Martin returns contributions from lobbyists
By Robert Cloud
A local candidate who supports campaign finance reform returned all his donations from lobbyists.
Dmitri Martin, Democratic candidate for Assembly District 40, went to the Waupaca post office Oct. 6 and returned nearly $3,200 in contributions from seven organizations.
“I want to set an example for current and future legislators that shows you can win an election against a very well-funded opponent without taking lobbyist or party money,” Martin said.
He returned contributions from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Education Association Council, two WEAC regional offices, the Communications Workers of America, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 400 and the NorthEast Wisconsin Building and Construction Council.
“I support what they stand for, but I feel I need to walk the talk,” Martin said, regarding campaign finance reform.
“I want to pass legislation that basically says you can only accept campaign contributions from your constituents, not from the lobbyists, not from political action committees, not from the political parties, just from the people who can vote for you,” he said.
While he recognizes passing such legislation would be a long shot, especially in his first term, Martin feels confident there is currently broad-based support for reform.
“I will reach out to other freshmen who are elected on this wave of anti-establishment sentiment and have not been bought off by the lobbyists yet to co-sponsor this legislation and push it through,” Martin said.
He has a two-part strategy to help bring about change in how election campaigns are funded.
As Martin and his campaign volunteers go door to door, they are promoting his candidacy and circulating petitions that would limit city and village candidates to accepting donations only from the people they represent.
“I have hundreds of signatures,” Martin told the Waupaca County Post. “When I get enough signatures in our cities and villages – 15 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the preceding election – I can take those signatures to the municipal clerk and by state law that municipality will have to put the proposal up as a referendum in the next general election.”
If the referenda pass and local ordinances setting limits on campaign contributions are enacted, Martin hopes other legislators will be encouraged to promote similar referenda in their own districts.
As of Oct. 6, Martin raised a total $26,806 for his campaign and returned $3,168 of that amount.
According to the campaign finance report filed in September by state Rep. Kevin Petersen, the Republican incumbent raised a total of $20,295 in this calendar year, with $5,250 of that amount coming from eight political action committees.
Petersen’s campaign reported a $44,630 cash balance at the end of August.