Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor and construction executive Tim Michels put out a plan this week which would put limits on political lobbying in the state.
Michels, who hopes to challenge incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers in November, wants to alter the role lobbyists can have in fundraising and ban outgoing politicians from joining a lobbying firm for two years after leaving office.
“Our government is designed to be by the people, for the people. But for too long, insiders in Madison have put the demands of the special interests over the needs of the people,” Michels’ campaign said in a statement. “The insider-built system encourages politicians to spend more time making deals instead of crafting sensible public policy solutions.”
The plan — called the “Michels’ Blueprint To Drain the Madison Swamp” — includes several provisions, including stopping Political Action Committees (PACs) under the direction of a lobbying principal to sponsor fundraisers for politicians and political candidates.
“That’s a lot of campaigning that’s happening right now, without transparency — where the money’s from, who’s behind these candidates, and people deserve to have answers on that,” Michels told News 3 Now.
His plan would also block spouses of lobbyists from donating to campaigns during a certain period before general elections to make spouses’ donations subject to the same rules as the lobbyists themselves. Another proposal put a two year wait time on elected and cabinet officials from joining a lobbying firm after leaving office.
Other measures of the bill include bumping up the disclosure time allowance for lobbyists on legislation and increasing the frequency of campaign finance reports.
Matt Rothschild, leader of the Left-leaning Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, praised aspects of Michels’ proposals.
“There were two good things in the plan,” Rothschild said. “One was going to require a two-year ban on lawmakers from becoming lobbyists. … And the other one is the requirement to have campaigns disclose who their donors are January through June.”
The plan comes after Michels, who was endorsed by former President Trump, survived a challenge to his candidacy last week, which alleged he should be disqualified from the ballot over a dispute involving a difference in municipality for his voting and mailing address on his campaign petitions.
Michels also made headlines on Wednesday for his views on marriage. He told the Associated Press Tuesday that “My position on that is that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
“As a businessman, what I do is I look at what’s in the legislation and it’s all about the details. So I am very hesitant to do hypotheticals on a broadly stated question like that,” he said when asked about future potential legislation on the matter.
Republican rivals have taken a different approach to the issue, with a spokesman for former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch saying “she has moved on from this debate,” and former Marine Kevin Nicholoson deferring, saying the legality of same-sex marriage had the support of Americans.
Evers’ campaign tweeted on Tuesday, “Tony will always support the LGBTQ+ community in Wisconsin.” The governor also ordered a rainbow flag raised outside of the state capitol building for the month of June.
The winner of the Wisconsin governor primary will face off against Evers in November.