- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Study finds campaign ad spending down in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - It may not seem like it, but there are fewer campaign advertisements on television this year than in 2010.

A report released Wednesday by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity showed that spending on TV ads was down 52 percent this election compared to four years ago. The number of ads was down from 37,465 to just 19,210.

Highlights from the report:

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WHAT DOES IT SHOW?

The nationwide study shows that through Sept. 8 about $5.6 million has been spent on campaign ads in Wisconsin, with nearly all of that coming in the governor’s race. Through a comparable time in the 2010 election, $11.6 million had been spent on ads.

The 2010 election featured a contested Republican primary for governor, which Scott Walker won, while this year Walker did not face a primary challenge and the Democratic nominee, Mary Burke, had minimal opposition.

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Archdiocese spokesman: Mediation ends without deal

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A second round of talks in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s bankruptcy case failed to yield a deal, and mediation has ended, an archdiocese spokesman said Tuesday.

Attorneys for the archdiocese, victims of clergy sexual abuse and others involved in the bankruptcy met for two days earlier this month and again this week to try to reach an agreement. Archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski said in an email Tuesday afternoon that they were unsuccessful.

An earlier attempt at mediation in 2012 also failed.

A court order prevents Topczewski and others involved from discussing details of the process or why it didn’t work. James Stang, the attorney for the committee representing all the archdiocese’s creditors, had no comment.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, saying it wouldn’t have the money to pay if it lost lawsuits filed by abuse victims. Hundreds of victims then filed claims in bankruptcy court.

A sticking point in the case has been $55 million in a cemetery trust fund created by New York Cardinal and former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan. The archdiocese maintains the money was given to care for Catholic cemeteries and must be used for that purpose. Abuse victims say Dolan set up the trust to hide money from them.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has yet to decide on an appeal of a federal judge’s decision making the trust off-limits to creditors in the bankruptcy case.

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AG hopeful has plan to curb crimes against women

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican attorney general hopeful Brad Schimel has unveiled a plan to curb crimes against women.

Under the plan, the state Justice Department would provide free date-rape drug testing kits to colleges; advocate for a law that would ensure victims and witnesses are immune form minor drug or alcohol offenses; create a college sexual assault task force; create a sensitive crimes certification for police; and expand sexual assault nurse examiner programs statewide.

Schimel says he would use annual federal grants to fund the initiatives.

Schimel will face Democrat Susan Happ in the Nov. 4 election. Happ’s campaign manager says he’s glad Schimel has “seen the light on campus sexual assaults” and hopes he will join with Happ in supporting women’s abortion rights.

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Wisconsin DOJ: Leave voter ID decision alone

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal appeals court should leave its decision allowing Wisconsin election officials to implement the state’s voter photo identification law alone, state Department of Justice attorneys argued Tuesday.

Changing course now, this close to the election and with preparations already underway to implement the law, would confuse election officials and voters, the attorneys wrote in a court filing in response to a request that the court reconsider its decision. The attorneys also argued that the vast majority of voters already have the proper ID.

“Plaintiffs are asking this Court to pinball state and local election officials between enforcing and not enforcing the law with an election on the horizon,” they wrote in their brief. “Voters would get the pinball treatment, too.”

Republican legislators passed a law in 2011 requiring all voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. The GOP said the measure will help cut down on election fraud. Democrats have countered that no widespread fraud exists in the state and the law is really designed to prevent Democratic-leaning constituencies such as the poor and elderly who lack IDs from voting.

The law was in effect for the February 2012 primary, but the mandate had been dormant since then because of legal challenges. The state Supreme Court in July found the law was constitutional and a three-judge panel from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the state could reinstate it as the court ponders a federal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project.

The ACLU and the Advancement Project last week asked the full 7th Circuit to reconsider the panel’s decision. The two groups argued that the reinstatement is a huge last-minute change ahead of the Nov. 4 election that will result in chaos and could prevent more than 300,000 people who lack photo ID from voting.

It’s unclear what the court might do next, although it rarely grants hearings in front of the full assembly of judges.

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