2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
October 8, 2015 - Introduced by Representative Vos, cosponsored by Senator S.
Fitzgerald. Referred to Committee on Campaigns and Elections.
1An Act to repeal
13.62 (11t); to renumber
13.75 (intro.); to renumber and
13.625 (1) (c) (intro.), 13.625 (1) (c) 1., 13.625 (1) (c) 2. and 946.11 (2) (b); 3to amend
5.02 (13), 5.05 (2), 5.05 (2m) (d) 2., 5.05 (2m) (e), 5.05 (5e), 6.87 (3) 4
(b), 7.23 (1) (d), 7.40, 7.50 (2) (em), 8.05 (1) (j) 2., 8.10 (5), 8.15 (4) (b), 8.16 (2) 5
(c), 8.20 (6), 8.30 (2), 8.35 (2) (a), 8.35 (2) (c), 8.35 (4) (c), 8.35 (4) (d), 8.35 (4) (e), 6
8.50 (3) (a), 9.01 (5) (bm), 9.10 (2) (d), 12.07 (4), 12.08, 12.13 (3) (h), 12.60 (4), 7
13.62 (5g), 13.62 (5r), 13.625 (1) (b) (intro.), 13.625 (1) (b) 3., 13.625 (2), 13.625 8
(3), 13.625 (6r), 13.69 (6), 13.695 (4), 15.60 (5), 15.60 (6), 15.60 (7), 15.79 (2) (b), 9
19.42 (3m), 19.45 (13), 19.579 (1), 19.59 (1) (br), 19.59 (7) (b), 20.511 (1) (a), 10
20.511 (1) (i), 20.511 (1) (j), 20.855 (6) (h), 36.11 (1) (cm), 111.365 (3) (a), 120.06 11
(6) (b) 5., 185.03 (10) (e), 202.12 (5) (a) 2., 341.14 (6r) (fm) 1. b., 346.94 (16) (b) 12
2., 349.135 (2) (b), 563.907 (3) (b), 630.05 (intro.), 755.01 (4), 758.13 (3) (g) 1. a. 13
and 758.13 (3) (g) 1. b.; to repeal and recreate
chapter 11; and to create
(5j), 13.62 (5u), 13.75 (1r) and 946.11 (2) (b) 1. and 2. of the statutes; relating
2to: campaign finance.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill restructures chapter 11 of the Wisconsin statutes, the campaign
finance law. The bill also makes the following substantive changes:
The bill requires the following entities to register with the Government
Accountability Board or a local filing officer before accepting a contribution, making
a disbursement, or incurring an obligation:
1. Candidate committees.
2. Political parties.
3. Legislative campaign committees.
4. Political action committees.
5. Independent expenditure committees.
7. Referendum committees.
8. Recall committees.
Each entity that is required to register must appoint a treasurer or, in the case
of a conduit, an administrator to comply with the registration and reporting
requirements under the bill. A candidate may serve as the treasurer of his or her
candidate committee, but the candidate may only accept contributions and make
disbursements through his or her committee.
The bill defines a "political action committee" as an entity that has express
advocacy as its major purpose, as specified in the committee's organizational
documents or as indicated by the committee to the board.
Under the bill "express advocacy" means communication that contains terms
such as the following or their functional equivalents with reference to a clearly
identified candidate and that unambiguously relates to the campaign of that
1. "Vote for".
4. "Cast your ballot for".
5. "Smith for ... (an elective office)".
6. "Vote against".
9. "Cast your ballot against".
The bill defines "independent expenditure committee" as any person, other
than an individual, or any permanent or temporary combination of persons
unrelated by marriage, formed for the major purpose of making independent
expenditures. The bill defines "independent expenditure" as an expenditure for
express advocacy that is not made in coordination with a candidate, candidate
committee, candidate's agent, legislative campaign committee, or political party.
All committees required to register under the bill must file periodic reports with
the board. The committees report all contributions, disbursements, and obligations
received, made, and incurred by the committee. A conduit reports all contributions
released to support or oppose a candidate or committee. Committees and conduits,
generally, submit the following reports:
1. A preprimary report. Conduits are not required to submit these reports.
2. A preelection report. Conduits are not required to submit these reports.
3. With regard to a spring primary or spring election, a report filed on the 15th
day of January, April, July, and October.
4. With regard to other primaries and elections, or for those holding office not
up for election, in an odd-numbered year, a report on filed on the 15th day of January,
April, July, and October and, in the even numbered year, a report filed on the 15th
day of January, April, and July and on the fourth Tuesday in September.
Under the bill, if a political action committee, an independent expenditure
committee, or a person who is not otherwise subject to reporting spends $5,000 or
more in the aggregate on express advocacy during the period beginning 60 days prior
to an election and ending on the day of the election, the committee or person must
submit a report to the board no later than 48 hours after making the expenditures.
The report must provide all of the following:
1. The dates on which the committee or person made the expenditures.
2. The names and addresses of the persons who received the expenditures.
3. The purpose for making the expenditures.
4. The amount spent for each act of express advocacy.
5. The name of the candidate affected by the expenditures.
6. An affirmation, made under oath, that the person will comply with the
prohibition on coordination, as provided under the bill.
7. The name and address of the designated agent of the committee or person.
A person which is not a committee required to register under the bill does not
have to register simply because that person reports expenditures for express
advocacy made during the 60-day period prior to the election.
The bill doubles the contribution limits under current law applicable to
candidates for state or local office. Under the bill, every five years, beginning in 2021,
the board will adjust the contribution limits to reflect the percentage change in the
consumer price index during the preceding five-year period.
The bill allows the following contributions to be made in unlimited amounts:
1. Contributions to a political action committee.
2. Contributions transferred between political action committees.
3. Contributions to a legislative campaign committee, except that a political
action committee may contribute no more than $12,000 in any calendar year to a
legislative campaign committee.
4. Contributions to a political party, except that a political action committee
may contribute no more than $12,000 in any calendar year to a political party.
5. Contributions made by a political party or legislative campaign committee
to a candidate committee.
6. Contributions paid to a segregated fund established and administered by a
political party or legislative campaign committee for purposes other than making
contributions to a candidate committee.
7. Contributions that a candidate makes to his or her candidate committee from
the candidate's personal funds.
8. Contributions transferred between the candidates for governor and
lieutenant governor of the same political party.
9. Contributions used to pay legal fees and other expenses incurred as a result
of a recount.
10. Contributions used to pay legal fees and other expenses incurred in
connection with a recall.
11. Contributions to a recall committee.
12. Contributions to a referendum committee.
The bill prohibits corporations, cooperatives, labor organizations, and tribes
from contributing to committees, other than independent expenditure committees
and referendum committees. The bill also allows corporations, cooperatives, labor
organizations, and tribes to contribute to a segregated fund established and
administered by a political party or legislative campaign committee for purposes
other than making contributions to a candidate committee.
The bill prohibits a person from making an expenditure for express advocacy
that is coordinated with a candidate, candidate committee, candidate's agent,
legislative campaign committee, or political party and that exceeds the contribution
limits or violates the source restrictions established in the bill. An expenditure for
express advocacy is coordinated with such individuals or entities if the individual or
entity exercises control over or engages in substantial discussions with the person
making the expenditure regarding the content, timing, form, or frequency of the
express advocacy. A coordinated expenditure must be reported by the candidate
committee as a contribution.