Settlement Schedules

The Commission uses the settlement schedules listed below to expeditiously enforce and discharge violations of campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws. The Commission's authority to make settlement offers is set out in Wis. Stat. § 19.49(1)(b). The Commission's primary interest is providing timely and accurate information to the public, and any collection of civil penalties is secondary. The Commission will specify settlement amounts for certain violations as set out below and may compromise and settle those matters without formal investigation. When addressing violations, the Commission will consider mitigating or exacerbating circumstances, and may adjust penalties accordingly.  If an individual or committee chooses not to accept a settlement offer, the Commission may bring a civil action and seek the maximum forfeitures provided by law, including costs and attorneys' fees.

Campaign Finance Standard Settlement Schedules 

Late Filing of Continuing Campaign Finance Reports

(Calendar) Days Late:First Violation:Second or Greater Violation:
0-30WarningWarning
31-60$100$200
61-90$200$300
91-120$300$400
Over 120$500$500

 

Filing deadlines are set by Wis. Stat. §§ 11.0204, 11.0304, 11.0404, 11.0504, 11.0604, 11.0704, 11.0804, and 11.0904. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalty is $500 plus the greater of $50 or one percent of the annual salary of the office sought for each day of delinquency.

Late Filing of Pre-Primary, Pre-Election, and Special Post-Election Reports

(Business) Days Late:Settlement Amount:
1$100
2$150
3$200
4$250
5$300
6$350
7$400
8$450
9$500

Filing deadlines are set by Wis. Stat. §§ 11.0204, 11.0304, 11.0404, 11.0504, 11.0604, 11.0704, 11.0804, and 11.0904. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalty is $500 plus the greater of $50 or one percent of the annual salary of the office sought for each day of delinquency.

Late Payment of Annual Filing Fees

(Calendar) Days Late:Settlement Amount:
1-15Warning
16-45$300
46-90$500
91 or more$800

 

Fees are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.0102(2). Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400(4). Maximum penalty is $800.

Late/Incomplete Filing of 72-Hour Reports

Late/Incomplete ReportingSettlement Amount:
5% of the total amount of unreported contribution ​

                                                                                   

Filing requirements for 72-hour reporting are set by Wis. Stat. §§ 11.0204(7), 11.0304(7), 11.0505, 11.0605, and 11.1001. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalty is $500 for each reporting violation.

Incomplete Contribution Information

Calendar Days Late:Settlement Amount:
Up to 30 days from staff contactWarning
31+ days from staff contact$100 plus 10 percent of contributions with incomplete information

                                                           

Reporting requirements are set by Wis. Stat. §§ 11.0204, 11.0304, 11.0404, 11.0504, 11.0604, 11.0704, 11.0804, and 11.0904. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalty is $500 per reporting violation.

Cash Balance Discrepancies

Calendar Days Late:Settlement Amount:
Up to 30 days from staff contactWarning
31+ days from staff contact$100 plus 10% of discrepancy

                                                                                               

Reporting requirements are set by Wis. Stat. §§ 11.0204, 11.0304, 11.0404, 11.0504, 11.0604, 11.0704, 11.0804, and 11.0904. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalty is $500 per unreported transaction that led to the discrepancy.

Exceeding Contributions Limits

Violation Type:           Settlement Amount:
Receiving Excess ContributionAmount of excess contribution
Furnishing Excess ContributionIf receiving committee forfeits full amount of excess contribution, $0; else, case-by-case basis

 

Contribution limits are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1101. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400. Maximum penalties for the receiving committee are $500, plus surrendering the amount of the excess contribution. Maximum penalties for the contributor are $500 plus treble the amount of the portion of the contribution that exceeds the maximum. There shall be no violation if excess or improper contributions are returned within 15 days after the filing date for the reporting period in which the contribution is received as provided by Wis. Stat. § 11.1110(2)(b).

Prohibited Corporate Contributions

Violation Type:           Settlement Amount:
Receiving Committee1.5 times amount of contribution
Corporate Contributor1.5 times amount of contribution

 

Corporate contributions are limited by Wis. Stat. § 11.1112. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 11.1400(1) and (3). Maximum penalty for the receiving committee is $500 plus surrendering the amount of the unlawful contribution. Maximum penalty for the corporate contributor is three times the amount of the contribution. There shall be no violation if excess or improper contributions are returned within 15 days after the filing date for the reporting period in which the contribution is received as provided by Wis. Stat. § 11.1110(2)(b).

Prohibited Lobbyist Contributions

Violation Type:Settlement Amount:
Receiving CommitteeReturn of the contribution to the lobbyist
Lobbyist Contributor1.5 times amount of contribution, up to $1,000

                                   

Lobbyist contributions are limited by Wis. Stat. § 13.625. Penalties are set by Wis. Stat. § 13.69(2). Maximum penalty for the receiving committee is $1,000, plus surrendering the amount of the unlawful contribution. Maximum penalty for the lobbyist is $1,000. Limitation on lobbyist contributions are set out in Chapter 13 but the settlement offer schedule is set out here. There shall be no violation if excess or improper contributions are returned within 15 days after the filing date for the reporting period in which the contribution is received as provided by Wis. Stat. § 11.1110(2)(b).

Lobbying Standard Settlement Schedules

Unauthorized Lobbying

Before engaging in lobbying on behalf of a principal, a lobbyist or the principal must obtain authorization for the lobbyist to represent the principal. Wis. Stat. § 13.65.

 First Session of Unauthorized Lobbying
Subsequent Session of Unauthorized Lobbying

Aggregate Total

Maximum

Lobbyist$100 per excess communication$200 per excess communication$1,000 per principal
Principal$200 per excess communication$400 per excess communication$2,000 per lobbyist

 

Lobbyists with no prior instances of unauthorized lobbying within a three-year period may be offered a settlement of $100 per excess communication that occurred that session on behalf of that principal. Lobbyists with prior instances of unauthorized lobbying within the past three-year period may be offered a settlement of $200 per excess communication. Settlements offered to lobbyists for this type of violation will not exceed an aggregate total of $1,000 per principal.

Principals with no prior instances of unauthorized lobbying within a three-year period may be offered a settlement of $200 per excess communication that occurred that session on behalf of that principal. Principals with prior instances of unauthorized lobbying within the past three-year period may be offered a settlement of $400 per excess communication. Settlements offered to principals for this type of violation will not exceed an aggregate total of $2,000 per lobbyist. 

Late Payment of Lobbying Fees

The lobbyist is responsible for the payment of their lobbyist license fee and the principal for the fees associated with the principal registration and lobbyist authorization. Wis. Stat. §§ 13.6313.75.

Days LateLobbyistPrincipal
1-15WarningWarning
16-30$100$200
31-45$200
$400
46+$300$600


Late filing of semi-annual lobbying report (§13.68) – maximum penalty $5,000.

Days LateFirst OffenseSecond or Greater Offense
2 business daysNo penaltyWarning
3-5 daysWarning$50
6-15 daysWarning$100
16-29 days$50$250
30+ days$100$500

 

Late reporting of the first communication on a lobbying matter.

Late ReportsPercent of Total EffortForfeiture
1st Occurrence of Late Reported Interest< 10 percentWarning
​1st Occurrence of Late Reported Interest>= 10 percent$25 Per Interest
2nd Occurrence of Late Reported Interest< 10 percent$50 Per Interest
​2nd Occurrence of Late Reported Interest>= 10 percent$100 Per Interest
3rd or Greater Occurrence of Late Reported InterestAny$100 Per Interest

 

Lobbying principals are required by Wis. Stat. §13.67(1) to report each legislative proposal, budget bill subject, or lobbying topic through the Eye On Lobbying website within 15 days of the first communication on that matter. Wis. Stat. §13.69(2m) outlines the penalties for late reporting of lobbying activity. The maximum penalty is up to $25 for the first offense within a three-year period and up to $100 for a second and subsequent offense within three years from the first violation.

Statements of Economic Interests Standard Settlement Schedule and Waiver Policy

 

Filing of Statements of Economic Interests, Wis. Stat. § 19.43.

Requests for Extensions of time under Wis. Stat. § 19.43(8)

By statute, officials may request an extension of the deadline to file a Statement of Economic Interests. When an official requests an extension, staff will ask for the request in writing. For reasons of administrative efficiency, staff will grant requests for extensions for 15 days or less. If the official's request is for more than a 15-day extension, staff will grant an extension of 15 days and inform the official that their request for further extension will be presented at the next Commission meeting, along with information on when the official's Statement was filed. If the Commission grants the request for further extension, no penalty will be assessed. If the Commission denies the request for further extension, and the official filed a Statement more than 15 days after the original deadline, the official will be assessed a penalty for late filing under section (d). Staff will not grant extensions to candidates for office required to file a Statement under Wis. Stat. § 19.43(4).

Requests for Waivers under Wis. Stat. § 19.43(8)

When an official requests a waiver from filing all or part of their Statement, staff will ask for the request in writing. Staff will inform the official that their request for waiver will be presented at the next Commission meeting, along with information on whether part or all of the official's Statement has been filed. If the Commission grants the request for waiver, the official will not be required to file the portion of the Statement that was waived. If the Commission denies the request for waiver, the official will be notified of that denial. If the official fails to file all required information within 15 days of that notification, penalties will be assessed under section (d).

 

Failure to Timely File by Candidates for State Public Office under Wis. Stat. § 19.43(4)

A candidate required to file a Statement that fails to meet the deadline set out in Wis. Stat. § 19.43(4) will be denied ballot placement, and no financial penalty will be assessed.

Failure to Timely File by Officials and Nominees under Wis. Stat. § 19.43(1), (2) and (3)

If an official or nominee is required to file a Statement by Wis. Stat. § 19.43(1), (2), or (3) and fails to file a Statement within 15 days after written notice from staff, the recommended settlement amount will be $100. This penalty will increase by $100 every two weeks, up to a maximum of $500. If any filer disputes the recommended settlement amount, the issue will be brought to the commission for a decision. In addition, f an official or nominee fails to file a statement within 30 days, staff will notify the officials identified in Wis. Stat. § 19.43(7), and instruct the employer to withhold compensation to the individual until the Statement has been filed.

 

Type of OfficialDays LateResult
Candidate0+N/A – Candidate denied ballot placement
Other Official0-15Warning
Other Official16+$100 plus $100 every 15 days
Other Official30Compensation temporarily withheld per § 19.43(7)

 

Standards for waiver of financial disclosure requirements

Introduction

Wisconsin's Code of Ethics for State Public Officials requires approximately 2,500 state officials to file a Statement of Economic Interests on an annual basis. Wis. Stat. §§ 19.43 and 19.44. In general, the requirement applies to all state elected officials, top agency management, legislative service agency employees, and all gubernatorial appointments requiring Senate confirmation, as well as to candidates for state elective office.

The purpose of financial disclosure is twofold: (1) To give the public confidence that a state official is not acting in matters in which the official has a personal financial interest; and (2) To annually make an official think about the official's economic ties so that the individual may avoid conflicts.

Nonetheless, Wis. Stat. § 19.43(8) provides that the Ethics Commission may waive any financial disclosure requirement:

Wis. Stat. § 19.43(8) On its own motion or at the request of any individual who is required to file a statement of economic interests, the commission may extend the time for filing or waive any filing requirement if the commission determines that the literal application of the filing requirements of this subchapter would work an unreasonable hardship on that individual or that the extension of the time for filing or waiver is in the public interest. The commission shall set forth in writing as a matter of public record its reason for the extension or waiver.

The Commission adopts and will apply the following considerations on a case-by-case basis in determining whether or not to grant a waiver of any disclosure requirement.

The position held by the official requesting a waiver.

Elected officials – Because such individuals generally exercise broad powers and in choosing whether or not to run for office an individual can take financial disclosure requirements into consideration, the Commission will closely scrutinize whether it will grant a waiver.

Full-time appointed officials – Because top management officials also exercise broad powers, albeit in narrower areas than elected officials, the Commission will closely scrutinize whether it will grant a waiver.

Part-time appointed officials – Part-time officials do not exercise the broad powers that elected and full-time officials do. They generally oversee Commissions with limited jurisdiction and are more likely than full-time officials to have other jobs and active business interests. Such individuals' service on state Commissions is a public service for which they receive little remuneration and, if disclosure would interfere with an individual's perceived ability to carry on the individual's private economic endeavors, it could lead to an unwillingness to serve.

Employees with limited decision-making power – Some agencies, such as the Ethics Commission, The Elections Commission, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Legislative Audit Bureau, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, require all employees, or all non-clerical employees, to file a statement. These employees may have relatively little control over regulatory and financial matters, and waiver may present less of a threat to the public interest.

For any official, the Commission will weigh heavily the relationship between the official's governmental duties and the nature of the economic interests that the official does not want to disclose.

The importance of confidentiality with respect to the economic interest sought to be protected.

While the Code of Professional Conduct does not prohibit an attorney from disclosing clients on a Statement of Economic Interests lawyers are justifiably sensitive to this, especially with respect to clients where the official's representation is not generally known. The Commission will give great weight to this concern. Countervailing considerations to granting a waiver are: (1) whether a client engages in activity related to the official's regulatory responsibilities; and (2) the extent to which the official's representation is known to others.

For a start-up business or in a competitive business situation, the disclosure of customers may be detrimental. The Commission will give weight to this consideration, but the harm claimed should not be simply speculative.

It is unlikely that a relationship with non-Wisconsin entities could present a conflict of interest situation for an official. This appears to be recognized by Wis. Stat. §19.44 (1) (b) which provides that an ownership interest in a company not doing business in Wisconsin is not required to be disclosed. The Commission will give great weight to this factor.

The Commission will give great weight to confidentiality requirements imposed by other sources of law.

The number of interests an official has.

If an official has a great many interests to report, reporting may create a heavy administrative burden on the official. Moreover, it may be that no particular customer, client, or business interest is important if an official has very many such interests. The Commission will consider this as a factor in determining whether to grant a waiver.

Conclusion

The Commission believes that waivers should be granted cautiously and rarely. No one is compelled to be a state public official – it is always voluntary and the reporting requirements should be known up front. On the other hand, it would be unfortunate if the reporting requirements discouraged an individual from entering public service or had a detrimental effect on an official's economic standing. The Commission views the above considerations as part of a sliding scale of factors. An applicant for waiver should be able to show that undue hardship is not simply speculative. And a requester should establish a showing of hardship by clear and convincing evidence. When the Commission grants a waiver, it will condition it on the requirement that an official recuse himself or herself from any matter that involves or impacts the entity that has not been disclosed whether or not a statutory conflict would otherwise exist.