“Outside groups” in Wisconsin could face new rules

Outiside groups may face additional rules in Wisconsin, according to this report.

The bill proposed would require groups that run such ads within 60 days of an election to abide by the same disclosure requirements as candidates.

The bill the Senate will debate is S.B. 43.

With certain exceptions, this bill imposes registration and reporting requirements, in addition, upon any individual who and organization that, within 60 days of an election and by means of communications media, makes any communication that includes a reference to a candidate at that election, an office to be filled at that election, or a political party. The bill also requires an individual who or organization that becomes subject to a registration requirement by making such a communication to report, upon registration, the information that would have been required to be reported if the individual or organization had been registered with respect to any obligation incurred or disbursement made for the purpose of making such a communication prior to registration. The bill, however, does not require registration and reporting if the communication is made by a corporation, cooperative, or nonpolitical voluntary association and is limited to the corporation’s, cooperative’s, or association’s members, shareholders, or subscribers. In addition, the bill exempts from registration and reporting the cost of making a communication that 1) does not mention an election, candidacy, opposing candidate, political party, or voting by the general public; and 2) does not take a position on a candidate’s or officeholder’s character, qualifications, or fitness for office, and either a) focuses on a legislative or executive matter or issue and urges a candidate to take a particular position or action with respect to the matter or issue or urges the public to contact a candidate with respect to the matter or issue, or b) proposes a commercial transaction, such as the purchase of a book, video, or other product or service, unless the communication is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a candidate for state or local office whose name is certified to appear on the ballot at the election.

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