Did Republican State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald violate Wisconsin law when he sent Wisconsin State Troopers looking for the 14 Democratic State Senators who fled Wisconsin at the height of the debate over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to eviscerate public employee unions?
On February 23rd, we submitted open records requests to the Office of the Governor, the Office of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and the Wisconsin State Patrol (which is headed by Sen. Fitzgerald’s father, Stephen Fitzgerald) asking for any records of communications regarding the decision to send troopers out after the legislators. Their responses were surprising.
Several documents produced by Senator Fitzgerald’s office clearly show his staff was well aware there was no legal authority to dispatch the troopers, and that doing so would have required – at the very least – an amendment to Senate rules. No legislative fix was ever passed, but the troopers were deployed anyway.
Not only was there no legal authority for Scott Fitzgerald to send his daddy’s State Troopers out to “compel” (arrest) the 14 Democrats who fled Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Constitution actually prohibits the arrest of members of the legislature while the legislature is in session, as it was during the time the Wisconsin 14 were in Illinois.
Apparently the Wisconsin State Constitution just doesn’t mean much to Scott Fitzgerald.