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Lac du Flambeau approves referendum questions

January 24, 2020 by Brian Jopek

The Lac du Flambeau Town Board on Tuesday became the latest in the Lakeland area to go along with requests from the groups United To Amend and the Fair Elections Project to have non-binding referendum questions placed on the April ballot.

Both are nationwide, “grass roots” initiatives, the Fair Elections Project formed to press for fairer voting redistricting while United To Amend was formed to drive for a Constitutional amendment that would, essentially, overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision. 

The decision, handed down on Jan. 21, 2010 — the same day of the year as Tuesday’s LdF town board meeting — overruled the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain/Feingold Bill. 

That legislation put substantial limits on campaign fundraising, but the “Citizens United” ruling did away with much of what had been put in place by McCain/Feingold. 

During the course of the nearly hour long special meeting, the town board took action on the requests individually, with town chairman Matt Gaulke voting against both. 

Aside from expressing concern about efforts to limit free speech with the United To Amend proposal, Gaulke felt there should be involvement from the state legislature.

“Has your group contacted or lobbied the state legislators who would actually have the say in this?” he asked Lac du Flambeau resident and United To Amend volunteer Kay Hoff. “Or looked at a statewide referendum? Which I think, instead of picking pieces of fruit from the tree in certain areas ... don’t you think it should maybe be a statewide thing? ”

“Eventually,” Hoff responded. “If you go back in history, in order to get to that level, it generally starts with individual people ... it’s always started with pressure from people.”

As a couple other towns have done in the past few months, the Lac du Flambeau Town Board went with questions worded differently from what was being proposed by both groups. 

And, as has also been the case at the meetings of other town boards, volunteers for The Fair Elections Project and United To Amend — at Tuesday’s meeting, Lac du Flambeau resident Denise Goetter and Hoff — indicated there wasn’t an issue with the Lac du Flambeau Town Board adopting questions as approved recently by Hazelhurst Town Board. 

In fact, Goetter and Hoff provided copies of what will appear on the Hazelhurst ballot, referendum questions formulated by the Hazelhurst town attorney Greg Harrold based on the material from United To Amend and the Fair Elections Project.

Harrold is also Lac du Flambeau’s town attorney. 

The approval of the questions by the Lac du Flambeau Town Board is also contingent upon Harrold’s review of them. 

The wording of the United To Amend question in Lac du Flambeau will read:

“Resolved, that the town of Lac du Flambeau supports passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution limiting the total amount of monetary contributions that can be given to candidates for public office and limiting the total amount of funds that candidates for public office may spend in elections.”

Voters are given the choice of yes or no. 

The redistricting question, also with a yes or no choice, will read on Lac du Flambeau ballots as:

“Resolved, that the town of Lac du Flambeau insists on the creation of a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected].

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