Wisconsin Democrats are today calling on Ron Johnson to join Russ Feingold in signing a Badger Pledge to keep super PAC and shady special interest money out of the U.S. Senate race.

This morning, Russ Feingold asked Ron Johnson to join him in signing a Badger Pledge, modeled after a successful agreement in Massachusetts between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, that would ensure the Senate race remains focused on the issues, values, and ideals that unite us as Wisconsinites.

The Badger Pledge would prevent any third party organization from airing TV, radio, or online ads considered to be an independent expenditure or issue advocacy for the duration of the 2016 Wisconsin U.S. Senate election.

Should a group spend money on behalf of either campaign, the subject campaign would pay 50% of the cost of the advertisement to a charity of the opposing candidate's choice.

“As I talk to voters all over the state, whether it’s a Democrat who owns a small business or a Republican community leader, I’ve never once heard someone say they want to see in our elections more mudslinging from third parties funded by unlimited, anonymous donations,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said Friday. “That’s why I’m calling on Ron Johnson to join Russ Feingold in signing the Badger Pledge -- there is broad bipartisan support for limiting the influence of money in politics. I hope Ron Johnson is committed to keeping the Senate race focused on the issues that matter to Wisconsinites.”

The text of the Badger Pledge is here:

The Badger Pledge

Third-party organizations, many funded by national special interests outside Wisconsin, plan to create, air, and publish independent expenditure advertisements attacking or supporting Senator Ron Johnson or Senator Russ Feingold in an attempt to influence Wisconsin's 2016 Senate race.

The organizations planning to create, air, and publish these advertisements may include: 501(c) organizations, so-called super PACs, state and national party committees, labor unions, and corporations using millions of dollars of either disclosed or anonymous money to influence the outcome of the 2016 Senate race in Wisconsin. Most of these organizations are neither managed or funded by citizens of Wisconsin.

Both Senator Johnson and Senator Feingold have publicly stated that they cannot directly control the independent organizations that support them or oppose their opponent.

The candidates also agree that in the past five years, Wisconsin especially has seen a massive amount of outside spending from third-party, national organizations attacking and supporting both Democratic and Republican candidates in Wisconsin.

Both candidates agree that a bipartisan agreement between the candidates is the only way to keep the 2016 Senate race about the voters of Wisconsin, and reduce the importance of these organizations on both the left and right The agreement includes an enforcement mechanism modeled from the successful bipartisan agreement used in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race.

Candidates Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold agree to the following:

  • If a third party organization airs or publishes any independent expenditure advertisement on TV, radio, online that supports or promotes either specified candidate, the supported candidate's campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the advertisement buy to a charity of the opposing candidate's choice.

  • If a third party organization airs or publishes any independent expenditure advertisement on TV, radio, online that attacks or opposes either specified candidate, the opposing candidate's campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the advertisement buy to a charity of the opposed candidate's choice.

  • If a third party organization airs or publishes any issue advocacy advertisement on TV, radio, online, that does not include "express advocacy," but does otherwise support or promote either specified candidate, the supported candidate's campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the advertisement buy to a charity of the opposing candidate's choice.

  • If a third party organization airs or publishes any issue advocacy advertisement on TV, radio, online, that does not include "express advocacy," but does otherwise attack or oppose either specified candidate, the opposing candidate's campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the advertisement buy to a charity of the opposed candidate's choice.

  • The Candidates agree not to coordinate with any third party on any issue advocacy advertisements for the duration of the 2016 election cycle. In the event that either Candidate coordinates any issue advocacy advertisement with a third party organization that Candidate's campaign shall pay 50% of the cost of the ad buy to a charity of the opposing Candidate's choice.