Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lt. Governor to kick off dialogue on Women, Money and Politics at UW-Oshkosh

Oshkosh – Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton will kick off the Thursday, March 29, public forum on Women, Money and Politics: Who’s Winning? Campus and community members will gather for a discussion with prominent public leaders and advocates for political reform to connect quality of life issues with the need for Clean Election reforms for Wisconsin. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom, 748 Algoma Blvd.

Participants will build a better understanding of the important role of an engaged citizenry in a real democracy as they link progress on improving women’s health, equity, and building political capacity to the health of our democratic institutions. Despite political exclusion, women have a proud and long history of fighting for improvements on their personal lives. Currently, the most pervasive obstacles for women in the fight for equity are the challenges they face running and winning elections.

“The greatest obstacle to equal participation in politics is the unequal voice in the political process created by undue influence of large private contributions to political campaigns,” said Kathy Propp, president of the local League of Women Voters. “Clean Elections provide for public financing of election campaigns that eliminates this political advantage.”

An expert panel will present their experiences and suggestions for fixing our broken campaign finance system and necessary steps toward reclaiming our democracy and bringing respectability back to Wisconsin politics. Peg Lautenschlager, former Democratic state Attorney General, legislator, and public advocate for open and accountable government, has been invited to share her unique insight. Terri McCormick will discuss her experiences with election campaigns and our campaign finance system as a Republican candidate for both the state Assembly and U.S. Congress, as well as a successful independent business woman. Carolyn Castore, Program Director for Midwest States Center and voting rights issue chair for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Legislative Committee, will present a public advocate perspective for Clean Elections reform.

Women and minorities have suffered most by a campaign system increasingly reliant on large contributions from powerful special interests. Publicly financed elections eliminate this chase for campaign cash. Clean Elections provide a healthy political environment where women and men of diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds can participate equitably and practically in our democracy.

“Because of the dominating role of money in politics we are no longer living in a functioning democracy,” said Beverly Speer, advocacy director for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “Money decides who runs, who wins and what [public policies] they support. Clean Elections, also referred to as Voter-owned Elections, will cultivate the necessary hope, rebuild trust and confidence, and give us back our democracy.”

Sponsors of this event are the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Earth Charter Oshkosh, League of Women Voters of the Oshkosh Area, American Democracy Project at UW Oshkosh, UW Oshkosh Women’s Advocacy Council, UW Oshkosh Political Science Student Association, and UW Oshkosh Women’s Center.


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