How convenient that former Republican Rep. Scott Suder found a sweet lobbying job that will allow him to not join Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, saving Gov. Walker the trouble of having to explain why he’d give someone as ethically challenged (and that’s putting it mildly) as Suder a hefty raise to serve on Gov. Walker’s Public Service Commission (PSC).
The former Assembly majority leader who engineered a controversial and now-canceled $500,000 grant to a self-described sportsmen’s group has abruptly declined a job in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.
Scott Suder, a Republican from Abbotsford, had accepted a job paying $94,000 a year — 88% more than his legislative salary — at the Public Service Commission as the state division administrator for Water Compliance and Consumer Affairs. But he turned it down before his first day to take a lobbying job at the Wisconsin Paper Council starting Monday, according to a resignation letter he sent Thursday to PSC chairman Phil Montgomery.
As Suder announced his “resignation” from the PSC, Republican State Rep. Jeff Stone announced he will kick the constituents who elected him into office to the curb so that he can take Suder’s spot in the PSC. Stone’s resignation from the legislature and appointment in the PSC will boost his state-funded pension thanks to a hefty pay increase, demonstrating once again that loyalty to Gov. Walker most definitely has its rewards.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is nearly doubling the pay of the former lawmaker who engineered a $500,000 grant to his and Walker’s political friends that could have cost the state $28 million in federal aid.
The Public Service Commission finalized the hiring Friday of former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) at a salary of $94,000 a year — an 88% boost to the $49,943 he made as a legislator. The commission did not disclose its actions until Monday, despite repeated questioning last week about when and whether Suder would be hired.
Suder is to start his new job Oct. 7 as division administrator for water, compliance and consumer affairs, according to commission spokesman Nathan Conrad.
Apparently the moral of this story is that no “good” deed – in this case gift-wrapping a $500,000 taxpayer-funded grant to a conservative group – will go unrewarded in the administration of Gov. Scott Walker.
Yeah, this picture just about sums up Gov. Scott Walker’s more than cozy connection to many of the key players in United Sportsmen, the not actually a nonprofit group that received a $500,000 grant in Walker’s budget, only to have Walker veto that grant when the public became aware of the group’s strong ties to former Republican State Rep. Scott Suder (who actually put the grant proposal in the state budget) as well as Gov. Walker.
A $500,000 sportsmen’s grant slipped into the state budget earlier this summer is set to go to a group with ties to Republican insiders that has praised GOP politicians and lobbied for legislation such as lowering regulations on iron mining and development in wetlands.
The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc., a group formed in January with no record of its own in outdoors training, is the only applicant for the scantly noticed two-year grant to promote hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin that is being reviewed Thursday by a special panel.
As noted in the Journal Sentinel’s report, the provision in question was slipped into the biennial budget by outgoing Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and Rep. Dan LeMahieu (R-Cascade), and the group has ties to donors, lobbyists, and a former lawmaker who all have strong ties to Rep. Suder, not to mention his former chief of staff. What’s more, the Journal Sentinel report noted the board members of United Sportsmen and their family members contributed $2,500 to Suder last year.
But remember folks…Republicans are “fiscally responsible” and really concerned about clean government.
Although it doesn’t always pay to tilt at windmills, the decision by Wisconsin Assembly Democrats and Assembly Minority Leader Representative Peter Barca to refrain from offering a single amendment to the biennial budget is downright perplexing. On the one hand I can understand the futility of offering up amendments that have absolutely no chance of making it into the budget…and the Democrats reportedly had over two hundred budget amendments ready to propose…but they may have left themselves open to accusations of not doing their jobs come 2014.
Now I don’t think it would have been wise to propose and debate every single amendment ad infinitum. That would have played out worse in the press than walking away from this fight. But it may have been wise to introduce the strongest amendments, those with potentially the most support or at least the most empathetic recognition in the state and forced the Republicans to take a stand against them. Yes I think this budget may hoist the Republicans by their own petard…but the Democrats could have improved the return on investment with some well placed counterpoint!
Earlier this week Zach posted an article about the State Assembly possibly raising the per diem expense rate paid to Assembly members during their stays in Madison. Surprisingly the article resulted in one of most spirited discussions of the week.
The per diem has a role to play in controlling the cost of government. Rather than raising salaries across the board to cover expenses, only members of the State Assembly and Senate who have valid expenses related to traveling to and staying in Madison during legislative sessions get reimbursed. Now the rate hasn’t been increased since 2001 and under normal circumstances the per diem is probably overdue for review and adjustment. We all know that expenses in general and particularly the cost of food and travel has increased in the past 10 years. But in the current economic environment it would send a very negative signal to taxpayers if it were raised.
But I think we are getting hot under the collar about the wrong thing. According to an article by Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the State Assembly doesn’t have to vote on changing their per diem rate. Most likely, your representative and my representative could receive an increase in expense reimbursement without ever having to vote on it. Essentially your tax dollars, once again, could be spent without your representation. Apparently a committee of 8 Assembly leaders have the authority to change the per diem rate. Eight leaders out of 99 Assembly members decide…and those other 91 members would never have to explain to their constituents why they received increased expense reimbursement rates while the state continues to experience economic stress.
BTW: The State Assembly and Senate set their per diems separately which doesn’t make much sense either.
My suggestion: set the state per diem at a permanent percentage of the federal rate for stays in Madison…or utilize third party suggested rates (there are plenty of services like this available) and make the legislature vote on it…with the rate change going into effect after the following election similarly to their base salaries…and in either case make the rates the same for both houses of the legislature.
As they head into the new legislative session, Assembly Republican leaders are considering raising how much the 99 members of their chamber can claim for expenses.
Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said top Republicans have discussed raising the rate for daily expenses, known as per diem, but they have not made any final decisions. He noted payment rates have not been increased in more than a decade.
“I’m open to it. As we look at where we are, it’s something to consider,” Vos said.
Most lawmakers receive $88 a day to cover hotels and meals when they come to the Capitol. Those who live in or close to Madison receive half that amount. The payments in many cases are tax-free and come on top of their $49,943-a-year salary.
Democratic State Rep. Jon Richards summed up the hypocrisy of Republicans wanting an increase of their per diems, saying, “I think at a time when we’re trying to make ends meet with our own state employees . . . it hardly seems the right time to be raising per diem rates.”
And from the files of “unmitigated gall” comes Republican State. Rep. Scott Suder’s assertion that raising per diem rates for lawmakers is “logical” because hotel prices have risen in recent years. Apparently lost on Rep. Suder is the fact that the price of just about everything has risen over the past few years, leaving public employees (many of whom haven’t seen a pay raise in years) have seen their take-home pay drop thanks to efforts by Rep. Suder and his fellow Republicans. If Scott Suder expects public employees to see their take-home pay decrease because of increases in their contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefts, then he should expect to see his per diems frozen as well.
Apparently Republican State Reps. Tom Tiffany and Scott Suder and Republican State Sen. Terry Moulton gave up on creating jobs in Wisconsin, instead turning their legislative attention to the pressing issue of whether or not motorists get to keep their roadkill.
Yep, those Republicans in the State Legislature sure did tackle some really tough, important issues this session.
“The Second Amendment doesn’t stop at the entrance to the Capitol, and people should have the right to exercise their constitutional freedoms when they visit the statehouse,”
Apparently Rep. Suder’s support for “constitutional freedoms” doesn’t extend to the first amendment rights of citizens who’ve been escorted from the Assembly Gallery by law enforcement at the behest of Assembly Republicans for sitting silently while wearing copies of the Constitution around their necks.
So here’s my question for Rep. Suder and Republicans: why does the First Amendment stop at the entrance to our state’s Capitol – and particularly in the Assembly Gallery – while the Second Amendment can be exercised within the Capitol and the Assembly Gallery.