Sunday, May 14, 2006

More political crime?

Jessica McBride comments on a report by Mark Green that 40 of the groups opposing the TPA were taxpayer funded. I just got an e-mail telling me that the State Public Defender's office intends to actively oppose the death penalty referendum. I don't know exactly whom Green is referring to, but I sure hope that someone is being vigilant about possible commission of the Crime of Jensen. He was, you recall, convicted of violating sec. 946.12(3) which says that as a public officer or official may not "in the officer's or employee's capacity as such officer or employee exercises a discretionary power in a manner inconsistent with the duties of the officer's or employee's office or employment or the rights of others and with intent to obtain a dishonest advantage for the officer or employee or another."

So what if a supervisor in a state agency instructs an employee to lobby or engage in advocacy on behalf of a matter of interest to that agency? Is there a difference if the matter is arguably related to the agency's substantive mission (like the SPD and the death penalty)or just to its desire for funds (like the TPA). The argument against criminalization of agency political activity would be that agencies must accept political reality and advocacy is a necessary part of obtaining the support required to achieve their substantive goals. But how different is that from the argument Jensen was making?

I certainly don't think that these folks should be criminally charged just as I don't think Chwala, Burke, Foti and Jensen should have gone to jail.

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