Caucus Scandal Redux

The Capitol Caucus scandal is in the news again, not the illegal campaigning done by the Walker campaign, the one run by convicted felon Scooter Jensen. This time Dane Count DA Ismael Ozanne has decided to bring bring Sherry Schultz to trial again.

Then there’s Sherry Schultz.

She’s the forgotten caucus staffer.

The ex-Assembly aide charged with a felony as part of the 2002 caucus investigation is just now gearing up for trial.

That’s right – Schultz is scheduled for a two-week trial in late November for misconduct in office, a charge originally brought against her nine years ago.

This would be her second trial on the same charge.

Making the situation even more bizarre is that Schultz has already served four months’ house arrest for that felony, which was later reversed on appeal.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is preparing to take the case to trial.

“We always look to settle cases – that’s what we typically do,” Ozanne said last week. “But that doesn’t mean you can resolve anything if people don’t want to resolve them.”

Schultz’s attorney, Stephen Morgan, declined to comment. Schultz couldn’t be reached. Friends say the former legislative aide is now working part time at a custard stand in Madison.

That’s quite a change for the 59-year-old Madison resident.

At the time of the caucus scandal, she was riding high.

A former chief of staff for then-Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum, Schultz took a job as a top aide to Foti and then with the now-defunct Assembly Republican Caucus, making $65,000 a year. She worked for Assembly Republicans from 1998 to 2001 before becoming the state Republican Party’s top fundraiser.

In 2002, prosecutors charged a number of lawmakers and staffers as part of their investigation into state employees illegally campaigning on taxpayers’ time. Authorities concluded that the partisan legislative caucuses were glorified campaign machines for their respective parties.

Prosecutors accused Jensen of putting Schultz on the public payroll to work full-time raising money for GOP candidates. In 2006, both Jensen and Schultz were convicted – he was hit with three felonies and a misdemeanor and she one felony – after a widely publicized trial.

While Schulz has only been able to find a part time gig selling custard(It appears that is all the majority of republican staffers appear to be qualified for), her bosses are living large.

Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen has a gig with a national school choice group. Former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti, another Republican, is lobbying his old buddies in the Capitol. And ex-Senate Majority Leader Brian Burke, a Democrat, has taken a job as a public defender.

While I am glad that the DA reopened this case, I hope Sherry Schultz gets the punishment she deserves(I dont think anyone involved has so far). I do however think she should not have to serve more time than her boss. I would love to see Scooter scooping custard also, instead of making hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to end public education. I also think its a travesty that Foti(and Scooter) are allowed in the Capitol at all, much less to lobby.

That all being said, the moral of this story is not don’t abuse your government position. The moral of this story is for the republican staffers at the Capitol. You can sell your soul for the republican legislators, but when you get caught – you are on your own! You will either end up making millions lobbying like scooter the felon or broke and scooping custard like Schultz.

Before you agree to do illegal or unethical things, maybe you should stop and think which one will you be if you get caught!

Republican Thugs Part 9 – Michael Moore Edition

In yet another version of our continuous Republican Thug series, comes probably the most disturbing one yet.

In an excerpt from his upcoming book \"Here Comes Trouble\", Michael Moore tells us some stories of republican hatred, violence and plain stupidity. He talks about random people attacking him, hiring Navy Seals to live with him to protect him and the toll it took on his family. I recommend reading the whole excerpt but here is an interesting story and a troubling one.

First the most troubling one:

And then there was Lee James Headley. Sitting alone at home in Ohio, Lee had big plans. The world, according to his diary, was dominated and being ruined by liberals. His comments read like the talking points of any given day’s episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show. And so Lee made a list. It was a short list of the people who had to go. At the top of the list was his No1 target: “Michael Moore”. Beside my name he wrote, “MARKED” (as in “marked for death”, he would later explain).

Throughout the spring of 2004, Headley accumulated a huge amount of assault weapons, a cache of thousands of rounds of ammunition, and various bomb-making materials. He bought The Anarchist’s Cookbook and the race-war novel The Turner Diaries. His notebooks contained diagrams of rocket launchers and bombs, and he would write over and over: “Fight, fight, fight, kill, kill, kill!”

But one night in 2004, he accidentally fired off a round inside his home from one of his AK-47s. A neighbour heard the shot and called the police. The cops arrived and found the treasure trove of weapons, ammo and bomb-making materials. And his hit list.

I got the call some days later from the security agency.

“We need to tell you that the police have in custody a man who was planning to blow up your house. You’re in no danger now.”

Secondly is one story that comes full circle. Moore discusses his Oscar Speech that drove the right crazy. He was booed and jeered immediately and as he tells it:

A little known fact: the first two words every Oscar winner hears right after you win the Oscar and leave the stage come from two attractive young people in evening wear hired by the Academy to immediately greet you behind the curtain. So while calamity and chaos raged on in the Kodak, this young woman in her designer gown stood there, unaware of the danger she was in, and said the following word to me: “Champagne?” And she held out a flute of champagne.

The young man in his smart tuxedo standing next to her then immediately followed up with this: “Breathmint?” And he held out a breathmint.

Champagne and breathmint are the first two words all Oscar winners hear. But, lucky me, I got to hear a third. An angry stagehand came right up to the side of my head, screaming as loud as he could in my ear: “ASSHOLE!”

Other burly, pissed-off stagehands started toward me. I clutched my Oscar like a weapon, holding it like a lone man trapped and surrounded in the woods, his only hope being the torch he is swinging madly at the approaching vampires. All I felt at that moment was alone, that I was nothing more than a profound and total disappointment.

Luckily, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 and this story comes full circle:

Eventually I found myself back on The Tonight Show for the first time in a while. As I was leaving the stage, the guy who was operating the boom microphone approached me.

“You probably don’t remember me,” he said nervously. “I never thought I would ever see you again or get the chance to talk to you. I can’t believe I get to do this.”

Do what? I thought. I braced myself for the man’s soon-to-be-broken hand.

“I never thought I’d get to apologise to you,” he said, as a few tears started to come into his eyes. “I’m the guy who ruined your Oscar night. I’m the guy who yelled ‘ASSHOLE’ into your ear right after you came off the stage. I … I … [he tried to compose himself]. I thought you were attacking the president – but you were right. He did lie to us. And I’ve had to carry this with me now all these years, and I’m so sorry …”

By now he was starting to fall apart, and all I could think to do was to reach out and give him a huge hug.

“It’s OK, man,” I said, a big smile on my face. “I accept your apology. But you do not need to apologise to me. You believed your president! You’re supposed to believe your president! If we can’t expect that as just the minimum from whoever’s in office, then, shit, we’re doomed.”

“Thank you,” he said, relieved. “Thank you for understanding.”

Dick Cheney

I do not have any interest on writing much about Dick but he did write a book and is now going to profit on his crimes. I personally think that Dick is one of the most vile human beings in our country and maybe my biggest disappointment in President Obama’s record is the fact that he has protected Dick. Because i have no interest at this time in rehashing the horrendous Bush Administration record, i will just share a column from one of my favorite writers William Rivers Pitt: ( I recommend the whole column but here is a highlight)

There is so much to remember about Dick Cheney’s time in office. There was the Office of Special Plans, which he created to formulate the most effective lies possible about Iraq, WMD, and connections to September 11. There was the torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which he referred to as “the dark side” and which he championed with great vigor. There was his dismissal of lawfully-issued congressional subpoenas, and his dedication to the idea of a “Unitary Executive” which is beholden to nothing and no one. There was his broad plan to spy on millions of Americans without a warrant, which he wanted to continue even after the whole thing was declared to be illegal. There was (and remains) the program of indefinite detention without due process of law, which was his baby, and there was the coddling of known criminal and double-agent Ahmed Chalabi, who was his pal.

There was all this, and so much more besides, but one incident stands out in my mind above all else. It was only an accent in the symphony of wrongdoing Cheney directed from his office, and was barely noticed at the time, but I will never forget it.

It was a simple thing, really: the National Archives, by dint of two different federal laws, annually collects the official papers of the Executive Branch for the edification of future historians, researchers and government officials. It is a by-rote requirement, one small cog in the wheelworks of government, but not this time.

Dick Cheney said no. No, you cannot have any papers from the office of the Vice President, and for one reason: the office of the Vice President, because I say so, is not part of the Executive Branch.

By the way, Lawrence Wilkerson wants Dick tried for his crimes, Colin Powell and Condi Rice can not stand him either.

Recounts vs. Voter ID: Why Is Democracy So Damn Expensive?

The vote recount for the Supreme Court race between incumbent Justice Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg is nearly over. The recount has been completed in 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Only Waukesha County is still methodically performing their hand count and has only managed to recount about one third of the ballots cast in the county for this race. The GAB originally required the recounts to be completed by today, May 9th, but a Dane County judge gave Waukesha County an extension through May 26th. Waukesha County is using a more rigid recount format than the other counties per an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Immediately after the April 5th General Election the right was very concerned about perceived voter irregularities in Dane and Milwaukee counties. At that point AAG Kloppenburg held a slim 204 vote lead. Everyone knew a recount was going to occur.

Then we had the Miracle of Waukesha County and counted but unreported ballots from the City of Brookfield saw the light of day. Thursday to be exact…two days after the election…and now Justice Prosser had a 7,316 vote lead, a margin of 0.48% of the total statewide vote. And now the left cries foul but during the post-election canvass it appears that the Waukesha County Clerk is inept and possibly negligent but not fraudulent. And as we know the state has made provisions for free recounts if the margin is less than 0.5% and of course AAG Kloppenburg’s campaign exercise there right and request a recount. The two campaigns negotiate on the method and breadth of the recount and it gets underway.

And once again the right screams because the recount is going to cost a lot of money and we are broke. Recounts have never changed an election outcome by more than a thousand votes so this is a waste of time and money. How dare AAG Kloppenburg be so greedy and selfish! Well we haven’t seen the real dollars and cents cost yet, but it very likely will exceed $1 million and may reach $2 million, which the right says we can ill afford. Well I have said it here and a number of other places. Democracy is messy. Democracy is expensive. And this time we need to spend the money and the time.

Will this recount change the outcome of the race? Not likely. But if we can put to rest the doubts about Dane County or Milwaukee County or Waukesha County it will be money well spent. And as we’ve seen a number of times this past week some local governmental authorities don’t necessarily follow procedure to the letter and questions have arisen during the recount process. Well here’s a good chance for everyone to examine their procedures. Here’s a good place for the GAB to reiterate and retrain on how to run an election effectively and legally. And maybe we can head off future issues, because it looks to me that the real threat of voter fraud isn’t the rogue single voter in the booth but the election official who isn’t being held properly accountable.

But here in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race we actually had a measurable margin that could be acted upon, 0.48%.

Then we get to Voter ID. The legislature is considering a bill this week that was reworked and approved today by the Joint Finance committee (the MJS article is here). This has been pointed out by many opponents, me included, as a solution looking for a problem. Our Attorney General J B Van Hollen spent considerable resources reviewing voter records in 2008 and I believe came up with under 30 instances of voter fraud out of 2,983,000 votes cast in the 2008 Presidential General Election. Using the 30 instances, the percent of vote fraud comes to 0.001%. Most of these cases were felons still on parole and probation who didn’t realize they weren’t yet allowed to vote. I believe there was an issue with someone who voted via absentee ballot and in person and a couple who had recently moved and voted at both their old address and their new address. These last two are the most egregious and were obvious conscious efforts to cast fraudulent ballots.

Now the Voter ID bill has been changed a number of times (the last version was discussed in MJS here on April 26th). It will require a registered voter to produce a valid picture id in order to cast a ballot. You can read the latest details here and I won’t go over every detail in this blog (if you are a glutton for punishment here’s one more).

So let’s go back to the voter fraud cases that the AG identified…felons not yet legally eligible to vote. Will a picture ID prevent them from voting? No. Someone who submitted an absentee ballot and shows up to vote in person, will a picture ID prevent them from casting a fraudulent ballot? No. What about the couple who voted at two polling places via two addresses? Will a picture ID prevent their illegal activity? No. Other mechanisms might but in every one of these cases a photo ID would prove they were in fact the people they claim to be and if on the voter rolls would be allowed to vote.

Now the biggest issue from the right on the recount is the cost to the tax payer because after all we are broke. From the April 26th MJS article, the ANNUAL cost to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be $2.7 million. And state election officials believe they will need $2.1 million dollars the first year to bring their computer systems up to speed. Nearly $5 million dollars for a problem that doesn’t exist and we haven’t even addressed the unfunded mandates to the municipalities who actually have to run the elections and enforce inspections of valid IDs and maintain the voter logs that every voter will be required to sign. Today’s MJS article says the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau thinks Voter ID will cost the state $6 million over the next two years.

So putting the minds of voters on the left and right at ease over the legitimacy of the Supreme Court race after both sides raised concerns isn’t worth $1.5 million but solving a problem that doesn’t exist for $5 million is reasonable? Really?

I won’t go into voter suppression in this blog…that’s another topic…but the linked articles will hit the high points if you want to start contemplating that conundrum in the privacy of you own home!

FWIW: Here’s an excerpt for the April 26th article on the voter fraud that was prosecuted in Wisconsin after the 2008 election:

A photo ID requirement could prevent voting in someone else’s name, but not the most common form of voter fraud – felons voting while on state supervision. The state Department of Justice and Milwaukee County district attorney’s office have prosecuted 20 cases of voter fraud from the November 2008 election. Eleven were cases of felons voting, six were cases of special registration deputies improperly registering people, two were cases of double voting, and one was a case of a husband obtaining an absentee ballot in the name of his deceased wife.

Paul Ryan is NOT listening…

Paul Ryan (R-Wall St.) had a listening session in Milton this morning. I have to give him credit for two things, 1. As bad as his message is, he does interact with the crowd(unlike Randy Hopper). 2. He stands up for the people who pay him. Despite the fact that he has totally devastated his district with his policies and budgets he has no shame in standing in front of them and telling them we need to keep redistributing money to Wall St. 17% Janesville unemployment be dammed!

Here is a quick video of Ryan’s meeting:

h/t think progress.

Also did I mention he has an opponent?

1st Congressional district

Full disclosure, I was working on a blog in January excoriating Mike Tate for the results of the last election and what he was planning for 2012. I was going to focus on the fact that I felt he has not been focusing on the 1st congressional district. After speaking with John Heckenlively, who ran against Ryan last year, and Marge Krupp, who was Ryan’s opponent in 2008. They both said they got no help from the national party and little help from the state party.

Then Scott Walker tried to take our rights away and everything changed. That being said, its time to stop giving Paul Ryan a free pass. We all know how bad of a representative Paul Ryan (R-Wall St) is. Since Ryan gives his handlers on Wall St. anything they want, he will always have unlimited money for his re-election campaigns. I feel the only way to beat Ryan is to run a long campaign. Since the Janesville Gazette has been an arm of the Ryan campaign, we need someone there to point out the ryan foibles. Someone to point out that ryan wants to end medicare as we know it and increase the deficit. Someone from the first district finally answered that call. Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban has announced his candidacy. Here he is speaking at the 1st congressional district in Janesville: