LRB-0852/1
TKK:jld
2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
January 20, 2017 - Introduced by Representatives Kessler, C. Taylor, Mason,
Sinicki, Brostoff, Berceau, Ohnstad, Wachs and Spreitzer. Referred to
Committee on Judiciary.
AB32,1,5 1An Act to repeal 801.50 (5t), 801.64, 971.19 (12) and 971.223; and to amend
25.05 (1) (c), 5.05 (2m) (a), 5.05 (2m) (c) 4., 5.05 (2m) (c) 11., 5.05 (2m) (c) 14., 5.05
3(2m) (i), 5.08, 6.56 (4), 11.1400 (5), 11.1401 (2), 12.13 (5) (a), 19.554, 801.52,
4971.225 (1) (intro.), 978.05 (1) and 978.05 (2) of the statutes; relating to: the
5prosecution and venue for trial of certain offenses by certain state residents.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill changes the venue for trials involving violations of elections, ethics,
and lobbying regulation laws.
Under current law, with limited exceptions, civil violations of elections laws and
of laws related to the official functions of the subject of an investigation or any matter
that relates to elections that are alleged to be committed by a resident of this state
are prosecuted by the Elections Commission or by the district attorney for the
prosecutorial unit (in most cases, the county) where the subject resides. Also under
current law, with similar exceptions, civil violations of campaign finance, ethics, and
lobbying regulation laws and of laws related to the official functions of the subject
of an investigation or any matter that relates to campaign finance, ethics, or lobbying
that are alleged to be committed by a resident of this state are prosecuted by the
Ethics Commission or by the district attorney for the prosecutorial unit where the
subject resides. With similar exceptions, civil violations of these laws by
nonresidents are prosecuted by the respective commission or by the district attorney
for the prosecutorial unit where an alleged violation occurs. Criminal violations of

these laws are prosecuted solely by the same district attorney, subject to the same
exceptions. With certain limited exceptions, the trial in any such civil or criminal
prosecution of a resident of this state, as well as in any lobbying license revocation
action brought by the Ethics Commission, is held in circuit court for the county where
the subject resides. With similar exceptions, the trial in any such civil or criminal
prosecution of a nonresident of this state is held in circuit court for the county where
an alleged violation occurs.
This bill provides, with similar exceptions, that all such civil violations of
elections laws shall be prosecuted by the Elections Commission or by the district
attorney for the prosecutorial unit where an alleged violation occurs, irrespective of
the residence of the defendant. The bill also provides, with similar exceptions, that
all such civil violations of campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying laws shall be
prosecuted by the Ethics Commission or by the district attorney for the prosecutorial
unit where an alleged violation occurs, irrespective of the residence of the defendant.
The bill also provides, with similar exceptions, that all such criminal violations shall
be prosecuted solely by the district attorney for the prosecutorial unit where an
alleged violation occurs, irrespective of the residence of the defendant. In addition,
the bill provides, with limited exceptions, that the trial in any such civil or criminal
prosecution, as well as in any lobbying license revocation action brought by the
Ethics Commission, shall be held in circuit court for the county where the alleged
violation occurs. Under the bill, the Elections Commission has no responsibility for
prosecution of any violations other than violations of elections laws, and the Ethics
Commission has no responsibility for prosecution of any violations other than
violations of campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying regulation laws.
The bill also deletes a statutory restriction on the disclosure of certain
information related to the investigation or prosecution of laws arising from or in
relation to the official functions of the person who is investigated or prosecuted.
Under the bill, the information may still be withheld if other laws authorize or
require the information to be withheld or if the custodian can demonstrate that the
public interest requires withholding.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB32,1 1Section 1. 5.05 (1) (c) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,3,202 5.05 (1) (c) Bring civil actions to require a forfeiture for any violation of chs. 5
3to 10 or 12. The commission may compromise and settle any civil action or potential
4action brought or authorized to be brought by it which, in the opinion of the
5commission, constitutes a minor violation, a violation caused by excusable neglect,
6or which for other good cause shown, should not in the public interest be prosecuted

1under such chapter. Notwithstanding s. 778.06, a civil action or proposed civil action
2authorized under this paragraph may be settled for such sum as may be agreed
3between the parties. Any settlement made by the commission shall be in such
4amount as to deprive the alleged violator of any benefit of his or her wrongdoing and
5may contain a penal component to serve as a deterrent to future violations. In
6settling civil actions or proposed civil actions, the commission shall treat comparable
7situations in a comparable manner and shall assure that any settlement bears a
8reasonable relationship to the severity of the offense or alleged offense. Except as
9otherwise provided in sub. (2m) (c) 15. and 16. and ss. 5.08 and 5.081, forfeiture

10Forfeiture actions brought by the commission shall be brought in the circuit court for
11the county where the defendant resides, or if the defendant is a nonresident of this
12state, in circuit court for the county
wherein the violation is alleged to occur. For
13purposes of this paragraph, a person other than an individual resides within a county
14if the person's principal place of operation is located within that county.
Whenever
15the commission enters into a settlement agreement with an individual who is
16accused of a civil violation of chs. 5 to 10 or 12 or who is investigated by the
17commission for a possible civil violation of one of those provisions, the commission
18shall reduce the agreement to writing, together with a statement of the commission's
19findings and reasons for entering into the agreement and shall retain the agreement
20and statement in its office for inspection.
AB32,2 21Section 2. 5.05 (2m) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,4,722 5.05 (2m) (a) The commission shall investigate violations of laws administered
23by the commission and may prosecute alleged civil violations of those laws, directly
24or through its agents under this subsection, pursuant to all statutes granting or
25assigning that authority or responsibility to the commission. Prosecution of alleged

1criminal violations investigated by the commission may be brought only as provided
2in par. (c) 11., 14., 15., and 16. and s. 978.05 (1).
For purposes of this subsection, the
3commission may only initiate an investigation of an alleged violation of chs. 5 to 10
4and 12, other than an offense described under par. (c) 12., based on a sworn complaint
5filed with the commission, as provided under par. (c). Neither the commission nor
6any member or employee of the commission, including the commission
7administrator, may file a sworn complaint for purposes of this subsection.
AB32,3 8Section 3. 5.05 (2m) (c) 4. of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,5,129 5.05 (2m) (c) 4. If the commission reviews a complaint and fails to find that
10there is a reasonable suspicion that a violation under subd. 2. has occurred or is
11occurring, the commission shall dismiss the complaint. If the commission believes
12that there is reasonable suspicion that a violation under subd. 2. has occurred or is
13occurring, the commission may by resolution authorize the commencement of an
14investigation. The resolution shall specifically set forth any matter that is
15authorized to be investigated. To assist in the investigation, the commission may
16elect to retain a special investigator. If the commission elects to retain a special
17investigator, the administrator of the commission shall submit to the commission the
18names of 3 qualified individuals to serve as a special investigator. The commission
19may retain one or more of the individuals. If Unless another prosecutor has
20jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged violation, if
the commission retains a special
21investigator to investigate a complaint against a person who is a resident of this state
22alleging a violation under subd. 2., the commission shall provide to the district
23attorney for the county in which the person resides where the violation is alleged to
24occur
a copy of the complaint and shall notify the district attorney that it has retained
25a special investigator to investigate the complaint. For purposes of this subdivision,

1a person other than an individual resides within a county if the person's principal
2place of operation is located within that county
. If another prosecutor has
3jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged violation, the commission shall provide the copy
4of the complaint and notification to that prosecutor or the person having authority
5to appoint that prosecutor
. The commission shall enter into a written contract with
6any individual who is retained as a special investigator setting forth the terms of the
7engagement. A special investigator who is retained by the commission may request
8the commission to issue a subpoena to a specific person or to authorize the special
9investigator to request the circuit court of the county in which the specific person
10resides to issue a search warrant. The commission may grant the request by
11approving a motion to that effect at a meeting of the commission if the commission
12finds that such action is legally appropriate.
AB32,4 13Section 4. 5.05 (2m) (c) 11. of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,5,2214 5.05 (2m) (c) 11. If the commission finds that there is probable cause to believe
15that a violation under subd. 2. has occurred or is occurring, the commission may, in
16lieu of civil prosecution of any matter by the commission, refer the matter to the
17district attorney for the county in which the alleged violator resides, or if the alleged
18violator is a nonresident, to the district attorney for the county where the matter
19arises,
having jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged violation, or if subd. 16. or par. (i)
20applies, to the attorney general or a special prosecutor. For purposes of this
21subdivision, a person other than a natural person resides within a county if the
22person's principal place of operation is located within that county
.
AB32,5 23Section 5. 5.05 (2m) (c) 14. of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,6,724 5.05 (2m) (c) 14. If a special investigator or the commission administrator, in
25the course of an investigation authorized by the commission, discovers evidence of

1a potential violation of a law that is not administered by the commission arising from
2or in relation to the official functions of the subject of the investigation or any matter
3that involves elections, the special investigator or the administrator may present
4that evidence to the commission. The commission may thereupon refer the matter
5to the appropriate district attorney specified, except as otherwise provided in subd.
611., or may refer the matter to the attorney general. The attorney general may then
7commence a civil or criminal prosecution relating to the matter.
AB32,6 8Section 6. 5.05 (2m) (i) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,6,149 5.05 (2m) (i) If the defendant in an action for a an alleged criminal violation
10of chs. 5 to 10 or 12 is concerns a district attorney or a circuit judge or a candidate
11for either such office, the action shall be brought by the attorney general. If the
12defendant in an action for a
an alleged criminal violation of chs. 5 to 10 or 12 is
13concerns the attorney general or a candidate for that office, the commission may
14appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the prosecution on behalf of the state.
AB32,7 15Section 7. 5.08 of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,7,8 165.08 Petition for enforcement. In addition to or in lieu of filing a complaint,
17any elector may file a verified petition alleging such facts as are within his or her
18knowledge to indicate that an election official has failed or is failing to comply with
19any law regulating the conduct of elections or election campaigns, other than a law
20regulating campaign financing, or proposes to act in a manner inconsistent with such
21a law, and requesting that an action be commenced for injunctive relief, a writ of
22mandamus or prohibition or other such legal or equitable relief as may be
23appropriate to compel compliance with the law. The Unless another prosecutor has
24jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged failure to comply, the
petition shall be filed with
25the district attorney for the county having jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged

1failure to comply under s. 978.05 (1) and (2) . If another prosecutor has jurisdiction
2to prosecute the alleged failure to comply, the petition shall be filed with that
3prosecutor or the person having authority to appoint that prosecutor
. The district
4attorney or other prosecutor may then commence the action or dismiss the petition.
5If the district attorney or other prosecutor declines to act upon the petition or if the
6district attorney fails to act upon the petition within 15 days of the date of filing, the
7petitioner may file the same petition with the attorney general, who may then
8commence the action.
AB32,8 9Section 8. 6.56 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,7,2010 6.56 (4) After each election, the municipal clerk shall perform an audit to
11assure that no person has been allowed to vote more than once. Whenever the
12municipal clerk has good reason to believe that a person has voted more than once
13in an election, the clerk shall send the person a 1st class letter marked in accordance
14with postal regulations to ensure that it will be returned to the clerk if the elector
15does not reside at the address given on the letter. The letter shall inform the person
16that all registrations relating to that person may be changed from eligible to
17ineligible status within 7 days unless the person contacts the office of the clerk to
18clarify the matter. A copy of the letter and of any subsequent information received
19from or about the addressee shall be sent to the district attorney for the county where
20the person resides any potential violation occurs and the commission.
AB32,9 21Section 9. 11.1400 (5) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,8,722 11.1400 (5) Except as otherwise provided in ss. 19.49 (2) (b) 13. and 14. and (g)
23and 19.554, actions under this section may be brought by the commission or, upon
24the commission's determination of probable cause, by the district attorney for the
25county where the defendant resides or, if the defendant is a nonresident, by the

1district attorney for the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred. For
2purposes of this subsection, a person other than an individual resides within a county
3if the person's principal place of operation is located within that county
violation is
4alleged to have occurred. If a violation concerns a district attorney or circuit judge
5or candidate for either such office, the action shall be brought by the attorney
6general. If a violation concerns the attorney general or a candidate for such office,
7the commission may appoint special counsel to bring suit on behalf of the state
.
AB32,10 8Section 10. 11.1401 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,8,239 11.1401 (2) Except as otherwise provided in ss. s. 19.49 (2) (b) 13. and 14. and
10(h) and 19.554, and only after the commission has determined probable cause, all
11prosecutions under this section shall be conducted by the district attorney for the
12county where the defendant resides or, if the defendant is a nonresident, by the
13district attorney for the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred. For
14purposes of this subsection, a person other than a individual resides within a county
15if the person's principal place of operation is located within that county
violation is
16alleged to have occurred. In addition to the remedy provided in s. 19.49 (2) (b) 13.
17to 15., if the district attorney refuses to act upon a sworn complaint, or fails to act
18upon such a complaint within 60 days of the date on which the complaint is received,
19the attorney general may then conduct the prosecution under this section. If a
20violation concerns a district attorney or circuit judge or candidate for either such
21office, the prosecution shall be conducted by the attorney general. If a violation
22concerns the attorney general or a candidate for such office, the commission may
23appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the prosecution on behalf of the state
.
AB32,11 24Section 11. 12.13 (5) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,9,9
112.13 (5) (a) Except as specifically authorized by law and except as provided
2in par. (b), no investigator, prosecutor, employee of an investigator or prosecutor, or
3member or employee of the commission may disclose information related to an
4investigation or prosecution under chs. 5 to 10 or 12, or any other law specified in s.
5978.05 (1) or (2)
or provide access to any record of the investigator, prosecutor, or the
6commission that is not subject to access under s. 5.05 (5s) to any person other than
7an employee or agent of the prosecutor or investigator or a member, employee, or
8agent of the commission prior to presenting the information or record in a court of
9law.
AB32,12 10Section 12. 19.554 of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,9,24 1119.554 Petition for enforcement. In addition to or in lieu of filing a
12complaint, any elector may file a verified petition alleging such facts as are within
13his or her knowledge to indicate that an election official has failed or is failing to
14comply with any law regulating campaign financing or proposes to act in a manner
15inconsistent with such a law, and requesting that an action be commenced for
16injunctive relief, a writ of mandamus or prohibition or other such legal or equitable
17relief as may be appropriate to compel compliance with the law. The Unless another
18prosecutor has jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged failure to comply, the
petition
19shall be filed with the district attorney for the county having jurisdiction to prosecute
20the alleged failure to comply under s. 978.05 (1) and (2). If another prosecutor has
21jurisdiction to prosecute the alleged failure to comply, the petition shall be filed with
22that prosecutor or the person having authority to appoint that prosecutor
. The
23district attorney may then commence the action or dismiss the petition. If the district
24attorney declines to act upon the petition or if the district attorney fails to act upon

1the petition within 15 days of the date of filing, the petitioner may file the same
2petition with the attorney general, who may then commence the action.
AB32,13 3Section 13. 801.50 (5t) of the statutes is repealed.
AB32,14 4Section 14. 801.52 of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,10,15 5801.52 Discretionary change of venue. The court may at any time, upon
6its own motion, the motion of a party or the stipulation of the parties, change the
7venue to any county in the interest of justice or for the convenience of the parties or
8witnesses, except that venue in a civil action to impose a forfeiture for a violation of
9chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch. 19 or for a violation of any other
10law arising from or in relation to the official functions of the subject of the
11investigation or any matter that involves elections, ethics, or lobbying regulation
12under chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch. 19, may be changed only
13as provided in s. 971.223 (1) and (2) or in the same manner that is authorized for a
14change in the venue of a criminal trial under s. 971.22
. This section does not apply
15to proceedings under ch. 980.
AB32,15 16Section 15. 801.64 of the statutes is repealed.
AB32,16 17Section 16. 971.19 (12) of the statutes is repealed.
AB32,17 18Section 17. 971.223 of the statutes is repealed.
AB32,18 19Section 18. 971.225 (1) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,10,2120 971.225 (1) (intro.) In lieu of changing the place of trial under s. 971.22 (3) or
21971.223
, the court may require the selection of a jury under sub. (2) if:
AB32,19 22Section 19. 978.05 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,11,1123 978.05 (1) Criminal actions. Except as otherwise provided by law, prosecute
24all criminal actions before any court within his or her prosecutorial unit and have
25sole responsibility for prosecution of all criminal actions arising from violations of

1chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch. 19 and from violations of other
2laws arising from or in relation to the official functions of the subject of the
3investigation or any matter that involves elections, ethics, or lobbying regulation
4under chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch. 19, that are alleged to be
5committed by a resident of his or her prosecutorial unit, or if alleged to be committed
6by a nonresident of this state, that are alleged to occur in his or her prosecutorial unit

7unless another prosecutor is substituted under s. 5.05 (2m) (i) or 19.49 (2) (h) or this
8chapter or by referral of the elections commission under s. 5.05 (2m) (c) 15. or 16. or
9the ethics commission under s. 19.49 (2) (b) 13. or 14. For purposes of this subsection,
10a person other than an individual is a resident of a prosecutorial unit if the person's
11principal place of operation is located in that prosecutorial unit.
AB32,20 12Section 20. 978.05 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB32,12,413 978.05 (2) Forfeitures. Except as otherwise provided by law, prosecute all
14state forfeiture actions, county traffic actions, and actions concerning violations of
15county ordinances which are in conformity with state criminal laws in the courts
16within his or her prosecutorial unit and have joint responsibility, together with the
17elections commission and the ethics commission, for prosecution of all forfeiture
18actions arising from violations of chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch.
1919 and from violations of other laws arising from or in relation to the official functions
20of the subject of the investigation or any matter that involves elections, ethics, or
21lobbying regulation under chs. 5 to 12, subch. III of ch. 13, or subch. III of ch. 19 that
22are alleged to be committed by a resident of his or her prosecutorial unit, or if alleged
23to be committed by a nonresident of this state,
that are alleged to occur within his
24or her prosecutorial unit unless another prosecutor is substituted under s. 5.05 (2m)
25(h) or 19.49 (2) (g) or this chapter or by referral of the elections commission under s.

15.05 (2m) (c) 15. or 16. or the ethics commission under s. 19.49 (2) (b) 13. or 14. For
2purposes of this subsection, a person other than an individual is a resident of a
3prosecutorial unit if the person's principal place of operation is located in that
4prosecutorial unit.
AB32,12,55 (End)
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