MADISON -- Some controversial new bills up for debate and possible vote in Madison as early as Tuesday, October 20th could change the way elections, political contributions and investigations into political corruption are handled. Democrats say Republicans are rushing these bills into law to benefit their campaigns. But Republicans say these reforms are long overdue.
Democrats say these Republican bills being fast-tracked through the Legislature are opening up a new era of corruption in politics. They gathered for a news conference in Milwaukee on Monday, October 19th.
"That will mark the end of clean, open and transparent government in Wisconsin as we know it," Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) said.
A vote is set for Tuesday on a bill that would eliminate John Doe investigations into politicians.
A recent John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker's staff when he was Milwaukee County Executive and running for governor in 2010 resulted in six convictions.
"Politicians should not cover themselves first while everyone else plays by a different set of rules," Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said.
Governor Walker spoke about the bills at an appearance in Racine County Monday -- specifically the bill that would dismantle the Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections and ethics in Wisconsin. Instead, there would be two bipartisan commissions and no GAB.
"People want to make sure that we have to follow the guidelines this country is based on -- reasonable search and seizure, making sure that if someone's going through information they have to go through the legal process no matter who it is," Governor Walker said. "If (the GAB is) a national model across the country, why don't we see other states popping up with this? It's not. It's a failure," Governor Walker said of the GAB.
Democrats say corporations would be allowed unlimited campaign contributions that could be funneled through political partisan groups.
"I think the majority of what we're doing as far as campaign finance reform is by request of the courts," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said.
The bills which would change Wisconsin campaign financing are scheduled to be voted on on Wednesday in the Republican-controlled Assembly.
And beginning Tuesday, the Legislature will debate the bill proposing changes to John Doe investigations.