Billionaire makes $1.5 million dark money contribution to help Scott Walker, receives $1.8 million from Walker’s WEDC

According to this report by Yahoo! Politics Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff, Wisconsin billionaire John Menard Jr. gave $1.5 million to right-wing groups that kept his contribution a secret, only for Menard’s company to end up receiving $1.8 million in tax credits from WEDC, the job creation agency of which Gov. Scott Walker is the chairman.

John Menard Jr. is widely known as the richest man in Wisconsin. A tough-minded, staunchly conservative 75-year-old billionaire, he owns a highly profitable chain of hardware stores throughout the Midwest. He’s also famously publicity-shy — rarely speaking in public or giving interviews.

So a little more than three years ago, when Menard wanted to back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and help advance his pro-business agenda — he found the perfect way to do so without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News.

Menard’s previously unreported six-figure contributions to the Wisconsin Club for Growth — a group that spent heavily to defend Walker during a bitter 2012 recall election — seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company. In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records.

And in his five years in office, Walker’s appointees have sharply scaled back enforcement actions by the state Department of Natural Resources — a top Menard priority. The agency had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes.

Insanity: Doing The Same Thing In Iraq And Expecting A Different Outcome

Because of the bull headedness of the President George W Bush administration, the Iraqi Army of the Saddam Hussein era was disbanded after the US invasion of Iraq. Water over the dam except for it’s recurring costs to the Iraqi and American people…

So we reconstituted the Iraqi Army and armed and trained them and they collapsed under the assault from ISIS.

So now what are we doing? Well we are reconstituting and training Iraqi troops to repel ISIS and retake captured territory. Whey would we expect this to work the second time?

You want to build a wall around something? I suggest the middle east and let the neighbors sort it out.

John McCain Goes Stone Cold Tone Deaf

Last week President Obama visited a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Phoenix AZ. A hospital that has been the focus of issues with VA hospitals and healthcare. A hospital that is a long way from being ‘fixed’.

Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) was one of the other elected officials present during the presidents visit. Senator McCain was more than a little critical of the president and the lack of progress being made in getting the VA back on track:

Republicans who attended the session with the president, including Mr. Obama’s one-time presidential rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, are dismissive of the president’s claims. They say that reforms in the enormous veterans health care system have been sluggish, and that many of the leaders who presided over the scandal are still in place.

In a statement after the session, Mr. McCain said that the meetings “served more as a photo-op for the president than it did a meaningful discussion of the challenges our veterans continue to face in getting the timely health care they have earned and deserve.”

Senator McCain? SHUT UP! Despite a distinguished career in Washington and overcoming the injuries he suffered as a prisoner of war during Viet Nam…he’s off base on this one. He has been a US Senator since 1987 (28 years) and a US Congressman before that (4 years).

So Senator McCain is also culpable for the issues and shortcomings of Veterans’ Affairs. Flat out his responsibility as much as anyone in Washington. 32 years responsible.

The president wasn’t the only one having a photo op moment!

The child Scott Walker left behind?

During the 2012 gubernatorial recall election the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative ran a story alleging Gov. Scott Walker fathered a child in the late 1980s while he was still a student at Marquette University.

Bernadette Gillick was a college freshman in 1988 when she first met Scott Walker. It was spring semester, and she had just transferred to Marquette University. She was assigned a room in O’Donnell Hall (then a women’s dormitory), which she shared with her new roommate, Ruth (not her real name). Ruth was dating Scott Walker, who was 20 at the time, and, according to Bernadette, Ruth was deeply in love with him.

Midway through that spring semester, Bernadette alleges, Ruth found out she was pregnant. She informed her boyfriend, Scott, and initially he was supportive. Yet that support changed to callous indifference for his girlfriend’s predicament after Scott informed his parents of the pregnancy.

Bernadette reports that at this point Scott began denying that he was the father of the baby, and when Ruth said she was considering an abortion, he claimed he didn’t care, as he wasn’t the father anyway.

Bernadette remembers being present when Ruth was dealing with the wrath of Scott’s mother, who allegedly admonished Ruth for trying to “ruin [her son’s] reputation.”

“I supported her [Ruth] as he [Scott] went from encouraging her to get an abortion, to telling me it was in my best interest to keep my mouth shut, to denying that he was the father and having his own mother call her and tell her to stop erroneously accusing her son of paternity,” Bernadette recounts.

It was a “horrible time” for her friend. “Her life was changed tremendously and she took the high road in the face of incredible adversarial conditions. Imagine her being 18 years old and pregnant, walking around Marquette’s Jesuit Catholic campus with her boyfriend denying he was the father,” says Bernadette.

All this was taking place while Walker was running for student body president and serving as chair of the Marquette chapter of Students for Life.

According to Bernadette, Walker finally had to concede after the birth and paternity test, but “he hid everything he could and had little to do with the child.”

After consulting with her family, Ruth decided against an abortion. Bernadette was with Ruth in the hospital for the birth of her child later that year (and says Walker was not present), and later stood up as a bridesmaid in Ruth’s 1992 marriage to another man.

Why did Bernadette come forward with this story?

Dr. Bernadette Gillick is now a highly esteemed college professor and researcher at the Gillick Pediatric Research Lab at the University of Minnesota, specializing in brain plasticity and neurorehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy. Through her attorney, Mike Fargione, she issued a statement: “It is rare that you will ever hear from me on issues of politics… but I’m asking you to consider what I have to share …”

Bernadette recounts how, in the run up to the 2012 Wisconsin recall election, she watched a televised debate between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett. As Walker talked about his “lifelong integrity” her anger grew. This was a man who had abandoned his pregnant young girlfriend — completely turned his back on her at the most fragile point in her life. She notes his “now-convenient ‘pro-life’ proclamations” after burying his past “indiscretion.”

At the time WMC Coop ran their story, it was criticized by some as being purely speculative and having absolutely no basis in reality. However, in a followup story WMC Coop stuck to their guns and did not back down one bit from their original story, noting that their source Dr. Bernadette Gillick had hired and attorney and was prepared to defend the veracity of her account.

While I didn’t post about WMC Coop’s story back in 2012 and I can’t say with 100% certainty that the rumors of Scott Walker love child are true, I think it’s a story that merits further discussion and scrutiny, given the fact that Gov. Walker is running for president and based on information that’s been brought to my attention that may bolster the veracity of these claims (but more on that in a later blog post).

I know that some reports indicate the reporting of a Scott Walker love is absolutely not true, but based on my conversation with the author of the original report on WMC Coop, the individuals (mother & child) in their report are not the same individuals as the information I’ve obtained. As I noted above, I’ll have more on this story if and when I’m able to definitively confirm or debunk the veracity of the information that was provided to me.

Court Throws The Book At Voter Fraud!

After years of hearing how heinous voter fraud is during the various debates in support of Voter ID and the later court cases surrounding it’s implementation…it boggles my mind how the lawyer for an actual fraudulent voter says he got too severe a punishment. I mean really, 90 days of work release and 18 months of probation doesn’t seem too out of line for knowingly voting twice. And considering he voted at his regular polling place and also same day registered at a second site and voted again…it’s not like it was an accident or an oversight. It was plainly deliberate.

But there are some interesting side events to this case. First, in support of his case the attorney could only come up with 19 cases of double voting since 1991. And it isn’t inner city reprobates either:

(Assistant District Attorney Bruce) Landgraf agreed that (Todd M.) Murray came to court with positive social attributes, but also noted that the typical double-voting defendant in Milwaukee County had similar demographics — suburban male, educated, not politically active, with a good job and no criminal past.

Oops. Not what we have lead to expect if we listen to the folks in Madison simmering under the dome.

And just for the record, the article ends with a short synopsis of other voting irregularities that have been prosecuted:

Almost all the cases of double voting involve the same person casting ballots in more than one place, not casting one vote as themselves and another in someone else’s name, though that has happened.

The most recent case involves a Shorewood man charged with both forms of double voting. Robert Monroe has entered an insanity plea and his case is on hold while he undergoes a competency evaluation.

A 28-year-old man who said he was drunk and high when he voted twice got six months, and a 56-year-old man who was found guilty by a jury of voting twice was sentenced to 9 months for that and lesser voting violations to which he pleaded guilty.

The only one of these items that might have been prevented by Voter ID would be Mr. Monroe who voted using someone else’s name. But he’s pleading insanity.

Scott Walker Can’t Govern

We are all aware that Governor Scott Walker has rammed through tea party legislation with an unflagging zeal. And we know that he can stay focused on topic when giving his scripted speeches to hand picked audiences in closed to the public private venues. But very little has been said about his actual governing. But there have been some subplots in recent news articles that point to the governor’s actual inability to govern!

From Tuesday July 1, 2014: State Lists Properties It’s Considering Selling:

He advised members of 10 possible sales, but gave few other details. For instance, he did not provide them with the fair market value of the properties, even though a 2013 law required his agency to give that information to the Building Commission by Tuesday.

Now, that deadline was from a 2013 law? So it was one that he signed.

From June 30, 2014: Wisconsin officials discuss streamlining civil service rules:

In recent months, administration officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel multiple times that they weren’t looking to change the state’s century-old system for placing qualified workers in public service and weeding out partisan hacks.

But when the newspaper received records through the state open records law detailing the early-stage discussions, state officials acknowledged they were taking some early steps, saying that they hadn’t disclosed the planning previously because it is modest in scope.

This actually has more to do with the promise of more transparency…but then the governor has always had his own way with words.

From June 13, 2014: Scott Walker adds two more to new mental health board:

Gov. Scott Walker on Friday appointed two new board members to oversee mental health care in Milwaukee County — a substance abuse specialist and a consumer representative.

Walker missed the deadline Monday to make all of the appointments to the newly created board. He had named seven of 11 board members by Monday.

And then of course there is that jobs thing…and that budget shortfall/no budget surplus/no wait, I mean budget shortfall!

[I had one more very recent example…but I lost my notes…I’ll update when I get it]

Wisconsin Voter Fraud and Voter ID

I would like to thank long time reader and active commenter, forgotmyscreenname, for providing a link to the recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about recent charges brought against 10 area residents for voter fraud. After having read the article, I wanted to follow up with a few comments here.

Over the past decade, our Republican elected officials have been foaming at the mouth over the amount of voter fraud in the state of Wisconsin. Even after Republican Wisconsin Attorney General J B Van Hollen found virtually none after intense inspection of the 2008 Presidential election. And after a small number of citizens were prosecuted in the last few years for double voting: one couple at their previous address and at their current address and another couple via absentee ballot and again in person when conservative talk radio convinced them their absentee ballots wouldn’t be counted.

Clearly these were illegal activities and the individuals were charged as such. I don’t remember the final outcomes for any of the parties but I doubt anything earth shattering happened to anyone of them. But the Voter ID measure as originally passed would NOT have prevented either of these cases. All of these voters were registered under their own legal names and if asked for voter id would probably have been able to produce valid id.

Now we come to the ten new charges filed last week:

Leonard Brown voted twice…once in West Milwaukee via absentee ballot and once in Milwaukee…would voter id have prevented this? probably not…once he was registered he could cast both ballots with proper id.

Chad Gigowski voted twice…in Milwaukee and Greefield…he used a driver’s license with an old address to register in Greenfield…so he had id.

Brittany Rainey was a felon…voter id wouldn’t prevent her from voting…some other mechanism would be needed to track felons ineligible to vote.

Brian Uecker voted in his old ward where he no longer lived…voter id wouldn’t have prevented this

Fozia Nawaz voted in Greenfield because it was easier…since she was able to register…I would expect she would have a valid id to show when casting her ballot.

Bill Di Giorgio from Germantown voted in Milwaukee…story doesn’t explain the how or why…but if he had a photo id with his name it is unlikely he would have been prevented from voting.

The other charges were related to felons applying for jobs as voter registrars or signing recall petitions multiple times or fraudulently signing recall petitions…has nothing to do with casting ballots. So actually these shouldn’t even be considered voter fraud since they had nothing to do with actually casting ballots.

So we ended up with 6 apparent occurrences of fraudulent voting…6 out of 3,000,000 votes cast in the 2012 Presidential Election…that isn’t statistically significant. I am not even sure my little hand held calculator would provide the percentage!

Yet Rick Esenberg, a lawyer and part time Marquette Law School professor, decides to roil the waters yet again by using these pitiful examples in a renewed call for voter id laws…Professor Esenberg, you should be embarrassed. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel should be far more embarrassed for repeating it.

House Speaker John Boehner Throws Representative Paul Ryan Under the Bus or Not?

Speaker of the House, John Boehner continues to hold the line on the policies and positions that helped the GOP lose the election in 2012…saying it wasn’t the policies that the party espouses that are the problem…but the candidates and personalities that the party chose for their ticket! Huh? Isn’t the golden boy of austerity federal budgets and I haven’t actually implemented any of my past budgets so I’ll just send the same ole same ole out there again, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), one of the two candidates/personalities that cost them the election?

Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that election losses last November would not deter his party from pressing its vision of reducing the size of government and turning government health care programs largely over to the private sector — with no more tax increases.

In an interview, Mr. Boehner said that candidates and personalities — not Republican proposals on Medicare and spending cuts — accounted for the party’s defeats, taking a hard line on further budget talks even as Senate Republicans met with President Obama in a search for common ground.

“There are a lot of things that decide an election, especially the two candidates that you have, the personalities that they have, positions they have taken,” he said.

So which is it Speaker Boehner? Is candidate Paul Ryan the reason that President Obama returned to the White House or is Representative Paul Ryan the defender of the GOP holy grail in the house?

Whither MKE Cnty: I Suggest New Chats with the Chair!

Milwaukee County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic’s tour of Milwaukee county via her Chats with the Chair is a breath of fresh air for county residents. Instead of hiding in the moated community that is the County Courthouse like her predecessor, Chairwoman Dimitrijevic gave county residents a chance to meet her and hear her concerns about the future of Milwaukee County government. Although with the best intentions, I kept putting off attending the chats and I procrastinated until they were all over.

Unfortunately, immediately after she completed her tour, State Representative (and former County Supervisor) Joe Sanfelippo decided to single-handedly try to blow up the MKE County Board.

While reading comments to the various articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as well as comments on various discussions on Facebook and blog sites, it is apparent that many people don’t fully understand the role of county government. And I confess that I don’t know every area that the county is charged with maintaining. One commenter even asked what value he was getting for his county property taxes.

At this point I would suggest a new round of Chats with the Chair that wholly focus on the current functions and responsibilities of county government. If we are going to be forced to debate and to vote on the size of the board, we should make sure we have voters who are versed in county government.

And I would suggest that all county supervisors hold similar town hall meetings in their districts as soon as possible. There seems to be a great disconnect between the county and the voters…and that can be easily rectified before it’s too late.

a little side note: if you are so inclined to comment on any of my blogs about MKE County government, I’d appreciate if you’d indicate if you are a county resident or not