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Assembly Speaker says Dems will ban fund raising while budget is debated

Majority Democrats in the state Assembly do not want people wondering who paid who to get something put in the state budget.

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, Janesville, says the Organization Committee which he chairs will pass a rule which bans campaign fundraisers while the budget is being debated.

Democrats control the committee 5-3, and Sheridan's office says the ban will be adopted by the end of the month. It would begin in February, after Gov. Jim Doyle unveils his budget proposal.

Sheridan announced the fundraising ban Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by

Lawmakers could not seek contributions, but they could still take unsolicited donations. And the ban would not affect the party committees designed to get their members elected.

Still, Sheridan calls the ban the first step in campaign finance reform.

Jay Heck of the watchdog group Common Cause calls it a very small first step and much more is needed.

Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says that when lobbyists are urged to attend fundraisers at budget time, it gives the appearance that the budget's being auctioned off.

The Senate bans fundraisers in Dane County on days of budget sessions but Majority Leader Russ Decker's office did not say if the Senate would go along with the Assembly's ban.