Introduced by Representatives Berceau, Sargent, Spreitzer,
Genrich, Stuck, Wachs, Kolste, Brostoff, Sinicki, Goyke, C. Taylor,
Ohnstad, Considine, Billings, Kessler, Jorgensen, Zamarripa, Barca and
Shankland, cosponsored by Senators Ringhand,
C. Larson, Lassa, Vinehout
and Erpenbach. Referred to Committee on Campaigns and Elections.
1An Act to repeal
11.20 (10) (c), 11.26 (4), 11.26 (9), 11.31 and 11.38 (1) (a) 3.; to
2renumber and amend
11.01 (16) (intro.), 11.05 (12) (b), 11.07 (1), 11.26 (2) (a) 3
and 11.26 (13m) (b); to consolidate, renumber and amend
11.26 (13m) 4
(intro.) and (a); to amend
11.01 (2), 11.01 (5), 11.01 (16) (a) (intro.), 11.01 (16) 5
(a) 1., 11.055 (3), 11.06 (1) (intro.), 11.06 (2), 11.07 (2), 11.07 (3), 11.12 (6), 11.19 6
(1), 11.20 (4), 11.20 (8) (b), 11.20 (10) (a), 11.21 (2), 11.21 (16), 11.22 (3), 11.26 7
(5), 11.26 (6), 11.26 (17) (a), 11.30 (2) (b), 11.30 (2) (c), 11.30 (2) (d), 11.38 (1) (a) 8
1., 11.38 (1) (a) 2., 11.61 (1) (b) and 11.61 (1) (c); and to create
11.01 (7m), 11.01 9
(12v), 11.01 (12w), 11.01 (13), 11.01 (14), 11.01 (16) (a) 4., 11.01 (16) (a) 5., 11.05 10
(3) (s), 11.06 (1) (n), 11.06 (2m), 11.07 (1) (a) (intro.), 11.12 (7), 11.26 (2) (a) 1., 11
11.26 (2) (a) 4., 11.26 (4m), 11.30 (2) (cm), 11.385 and 11.386 of the statutes; 12relating to: campaign finance reporting by social welfare organizations;
13individual contribution limits to political parties and committees; political
14disbursements and obligations by corporations, cooperative associations; and
1labor organizations and the scope of regulated activity and reporting of certain
2activity under the campaign finance law.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes various changes to the campaign finance laws, including all of
1. The bill requires a nonprofit social welfare organization that is engaged in
acts for political purposes to register with the Government Accountability Board
(GAB). The bill also requires the organization to report to the GAB the percentage
of its total expenditures that are paid as disbursements for the purpose of influencing
the election or nomination for election of any individual to state or local office or for
the purpose of influencing the recall from or retention in office of an individual
holding a state or local office. In addition, if the total amount of the entity's
disbursements for political purposes exceeds $5,000 in a calendar year, the entity
shall include in its report an itemized statement of every disbursement exceeding
$300, together with the name and address of the person to whom the disbursement
was made, and the date and specific purpose for which the disbursement was made.
2. This bill prohibits an individual from making contributions in excess of
$10,000 in any calendar year to a committee that makes electioneering
communications or expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified
candidate. The bill also prohibits an individual from making contributions in excess
of $10,000 in any calendar year to a political party.
3. Under current law, individuals who accept contributions, organizations that
make or accept contributions, and individuals who or organizations that incur
obligations or make disbursements for the purpose of influencing an election for state
or local office are generally required to register with the appropriate filing officer and
to file financial reports with that officer, regardless of whether they act in conjunction
with or independently of any candidate who is supported or opposed.
With certain exceptions, this bill imposes additional registration and reporting
requirements on any committee who, within 60 days of an election, makes any mass
communication, including an electronic communication, a mass distribution, or a
mass telephoning, that includes a reference to a clearly identified candidate at that
election. In addition, the bill requires a committee who becomes subject to a
registration requirement by making such a communication to report, upon
registration, the information that would have been required to be reported if the
committee had been registered with respect to any obligation incurred or
disbursement made for the purpose of making such a communication prior to
registration. The bill, however, does not require registration and reporting if the
communication is made by a corporation, cooperative, or nonpolitical voluntary
association and is limited to the corporation's, cooperative's, or association's
members, shareholders, or subscribers.
The change in the scope of reportable activity under the bill also applies to
contribution and disbursement (spending) limitations and restrictions by causing
reportable "contributions," "obligations," and "disbursements" to include the cost of
all reportable communications.
4. The bill also requires a special report by any campaign finance registrant
who makes or incurs an obligation to make a mass communication that becomes
reportable under the bill within 60 days of a primary or other election in an amount
greater than $300 cumulatively since the date of the registrant's last report. The
special report must be made within 24 hours after the date that disbursements or
obligations that exceed $300 cumulatively are made or incurred and must include
the information that would otherwise be reported on the registrant's next regular
report in the form prescribed by the GAB.
5. Under the bill, no entity or individual may make a disbursement for express
advocacy or for an electioneering communication that is coordinated with a
candidate, personal campaign committee, candidate's agent, legislative campaign
committee, or political party committee. Such activity is coordinated with a
candidate or committee if the candidate or committee exercises control over, or
engages in substantial discussions or negotiations with the person making the
disbursement regarding, the content, timing, location, form, intended audience, or
frequency of the activity.
6. Under the bill, an electioneering communication is a communication that
refers to a clearly identified candidate who will appear on the ballot for election or
nomination for election, is made within 60 days from the day on which the primary
or election involving the candidate is held, and is targeted to the relevant electorate.
Any committee making a disbursement of $300 or more on an electioneering
communication must, within 48 hours of making the disbursement, submit
statements to GAB disclosing, among other things, the name of any candidate
affected by the disbursement, the office that the candidate seeks, and whether the
electioneering communication supports or opposes that candidate. The statements
must also provide the name of every person who donated $300 or more to the
committee and whether the committee coordinated or consulted with, or received the
consent of the candidate or candidate's agent, regarding the disbursement.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
11.01 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
"Charitable organization" means any organization described in 3
(c) (2) of the internal revenue code, and also includes the United States, 4
any state, territory or possession, the District of Columbia and any political 5
subdivision thereof, when a gift is made exclusively for public purposes
; but and not
6for the purpose of influencing public opinion or an election outcome. "Charitable
does not include any private organization conducting activities for 2
11.01 (5) of the statutes is amended to read:
"Communications media" means newspapers, periodicals, 5
and radio and television stations, including community 6
antenna television stations, and Internet sites maintained by the newspapers,
7periodicals, commercial billboards, and radio and television stations
11.01 (7m) of the statutes is created to read:
"Electioneering communication" means any communication, 10
except as provided in par. (b), for which all of the following apply:
1. It refers to a clearly identified candidate who will appear on the ballot for 12
election or nomination for election.
2. It is made within the 60 days preceding the day on which the primary or 14
election involving the candidate under subd. 1. is held, including the day of the 15
primary or election.
3. It is targeted to the relevant electorate.
(b) "Electioneering communication" does not include any of the following:
1. A communication, other than an advertisement, appearing in a news story, 19
commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any legitimate news 20
organization, unless the facilities are controlled by any political party, political 21
committee, or candidate.
2. A communication made solely to promote a candidate debate or forum that 23
is made by or on behalf of a person sponsoring the debate or forum.
3. A communication made exclusively between an organization and its 25
11.01 (12v) of the statutes is created to read:
"Mass communication" means a message that is disseminated by 3
means of one or more communications media, a mass electronic communication, a 4
mass distribution, or a mass telephoning, but not including a bona fide poll 5
conducted for the purpose of objectively identifying or collecting data concerning the 6
attitudes or preferences of electors.
11.01 (12w) of the statutes is created to read:
"Mass distribution" means the distribution of 500 or more pieces 9
of substantially identical material.
11.01 (13) of the statutes is created to read:
"Mass electronic communication" means the transmission of 500 or 12
more pieces of substantially identical material by means of electronic mail, facsimile 13
transmission, or social media.
11.01 (14) of the statutes is created to read:
"Mass telephoning" means the making of 500 or more telephone calls 16
conveying a substantially identical message.
11.01 (16) (intro.) of the statutes is renumbered 11.01 (16) (a) 3. and 18
amended to read:
(a) 3. An In the case of a candidate, a legislative campaign
20committee, a personal campaign committee, a support committee, other than a
21support committee that files a statement under s. 11.06 (7), or a political party, an 22
act is made
when it is done for the purpose of 23
influencing the election or nomination for election of any individual to state or local 24
office, for the purpose of influencing the recall from or retention in office of an 25
individual holding a state or local office, for the purpose of payment of expenses
incurred as a result of a recount at an election, or for the purpose of influencing a 2
particular vote at a referendum. In the case of a candidate, or a committee or group
3which is organized primarily for the purpose of influencing the election or
4nomination for election of any individual to state or local office, for the purpose of
5influencing the recall from or retention in office of an individual holding a state or
6local office, or for the purpose of influencing a particular vote at a referendum, all All 7
administrative and overhead expenses for the maintenance of an office or staff which 8
are used principally for any such
purpose under this subdivision
are deemed to be 9
for a political purpose.
11.01 (16) (a) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) (intro.) Acts which are
An act made
12include but are not limited to purpose" includes any of the following
11.01 (16) (a) 1. of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) 1. The making of a communication which in reference to a clearly
15identified candidate that
expressly advocates the election, defeat, recall,
or retention 16
of a clearly identified that
candidate or a particular vote at a referendum and that
17clearly relates to that candidate's campaign
11.01 (16) (a) 4. of the statutes is created to read:
(a) 4. A mass communication, other than a communication that is 20
exempt from reporting under s. 11.29, that is made during the period beginning on 21
the 60th day preceding an election and ending on the date of that election, and that 22
includes a reference to a clearly identified candidate whose name is certified under 23
s. 7.08 (2) (a) or 8.50 (1) (d) to appear on the ballot at that election.
11.01 (16) (a) 5. of the statutes is created to read:
(a) 5. Any mass communication, other than a communication that 2
is exempt from reporting under s. 11.29, that a reasonable person would consider as 3
advocating for or against a particular candidate, nominee, or referendum.
11.05 (3) (s) of the statutes is created to read: