Assembly Democrats Recuse Themselves From Campaign Finance Vote

Vos Calls Recusal A Stunt

Maureen McCollum/WPR

Every Assembly Democrat recused themselves from a floor vote Wednesday night in which Republican lawmakers approved major changes to campaign finance law in Wisconsin.

The legislation in question would let candidates coordinate with anonymously funded issue groups and allow corporations to make unlimited donations to political parties. It would also allow unlimited contributions to legislative campaign committees and double contribution limits to legislators.

Democrats, including state Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, said those latter changes presented a conflict.

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“This bill could directly impact my campaign committee, and my campaign committee spends a lot of money saying really nice things about me,” said Doyle, addressing Speaker Robin Vos. “And if the voters vote for me, I get this job and I make $50,000 a year. So because of that, I figure that I have a substantial financial interest in this matter, and I must recuse myself from voting on this bill.”

Vos, however, called the recusal a stunt: “You can vote no quietly, but our job isn’t to look at one of these issues and say we’re going to as a body not vote on things,” he said.

With all Democrats sitting out, the bill passed, 61-0.