MADISON, Wis. - Candidates in the 2nd Congressional District race are running television ads, with one of them alleging a quid-pro-quo in the state Legislature.
In an aggressive attempt to define her opponent in a four-way Democratic primary, state Rep. Kelda Roys essentially accuses state Rep. Mark Pocan of pay-to-play politics.
"Remember Mark Pocan? The politician who caved in on voting for tax giveaways to big corporations," a narrator says in the ad.
A WISC-TV analysis found this misleading. Roys is referring to bills which each passed 82-12 last year, with the majority of Democrats voting for them, including Pocan.
One bill wiped out income taxes for two years for companies that moved to Wisconsin.
The second bill expanded the state's economic development tax credits by $25 million. That program was actually started in 2009 and was created by a bill that Roys voted for in the state Legislature.
Who has received these tax credits? The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said that since 2011, 60 companies have benefited, which is expected to create more than 3,000.
The companies include Emmi Roth in Monroe, Filament Games in Madison and some larger companies such as 3M and Polaris.
"Now we find out that after raising campaign cash from predatory lenders, Mark Pocan undermined and delayed legislation to crack down on payday lenders," the ad said.
WISC-TV found this also misleading. Pocan took a $500 donation from a representative for a payday loan company in 2008. So did 13 other lawmakers, Democratic and Republican, including Gordon Hintz, who was the sponsor of the bill to regulate payday lenders.
The Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee also raised nearly $34,000 in 2009-10 from a number of payday loan industry-connected donors. But that money was not just used to help Pocan. It helps in the re-election efforts of all Democrats, presumably including Roys.
So what happened with the bill?
Hintz tried to petition the Assembly speaker to assign his bill to a specific committee, and Pocan intervened, telling Hintz that it was the speaker's prerogative where to assign legislation and he wouldn't question that power.
Did that undermine or delay efforts to regulate payday lenders? A payday lending bill did get a public hearing and it did pass both houses, with the support of Pocan and Roys.
It wasn't the original bill that Hintz introduced but was a compromise many Democrats lauded at the time as the first meaningful regulation of payday lending in Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison and WISC-TV will host a debate between 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary candidates next Tuesday. Pocan and Roys are participating in the debate, as well as Iraq war veteran Matt Silverman and electronic security consultant Dennis Hall.
The four Democratic candidates will meet in the H.F. DeLuca Forum in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on the UW-Madison campus at 330 N. Orchard St. The debate will begin at 7 p.m. and is open to the public, though seating is limited.
WISC-TV will air the debate Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. and on WISC-TV's sister channel, TVW, the same day at 7 p.m.
The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face Republican Chad Lee in the Nov. 6 general election.
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