Obama campaign vets to charge aspiring politicos $5,000 for some training and campaign volunteering

http://www.buzzfeed.com/evanmcsan/270-strategies>Yeah, there’s absolutely nothing fishy about this…

Two top veterans of President Obama’s campaigns are asking political campaigners to pay $5,000 per person for the chance to learn their secrets and then work for five weeks in an unpaid campaign job somewhere in America.

Democratic operatives and progressive activists are questioning this training program launched by Obama campaign architects Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird. The $5,000 program promises access to the wizardry of Obama’s presidential bids — and a five-week, unpaid gig on an “important Democratic campaign.”

Run by Bird and Stewart’s consulting company, 270 Strategies, the new program’s emphasis on placing paying customers in essentially volunteer roles on Democratic campaigns is atypical in the campaign training industry, and some Democrats say it sets a dangerous precedent. The firm’s first-ever “270/360 Training Intensive” program is scheduled to begin in September.

Chris Abele cuts some checks to his favorite Republican

As first reported by Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a year after he gave the maximum contribution of $500 to Republican State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has made another maximum contribution to Sanfelippo’s campaign.

For years, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was a deep-pocketed liberal who used his moneybags to underwrite the campaigns of prominent Wisconsin Democrats.

Abele donated nearly $200,000 exclusively to Democratic candidates and parties — plus more to other liberal political groupssince 2000, according to state and federal records.

But that has changed.

The longtime lefty has discovered the Republican Party.

Late last year, he gave the maximum donation of $500 each to Republican Reps. Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield and Joe Sanfelippo of West Allis. Sanfelippo is running against liberal Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan.

Last month, Abele coughed up another $500 to Sanfelippo, new filings show. That puts Abele in company with Bradley Foundation CEO Michael Grebe, the ex-Republican National Committee general counsel and Gov. Scott Walker campaign chairman who gave Sanfelippo the same sum five days after Abele.

While I’m not surprised by Abele’s second maximum contribution to Joe Sanfelippo, I am disappointed, because I had hoped (perhaps naively) that as a Democrat Abele wouldn’t continue to directly assist Republican efforts to keep their hold on the majority in the State Assembly, despite the work done by Republicans to help Chris Abele cut the County Board down to part-time status.

Wisconsin progressives: the original Tea Partiers

Over at The Atlantic, Michael Wolraich has an excellent article outlining how Wisconsin progressives like “Fighting Bob” La Follette were the original Tea Party challenging the political status quo.

If “Fighting Bob” were alive today, he’d be howling in the Capitol. A hundred years before the Tea Parties, Senator Bob La Follette of Wisconsin was the original Republican insurgent. In the early 1900s, he led a grassroots revolt against the GOP establishment and pioneered the ferocious tactics that the Tea Parties use today—long-shot primary challenges, sensational filibusters, uncompromising ideology, and populist rhetoric. But there was a crucial difference between La Follette and today’s right-wing insurgents: “Fighting Bob” was a founding father of the progressive movement.

A century ago, the country struggled with challenges similar to our own—economic inequality, financial instability, low wages, and environmental devastation. The two major political parties, both corrupt and dominated by corporations, crushed reformers’ efforts to remedy the nation’s problems. Even President Theodore Roosevelt was powerless to push serious reform bills through Congress.

Unlike Roosevelt, La Follette did not believe that reform was possible under the prevailing political order. He insisted that the system must become more democratic and the parties be made accountable to the people. His political insurgency began as a forlorn and hopeless campaign, scorned by the party establishment, mocked by the press, and dismissed by Roosevelt. A decade later, it brought the once-dominant Republican Party to its knees and initiated the greatest period of political change in American history.

Inside the numbers: the money race in the 20th Assembly district

As I mentioned in another post, Monday night was the deadline for campaigns across Wisconsin to file their campaign finance reports for the period spanning from January to July, and so I’ve been like a kid on Christmas morning.

Given my interest in the race in the 20th Assembly district, where three Republicans are vying to be their party’s candidate against incumbent Democratic Rep. Chris Sinicki, I figured I’d take a look at how much money each of the candidates raised and spent over the past six months.

Rep. Sinicki, the Democratic incumbent, raised just $375 in individual contributions during the reporting period, but she ended the reporting period with a cash balance of $11,094.

Among Sinicki’s Republican challengers, Mike Pierce raised the most in individual contributions, netting $17,975.69 in individual contributions. However, that total is deceiving, as $15,100 of that total came from Pierce’s own pocket in the form of loans and a contribution Pierce made to his own campaign. Pierce raised just $2,875 from individuals not named Mike Pierce, and he ended the reporting period with 9,048.91 cash on hand.

Factoring out Mike Pierce’s loans to his campaign, Cudahy Alderman Justin Moralez, seen by some as the best candidate to oust Rep. Sinicki due to the perception that he’s more moderate than his Republican opponents, actually raised slightly less money from individual contributions than Pierce. Moralez raised $3,407.75 in individual contributions, but $1,050 of that total came in the form of personal loans Moralez made to his own campaign. Moralez ended the reporting period with a cash balance of $635.29.

Molly McGartland, the perennial candidate who ran against Rep. Sinicki in 2010 and 2012, raised just $950 and ended the reporting period with a cash balance of just $455.66.

While there’s certainly more to winning a political campaign than raising money, the fact that the Republicans vying to unseat Rep. Sinicki have had such difficulty raising funds for their campaigns tells me that their chances of defeating her aren’t as good as some conservatives would think.

Mary Burke pulls ahead of Gov. Scott Walker in very close Marquette poll

The newest Marquette University poll came out today, and having seen the results, it’s no wonder Gov. Scott Walker has unleashed a barrage of negative attack ads against Democratic frontrunner Mary Burke.

Among likely voters, Burke led Walker, 47% to 46%.

While those numbers are still well within the Marquette poll’s margin of error (+ or – 3.5%), it’s notable that in the May Marquette University poll Gov. Walker led Burke among likely voters by 48% to 45%.

Obviously there’s a lot of time between now and November’s election, but the fact that Mary Burke has shown positive progress in the face of blistering attacks by Gov. Walker is certainly an encouraging sign.

Scott Walker’s flip-flop on outsourcing

Back in 2012, Gov. Scott Walker shared his thoughts about what he thought of President Barack Obama’s attacks on his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, over the issue of outsourcing.

At the time, Walker made it clear that he felt President Obama was attacking Romney on outsourcing to distract voters from President Obama’s poor job performance, saying, “The president’s team desperately does not want to run on his record, so they are desperately trying to have it about anything other than his record.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and Gov. Walker, in a desperate attempt to distract voters from his broken job creation promise, has started running ads attacking Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Mary Burke for supposedly profiting from outsourcing done by Trek.

It’s amazing what two years – and his own failed job creation record – will do to change Gov. Walker’s mind when it comes to outsourcing as a political attack.

What’s going on with Ismael Ozanne’s campaign finances?

Today was a little bit like Christmas here at Blogging Blue HQ. After all, last night was the deadline for campaigns to file their July 2014 Continuing Reports outlining their campaign contributions and expenses since January 2014.

Ismael Ozanne headshotAs I perused the July Continuing Report for Democratic Attorney General candidate Ismael Ozanne (pictured, left) I was left with questions.

For instance, according to the Continuing Report filed by Ozanne’s campaign in January 2014, his campaign had an ending cash balance for that reporting period of $50,930 – but his campaign curiously started the next reporting period with a cash balance of $61,564. Those numbers should match up, leaving me to wonder why there’s a discrepancy of $10,634 between those two numbers.

And speaking of discrepancies, Ozanne’s July Continuing Report included $19,262 in expenses itemized as checks or ATM withdrawals without any additional details outlining what those checks or ATM withdrawals paid for. That’s no small amount of money, and per Wisconsin campaign finance laws, campaigns must describe the specific political purpose of every expenditure. There are no descriptions for any of the checks or ATM withdrawals made by the Ozanne campaign, leaving unanswered questions about what those expenditures were used for.

And finally – and perhaps most telling – while the Ozanne campaign’s January Continuing Report listed J. Corkey Custer as the campaign’s treasurer, the campaign’s July Continuing Report lists Ismael Ozanne as the treasurer. It’s unusual to see a statewide campaign switch treasurers mid-race, and given the questions surrounding the Ozanne campaign’s most recent finance report, it’s all the more unusual.

I emailed the Ozanne campaign to attempt to get answers to some of the questions pertaining to the campaign’s most recent campaign finance report, but I have not received a response. If the Ozanne campaign does respond, I will be sure to provide an update.

Wisconsin GAB rules to prohibit the use of cameras by election observers

http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/on-politics/board-votes-that-ban-on-election-observers-using-cameras-should/article_5b7f13b9-25ef-59c1-9f10-c523211fbf9e.html#ixzz3899H011l target=_blank>This is great news for for anyone opposed to nanny-state Republicans who want to get all “Big Brother” on citizens who are exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights.

The state elections board on Monday rejected a proposal to let election observers photograph and videotape voters at the polls.

Republican lawmakers who lead legislative elections committees had suggested the proposal, according to Government Accountability Board director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy.

While the GAB’s ruling will prevent election observers from photographing and/or videotaping voters at the polls on August 12, there’s nothing stopping Republicans from simply changing state law to allow the practice, and that’s why getting Democrats out to vote this fall will be so vitally important. After all, Democratic control of either the Assembly (not likely) or the State Senate (more likely) could provide an important check against Republicans continuing their efforts to make it harder (and more intimidating) to vote here in Wisconsin.

State Senator Nikiya Harris Dodd endorses Jonathan Brostoff

This is a pretty big deal…

“The challenges we face as a city today require fresh, energetic leaders in Madison who will work hard, everyday, to address the needs of our community,” Harris Dodd said. “I have known Jonathan for many years and know he is the right candidate for our neighborhoods — he has what it takes to deliver real results for our city’s residents.”

“Having worked as District Director for our Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson, Jonathan has the policy background that will make him an effective legislator,” Harris Dodd said. “But, what makes Jonathan even more compelling a candidate is that he’s seen the impact public policy has directly on daily lives. Because of his 16 years’ work on the ground in our city’s youth and family shelters, he understands the effect that legislative changes have on our community.”

“I have always admired Jonathan’s work ethic and know his tireless energy will serve the 19th District well,” Harris Dodd said. “He has been working hard on the campaign trail and I know he will work even harder, full-time, as a public servant.”

“Jonathan’s positive work ethic and progressive values are what lead me to support his candidacy,” Harris Dodd said. “I look forward to having Jonathan as my colleague in the state legislature and I hope the 19th District neighbors agree.”

While I understand endorsements by current elected officials aren’t the end all, be all in determining which candidates may emerge victorious on election day, the fact that Jonathan Brostoff has garnered endorsements from more of his potential future colleagues than any other candidate in the 19th Assembly district race says something about what he brings to the table as a candidate, especially considering one of his opponents is an entrenched career politician with strong ties to the Democratic establishment in Milwaukee County.

While the outcome of the August 12 primary in the 19th Assembly district is far from a sure thing, Jonathan Brostoff certainly seems to have momentum at exactly the right time.

What do you get without a union? 12 hour shifts!

No matter how glowing the remarks in this article about the success of 12 hour shifts, I can say from first hand experience that they pretty much suck…back in the late 1970′s when I thought being a machinist was cool and the road to big blue collar money I worked in a non-union contract manufacturer…and we did 12 hour shifts…four days on two days off…and I was tired all of the time…my schedule was totally out of time with my friends and with my normal sleep/work/play rhythms. And I was a young man then. I can’t imagine working 12 hours per shift in a prison…medium security or not where I need to keep my wits about me to protect myself and others.

Correctional officers at one state prison now work 12-hour instead of eight-hour shifts, and Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is considering expanding the program to another institution next year.

A Department of Corrections survey of Prairie du Chien employees found that 60% of those responding believed the shift change had saved them money; 69% believed it had given them more time to spend with their friends and family; and 78% said working fewer, longer shifts made it easier for them to balance their work and personal lives.

The longer shifts were adopted at Prairie du Chien to help study how they would affect the Department of Corrections’ budget, operations and morale. Officials are looking at expanding the program next year to Redgranite, according to department spokesman Aaron Swanum.

“No final decision has been made on the future of 12-hour shifts,” Swanum wrote in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Both prisons are medium-security facilities, but Redgranite holds twice as many inmates — 1,027, compared with 516 at Prairie du Chien, as of last week. Redgranite is 30 miles west of Oshkosh. Prairie du Chien sits on the Mississippi River, 60 miles south of La Crosse.

So how did we get to this? ACT 10! NO PUBLIC UNIONS ABLE TO NEGOTIATE WORKING CONDITIONS OR HOURS.

Making the change without the approval of employees is something the department could not have done when employees had broad powers in labor negotiations. Walker and Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 restricted collective bargaining for corrections employees and most other public workers to wages and capped raises at the rate of inflation.

Blogging Blue’s “14 in ’14″

Goal Thermometer