Federal Judge Wrong to Upend Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law

August 8, 2014

A May decision halting an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign went against 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and must be overturned, according to an amicus brief filed in federal court today by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Judge Rudolph T. Randa’s decision stopped a nearly two-year investigation into whether Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated campaign ads with outside groups during the 2012 recall election. In his ruling, Randa acknowledged the groups had found a way around campaign finance regulations, but said such “circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead it should be recognized as promoting political speech.”

“Regardless of whether the Walker investigation was a good idea, Judge Randa’s decision was wrong on the law,” said Daniel I. Weiner, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “His legal reasoning would eviscerate contribution limits and disclosure requirements, allowing wealthy donors to place millions of dollars directly at candidates’ disposal, much of which would go undisclosed. The court must reject this ruling and adhere to longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

The Brennan Center filed the brief in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with a team of pro bono counsel led by Center Board Member Daniel F. Kolb.

See more on Judge Randa’s decision and the Brennan Center’s money in politics work.

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