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Political Campaign Workers and Government Employees Should Remember Wisconsin’s Rules

June 25, 2008

MADISON, WI – Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) on Wednesday issued a reminder to state citizens engaging in campaign work this summer and fall to carefully observe the legal boundaries between campaigning and government.

As Wisconsin’s partisan primary approaches on September 9, candidates and campaign volunteers must remember that campaign activities may not be carried out in government buildings or with government resources. For example, campaign workers should not solicit in a government building:

• Campaign volunteers
• Signatures for nomination papers
• Campaign contributions

Section 11.36 (4) of Wisconsin statutes lists the prohibition against solicitation of contributions: “No person may enter or remain in any building, office or room occupied for any purpose by the state, by any political subdivision thereof….or send or direct a letter or other notice thereto for the purpose of requesting or collection a contribution.”

“The rules are clear: Only the public’s business must be done in public offices,” said Kevin Kennedy, G.A.B. Director and General Counsel. “Campaign activity is not appropriate in government offices, and it’s everyone’s job to maintain a clear line.”

Government employees who wish to carry out campaign work on their personal time must also be aware of the boundaries, Kennedy said. Government resources such as offices, telephones or e-mail may not be used by workers for campaign purposes.

“If the rules at first seem severe,” Kennedy added, “think about it in this context: If you saw a government worker doing campaign work that you opposed with resources paid for by your taxes, how would you feel?”