Government and Political Roundup: Election laws up for debate today in Madison
A Wisconsin Assembly committee is scheduled to vote today on a compromise package of changes to the state's election laws. The compromise, announced on Friday night, would drop some of the most controversial measures like changing the photo I-D requirement for voting - restricting hours for early voting - and making it harder to recall local officials. The new bill would give lawmakers of both parties something they favor - higher limits for individual campaign contributions. Those running for top offices like governor could get up to 20-thousand-dollars per donor in an election cycle, up from the current 10-thousand. Legislative candidates could also get double the donations from supporters, to a maximum of two-thousand-dollars per cycle for Senate hopefuls and one-thousand for Assembly candidates. Democrats have said the change would make for cleaner government - because more donors would identify themselves by giving directly to candidates, instead of certain special interest groups that do not have to say where they get their money. At least one watchdog disagrees. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says it would only bring more money into politics. Racine millionaire Fred Young has also come out against the new campaign donation limits. He wants limits eliminated altogether - and he filed suit in federal court last week, calling the donation limits an infringement on free speech.
U-S Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says we need a "very delicate balance" between protecting civil liberties and gathering intelligence to fight terrorism. Johnson, a member of the Senate Homeland Security panel, was on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss the recent reports about the monitoring of phone calls and Internet usage. Johnson said he was quote, "every bit concerned" about civil liberties as many Americans who criticized the extent in which national security personnel search for patterns of terrorist activity. Still, Johnson calls intelligence-gathering capabilities is quote, "our greatest line of defense" against terrorism. While calling for a balance, Johnson also said there needs to be congressional oversight. He said the reason the topic became such a big issue is quote, "the American people have lost their faith in President Obama and his administration." Johnson also criticized Obama's choice of Susan Rice as the new national security adviser. The senator said Rice was quote, "at the center of misleading America" on last year's attack that killed four Americans at the U-S Embassy in Libya. He also mentioned the possibility of holding up other Obama nominations to try and dig out more information about the attack. Those nominations include Samantha Power for the U-N Ambassadorship, and Victoria Nuland as an assistant secretary of state.