When I first saw the title of this post, I thought of something completely different. I figured that because the Government Accountability Board can regulate third party ads, it was cracking down on front-groups for Barrett and Walker who were running ads for them under the guise of a non-partisan newsletter or something of the sort.
But alas, that has nothing to do with it.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker are suspending their online newsletters to comply with state election rules.
The state bars elected officials from using taxpayer dollars to distribute newsletters in the months leading up to an election.
This is an interesting rule I didn't know about. It makes sense, but one might wonder if good government is sacrificed in the process. Why is a newsletter any different than a press release? Are elected officials shamelessly partisan in their newsletters but simply fulfilling their duties during the countless photo-ops, press conferences and other attention-grabbers they hold?
I guess the difference would be that the newsletter is sent out to constituents, whereas the other things are technically not. Nevertheless, like most election rules, this one highlights the thin line between a giving political actors the benefit of doubt and conflicts of interest. Media organizations are the same. Could I start a newspaper dedicated to promoting a political cause or candidate and claim it to be exempt from regulation? Where do we draw the line?