Friday, March 28, 2008

WI Gov't Accountability Board: Speech Cops?

To quote the race-track guy, "Aaaaaand They're Offffff!!!"

...the state Government Accountability Board voted Wednesday to consider regulating the thinly veiled campaign spots known as issue ads.

"I think it 's no longer the candidates who are controlling their elections, " Thomas Cane, a former state chief appeals judge and vice chairman of the accountability board, said in an interview after the board voted to review state rules on issue ads.

Cane said the board likely will seek to rewrite those rules, although he said board members need to study how such changes would square with state and federal laws and court rulings.

As Chris Schneider observed, it's entirely likely that the Board does not HAVE such authority--which is why they will spend some time "squaring" things, ahemahummabltzfrk....

The GAB is required to investigate violations of laws it administers and may prosecute, by its legal counsel or a special prosecutor, alleged civil violations of those laws. Alternatively, it may refer prosecution of alleged civil violations to the appropriate district attorney (which is the same prosecutor authorized to prosecute criminal violations). (Quoting the Legislative Council's description of Board authority per State Law.)

Chris acutely points out that the Board cannot make up NEW laws...

But the Board is considering an idea which I think has some merit:

Requiring disclosure of all individuals, corporations and groups that fund issue ads

Were I the King, I would not only implement that rule, but I would also require that 'corporations and groups' which fund issue ads post, on the 'net, a list of its officers and directors, with contact information.

Sunshine is an excellent disinfectant.

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