Dems request Van Hollen records

From my emailbox comes word Jason Stephany, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, has made an open records request to determine if Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has instructed state employees at the Wisconsin Department of Justice to engage in a political lobbying campaign involving contacting members of the State Legislature on specific provisions in the proposed 2009-2011 budget. What’s more, there are also allegations the Attorney General’s office has been sending Department Of Justice employees the same talking points used by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Scott Walker for Governor campaign along with their political lobbying instructions. Here’s a snippet from the open records request submitted by Stephany:

According to sources within your agency, at least four of your top deputies, Ray Taffora, Kevin St. John, Gary Hamblin and Chris Blythe, have been contacting managers and instructing them to pass down these political lobbying orders and talking points to rank-and-file staff at the DOJ.

By doing this, you are essentially forcing state employees into a position where they must either act as your political pawns or face retribution from their managers at a time when job cuts are imminent. This is yet another example of your office abusing state resources and using state employees as tools to advance your political agenda.

Obviously it’s too early to tell whether the allegations being made by Jason Stephany have any merit, but given how elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum have played “fast and loose” with the laws prohibiting campaign-related activities on state time, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of the allegations made end up being true.

Greg Kowalski of Metro Milwaukee Today has more.


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2 thoughts on “Dems request Van Hollen records

  1. Greg,

    These allegations lack merit.

    As a long time DOJ employee (who happened to be hired by Jim Doyle and is a union member), the Democratic Party’s letter contains several untrue statements. DOJ management has not ordered or directed employees to undertake lobbying on behalf the Attorney General. No one has been threatened and coerced to do anything.

    Many DOJ employees are raising these issues with Legislator’s because they care deeply about the important service that they provide to Wisconsin citizens. We also care deeply about the job losses that JFC’s budget will cause for our fellow employees. The vast majority of DOJ employees were hired by Democrat AGs and align themselves with the Democratic side on most issues. Many of us are deeply troubled that Democrats, who believe in good government, would (through the Joint Finance Committee), undermine the initiatives of the Department of Justice–duties that the AG’s Democratic predecessors developed and pursued. If these cuts go through, a number of important programs will suffers–including consumer protection and environmental protection enforcement (not to mention the unique public safety function that we perform throughout the state)

    The Democratic Party is more than welcome to attack the Attorney General for his policies–but please remember that the vast majority of us carry out nonpolitical functions and do an outstanding job serving the public–something that we will no longer be able to do if the Legislature adopts JFC’s misguided budget recommendations.

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