Photo by hobvias sudoneighm
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, perhaps emboldened by their success in crushing public employee unions and redrawing voter boundaries to enhance their electoral success, last year rammed through a series of controversial bills. They voted to dismantle the Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan state agency charged with enforcing elections and ethics rules, and replace it with commissions of partisan appointees. And they revamped state campaign laws to dramatically increase the flow of money into the electoral process.
Sheila Plotkin, a Wisconsin resident, was curious about whether the lawmakers who supported these bills were representing the will of the people.* She used the state’s open records law to request the citizen correspondence they received on these and other hot-button political issues. And she found that these lawmakers disregarded the overwhelming weight of this input.
Here are the charts Plotkin created and posted on her website, we-the-irrelevant.org.
In some cases, Plotkin has had to fight lawmakers to obtain these records. At least she still can: Last year, Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin launched a sneak attack on the state’s open records law. That effort was met with a huge public reaction and beaten back—for now.
*Prominently inscribed in the Wisconsin state capitol are the words of Wisconsin Governor Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the founder of this magazine: “The will of the people shall be the law of the land.”
Bill Lueders is Associate Editor of The Progressive.