Coming off great Fox News Radio interviews about the federal budget, we made it through a winter storm surrounding the State Capitol Tuesday to address three really bizarre attacks. We sum them up below as the "Tall David," "Public Bribery," and "Not Snoopy" arguments showing why none of them make sense.
If you are interested in the interviews across the country regarding the budget, we will post some in the days ahead - but you can also click on stations that had us on the air the last few days such as WTVN in Columbus, WFLA in Orlando, FL; KARN in Little Rock, Arkansas; WAAV in Wilmington NC; KURV in McAllen TX, KPNW in Eugene OR and WJR in Detroit. The next radio tour starts on February 13.
Our deepest heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family of the 6th grader shot in the school shooting in Perry, Iowa. We were scheduled to go on the air in nearby Des Moines just as the tragic news was breaking.
Testimony Amid the Snow
Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections
Prepared Testimony - Actual Testimony Shortened Due to Time Limits
"Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I’m John Pudner. President of Take Back Our Republic Action, based here in Wisconsin. Take Back was formed to address concerns with the rules of elections I saw while running Republican legislative takeovers in all 3 states in which I lived before returning to Wisconsin. Final 5 solves one of the five top election problems I outlined in a recent NewsMax column I will supply with my written testimony.
While I’m sure those of you opposing Final 5 do it because you have real concerns, I want to focus on the three most bizarre arguments I heard against Final 5 at the Senate hearing and during my dozens of meetings and speeches around the state. Hopefully this will address your concerns as well.
The 1st of 3 bizarre arguments I will call the “Tall David” argument. This is the argument of groups that oppose Wisconsin Final 5 attacking pro-Final 5 groups who spend $3.1 million a year – which is roughly 4% of the $73.5 million a year those opposition groups are spending. That’s like Goliath complaining that David was too tall.
It just so happened that when opponents started making this charge at the Senate Hearing, we had just finished our accounting for the year and Take Back Our Republic Action’s entire budget in 2023 was less than $200,000. I looked up all the other groups lobbying for Final 5 in Wisconsin and our total annual budgets are $3.1 million.
For comparison, I looked up all the groups registered to lobby against Final 5 and those who signed the letter opposing Final 5 (amac.us 11/16/2023) and added up their annual budgets and they spend $73.5 million dollars a year. I am providing those public numbers in my written testimony - and they are all public so anyone watching knows that groups trying to stop Wisconsin Final 5 have 23 times as much money as those of us lobbying in favor of it.
To be clear, I am not attacking the anti-Final 5 groups for having $73.5 million a year and being able to hire so many people – like the many they flew to Wisconsin to testify in the Senate Hearing. I agree with those groups on most other issues.
While I'm sure no legislator who is already opposed to Final 5 has reached that position because of the Goliath-like $73 million - the bizarre claim supporters reached that decision because of the David-like $3 million might indicate their arguments are simply not that strong.
The 2nd of the 3 bizarre arguments I will call the “Public Bribery” argument.
In Wisconsin alone, there were hundreds of millions of dollars spent to impact the 2022 elections. The money spent by pro-Final 5 groups? About 0.1% of that total. And unlike most political and policy spending, it was publicly reported to the state by Final 5 groups – transparently, so everyone could see it. It abided by campaign contribution limits.
To argue that these public, legal political contributions collected in a public conduit mainly from individual Wisconsinites who support Final 5, and which amounted to a paltry 0.1% of political and policy spending, were bribes meant to curry legislative support where none previously existed…this is ridiculous..
Note - in the original email, we incorrectly stated that Final Five political contributions constituted 1% of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to impact elections in Wisconsin. In fact, it wasn't nearly that much as we were off a decimal as Final Five political giving constituted 0.1% of all political spending in Wisconsin. In other words, only $1 of every $1000 political dollars spent in Wisconsin in 2022 were spent by Wisconsin Democracy Found, which supports Final Five.
To argue that these public, legal political contributions collected in a public conduit mainly from individual Wisconsinites who support Final 5, and which amounted to a paltry 1% of political and policy spending, were bribes meant to curry legislative support where none previously existed…this is ridiculous.
All attempts at bribery have one thing in common: it’s under the table.
In public filings you will see my biggest political contribution in the past year was $500 to Senator Duey Stroebel, with whom I agree with on 95% of all issues – even though he is the actual sponsor of the bill that would kill this measure.
That was my personal contribution, by the way. Take Back Our Republic Action does not give any political contributions or endorse any candidates, contrary to the nasty email I received after my Senate testimony.
In fact, if you look at our team page on takebackaction.org, you will see that our team has done real research to disclose illicit giving. Years ago, our GC researched hundreds of thousands of dollars given personally to another state’s Speaker of the House for his business and personal benefit – and that Speaker went to prison.
The 3rd of 3 bizarre arguments I will call the “Not-Snoopy” argument.
I heard a radio attack on me personally after the Senate Hearing, saying that supporting Final 5 while insisting that it not be called “Ranked Choice Voting” is like owning a beagle and insisting it not be called a “dog.”
I immediately called, texted and emailed the host – repeatedly – and had she answered, I would have noted that the analogy proves our point exactly:
Growing up, I was a big fan of Snoopy. One year, I dropped several hints that I wanted a beagle, just like Snoopy, for Christmas. If instead of writing “beagle” on my Santa list, I was only allowed to write “dog,” then I ran the very real risk of getting something other than a beagle – like, say, a pit bull. A far cry from the dog I received and did in fact name Snoopy.
A beagle is a dog, and a pit bull is a dog, but beagles are not pit bulls; it’s perfectly reasonable to like beagles and not pit bulls. So, too, it’s perfectly reasonable to like Final 5 and not other varieties of ranked choice voting.
Some of the many out-of-state people who testified against Wisconsin Final 5 last time talked about big groups spending a lot of money to support hundreds of other ranked choice voting systems in other states.
When I started advocating for Final 5 in another state a few months ago, I got a call from the lead ranked choice voting lobbyist telling me he would do everything in his power to kill any and all of my attempts to advance Final 5.
Soros-backed groups around the country have supported other ranked choice voting initiatives, but the liberal Democratic Senator and Governor in Nevada tried to kill Final 5. (To be fair, some Republicans also weren’t fans there. But others were… and it passed for the first time with the day that the same voters also defeated the liberal Governor who opposed Final 5.)
Just last week, one of the parties working to win support for Ranked Choice Voting in Wisconsin came out blasting Final 5.
So Ranked Choice Voting groups are attacking Final 5, and groups working to stop Ranked Choice Voting are attacking Final 5.
CS Lewis once used the analogy that if half the people said someone was too tall, and the other half said he were too short, it might be that the person was actually the perfect height.
I believe Final 5 is the perfect balance.
In the primary everyone gets a traditional ballot - not ranked - to eliminate most candidates such as the 11 candidates in Portland Maine where a candidate with 4% ending up winning, or the San Francisco ranked choice election with 21 candidates.
On the flip side, the Final 5 stops spoilers because it only allows ranking once you are down to five candidates. After my presentation in Appleton to a Patriot group some voters said they still would only vote for a Constitution Party candidate because they did not believe EITHER party was abiding by the Constitution - so not counting their vote once it is down to just a Republican or Democrat isn’t throwing their ballot in the trash - it’s honoring their wish to send a message to both parties.
However, many more Wisconsinites would have likely voted first for a great Wisconsin leader Joan Beglinger, if they knew they could show their support but then pick between Tony Evers and Tim Michels or whichever Republican was in the top two. So, in sum:
It’s not true to imply most of the money is with groups supporting Wisconsin Final 5 - for every dollar they spend in their annual budget, groups opposing WI Final 5 spend $23.
It’s not true to say there’s nefarious political support for Final Five Voting—there’s publicly reported individual support for those who are considered to be good legislators.
And it’s not true to say that Ranked Choice Voting is the same as Final Five Voting—we like Final 5 but not Ranked Choice Voting generally, and vice versa for Ranked Choice Voting supporters fighting Final 5.
Thank you for seeing through the bizarre “Tall David,” “Public Bribery” and “Not-Snoopy” arguments. Please look at the legislation itself in the months ahead and weigh pros and cons."
In addition to leaving the written testimony above with legislators, we also passed out a copy of this recent NewsMax piece: "Top 5 Election Changes Needed for 2024"