Erpenbach Strikes Back

The story came out yesterday that The republicans were unanimous in swearing their secrecy, to Michael, Best & Freidrich while they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to make sure they had as many republican friendly districts as possible.

The problem with that(ok there are numerous problems, but one of the problems was the republicans denied the democrats legal representation. The republicans pointed out that thanks to MB & F, everyone was represented. They just forgot to ever let the democrats get involved. That did not sit well with Jon Erpenbach and he let them know with this letter:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eric McLeod

Michael, Best and Friedrich

One South Pinckney St.

Suite 700

Madison, WI 53707

Dear Mr. McLeod,

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has insisted from the start of the redistricting process that the process has not been political in nature. He even went so far as to deny Senate Democrats legal representation in this process, saying that the Senate already had a law firm: yours. That fact was restated by his staff, when ask by myself, as a member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities and Government Operations during a recent hearing. During that hearing, I asked Sen. Fitzgerald’s staff on more than one occasion, and more than one way, if politics were involved with redistricting. His answer was always the same, “no.”

Therefore, it is my understanding, as the elected State Senator of the 27th Senate District, I am your client. As your client I would like to review the file regarding your firm’s work on redistricting.

Attorney client privilege should not be an issue here because I am one of the 33 clients you represent.

If it’s not your understanding that your firm represents all 33 Wisconsin State Senators, then perhaps we need further clarification from Sen. Fitzgerald. Otherwise, please provide me with a copy of the entire redistricting file.

To be very clear, I really have a disdain for reading about a case that involves me and the entire Wisconsin State Senate in the newspaper.


Jon Erpenbach

State Senator

27th Senate District

I will anxiously await the response to this letter! This is starting to get interesting!


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8 thoughts on “Erpenbach Strikes Back

  1. Where are all the champions of the taxpayers out there? Wingnut, James Booth, et, al. This is an outrage that taxpayer dollars were used for what appear to be strictly partisan purposes! Make your voices heard, men! You’re typically not so quiet!

    1. Patience my friend. Some of us work late!

      For the record, I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I tow no party line. And I find it quite humorous the double standard you hold, that only Republicans waste taxpayer’s money on lawyers for redistricting. See my post below.

  2. Whooo! Erpenbach! Awesome letter and a great point. Blogging Blue thanks for the information. I learn so much of what is going on from you.

  3. Redistricting meeting sessions have ALWAYS been done in secret by the Wisconsin legislature. And then presented to the governor and everyone else for review. The fact that some signed confidentiality agreements is a matter of semantics.

    Besides, it didn’t seem too important to change our system when the dems had the chance:

    “Republicans, who recently took control of the Wisconsin Assembly, Senate and governor’s office, are wasting little time in trying to ensure they continue to hold power.

    Last week, the Assembly Organization Committee, hired a law firm — at taxpayer expense — to develop a redistricting plan. At the same time, the committee rejected a request from Democrats to pay for a firm they would hire to draw the Assembly and Senate boundary lines.

    The district lines are redrawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

    But Democrats, who are crying foul now, did pretty much the same thing last year.

    The Senate, then controlled by Democrats, ran up $120,000 in bills from a law firm it hired to do preliminary work on redistricting. At the same time, the Senate rejected bills from Republicans for essentially the same services, saying they weren’t detailed enough.

    So turnabout now is fair play, it would appear.

    The problem with having one party or the other drawing the boundary lines is that it’s easy to carve out “safe” districts that virtually guarantee election of a candidate from the party that drew the lines.

    This is not a new phenomenon, either.

    In 2002, the Legislature was divided and each party spent taxpayer money to draw its own boundaries — with each trying to shape districts to best suit their own election interests.

    Since neither plan could be passed because of the divided control of the Assembly and Senate, the issue ended up in court. There, the state spent more than $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars on attorney fees and other costs before the state Supreme Court made the ultimate decision.

    There is a way all of this wasted time and taxpayer money can be avoided — have an independent and nonpartisan body draw the lines. Iowa does it this way — and the voters get competitive races on the ballot. Also, the last redistricting Iowa did cost a grand total of $200,000. Wisconsin already has spent more than half of that and has nothing to show for it.

    Democrats, while they now are crying foul over the way Republicans are planning to draw the lines, have no one to blame but themselves.

    When they had control of the Legislature and the governor’s office for the last two years, they could have established an independent redistricting commission.

    Perhaps they thought they would retain control into 2011 and they could be the party dictating the boundary lines and hiring the attorneys.

    Perhaps they simply forgot.

    But in any case, the chance for a nonpartisan drawing of district boundary lines was missed last year.

    And now it appears another opportunity to take partisan politics out of redistricting will pass, too.”

    1. James, redistricting in Wisconsin requires an act of the legislature. As such, the process should be subject to Wisconsin’s open records laws.

  4. @ Jimbo


    You’re hopeless, boy.

    Truly hopeless.

    I guess you’ll always see what you want to see. “Just a matter of semantics.” THAT’S your takeaway from all of this?!


    So, I suppose when you see a big pile of horse manure in the backyard, you just dive right in because “there JUST has to be a pony here somewhere”, right?

    Duuuude! You JUST can’t possibly be THAT stupid, can you?!

    I sincerely hope that the editorial you bought to “impress” all of us with, and quoted in full, wasn’t too expensive. There isn’t a pony in there, either.

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