Friday, February 03, 2012

Just wondering ...

It is my recollection that certain bloggers who are rather free with speculation and adjectival fury about the Governor and those who worked for him  had stints in the government (e.g., Bill Christofferson and Jim Rowen)

So in light of this morning's post ...

I wonder if Bill and Jim would be willing to declare under oath that they never did anything that might be considered political work during normal business hours or in government offices. Can they say that they never used government phones, computers, stationary or (you now, these guys are a little older) mimeograph machines and carbon paper for political stuff?

Inquiring minds want to know.

35 comments:

muttmutt said...

What upsets you more, Rick? That Walker's cronies got busted or that Doyle's didn't?

Of course, that's a BS comparison to begin with. Didn't they teach you in law school that the absence of evidence is not evidence in and of itself???

Pathetic...

John Foust said...

Such demands! How about we start with the instant situation with Walker. More than a few conservatives have questions for him, too.

Again with the "political work". I thought we were talking about campaigning. Are you trying to conflate the two? You can't nuance a difference?

Karl said...

Seems you're getting a bit defensive here, GOP lackey.....so if Christofferson and Rowen did it then it's okay for Scotty to?
Even as compromised a lawyer as you can see the problems with that defense.....

xoff said...

Except for a two-year stint in the mayor's office, I did politics, not government, for 20 years. During my time at city hall (1996-98), if you cared to check, you would find that I took considerable amounts of vacation or personal leave time whenever I was doing any work that could be considered campaign work. I'd be happy to say that under oath, if Scott Walker were willing to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Walker's newly hired personal criminal lawyers will have to get back you on that for him, Bill.

George Mitchell said...

Several things about Bill's comments here and on an earlier post.

1. Bill fathered the most despicable ad in recent Wisc political history (see Prosser, child abuse, et.al). His sidekick in that enterprise received immunity in connection with her role in helping Chvala on his way to a state correctional facility.

2. Bill is correct that Rindfleish's conduct, if true as alleged, was not legal. While I personally think there should be no limits on the political activity of political staffers, the law is the law.

3. The law was virtually ignored for at least decades prior to the "caucus scandal." I would argue most political staffers were also ignorant of the law, though that is not an excuse. Then, much as with the Coggs affair, a disgruntled staffer spilled the beans and the State Journal acted all surprised to learn that the partisan caucuses were doing partisan activity.

4. The subsequent investigations and prosecutions were flawed in their selectivity. Mike McCann took on Chvala and Blanchard took on Jensen. Any student of Madison politics, most especially Bill, knows that a host of Assembly Dems skated. My objection to the Chvala and the Jensen prosecutions focused on felony charges (instead of misdemeanor), selective prosecution, and the laughable failure of the media to report what had been going for decades.

5. Bill's claim to be squeaky clean is priceless.

jimspice said...

To paraphrase: "Please comment so I can call you a liar."

George Mitchell said...

As for Jim Rowen, he worked for Soglin and later Norq. Was there no political or campaign related activity or discussion during those tenures? When Jim ran for mayor was there no discussion of issues, the campaign, or political tactics during office hours?

Maybe Jim will assert that, like Bill, he was above reproach. Good for him. :)

Anonymous said...

George displays selective outrage with his comments about the failure of the prosecutors to go after the Assembly Democrats.

The prosecutors went after the majority leadership in each house, taking out the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Chair of Joint Finance (both Democrats) and the Assembly Speaker and Assembly Majority Leader (both Republicans).

In doing so, the prosecutors went after the people who ran each house. The Assembly Democrats and the Senate Republicans, who served in the minority at the time, would have had trouble organizing two-car funeral processions. That's the reason that these folks were left alone.

George Mitchell said...

Anon is ignorant or disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

And George is a whore for the folks who own Amway and bankroll the school choice movement.

xoff said...

George, George, we have become estranged, apparently. We used to br friends. And you used to be more careful with the facts. I didn't "father" any Prosser ad at all. I haven't made a TV spot since 2006.

And you well know the difference between talking about politics in the office and raising money virtually full-time for a campaign on the public payroll. Do you really think that should be legal, and public officials should hire staffers to raise money for their campaigns?

The person in the caucus scandal who really "skated" was Scott Jensen. Mark Green was the GOP caucus chair in the Assembly when all that illegal activity went on, and skated, too.

Obfuscate all you want, George, but no one in the Capitol ever went to the lengths to try to break the law and get away with it that the Walker crew, with their secret, dedicated email network, did.

xoff said...

Now that I've had time to step away from the ketboard and take a deep breath, just a couple of more observations:

1. Why, George Mitchell, do you and your friends immediately go to personal attacks on people's character, introducing irrelevant red herrings. Is it because you can't defend Walker on the substance?

2. Many people thought the most despicable ad in recent Wisconsin political history was run by Michael Gableman. Remember that?

3. Does anyone remember Brian Burke, the Democrat who who was sentenced to six months in jail and $88,000 in fines for running his campaign out of his State Senate office? Democrats skated?

4. What was ignored before the caucus scandal is irrelevant. Ten years ago, it became clear what the law was and that it would be enforced. Rindfleisch, who got immunity as part of that scandal, certainly knew it, and so did the rest of the Walker crew.

George, you're grasping at straws. What went on in Walker's office is indeefensible.

Anonymous said...

How much time did the undisguised Republican Party hack Rick Esenberg spend composing Republican Party hackery in his Marquette Law School office, paid for by students who spent a hundred thousand dollars in tuition?

George Mitchell said...

Yes, I think there should be little if any limits on the activity of political staff. If voters don't like it they can have their say. That is the best check on "too much" political/campaign activity. Voters likely would not have OK'd the GOP fundraising on state time. Nor would they have liked Chvala summoning lobbyists to an office (outside the Capitol) and extracting contributions.

The alternative is the selective prosecution and criminalization of activity central to the political process. Activity that is honest and legal outside the physical confines a a government office building somehow becomes scurrilous and indefensible if it occurs inside the Capitol or City Hall or the Courthouse. Drawing the line between what is mere "political discussion" and forbidden "campaign activity" is so difficult as to be worthless to discuss or pursue.

In the 1999 school board elections Mayor Norquist rightly played a leadership role in candidate recruitment and in arranging for people such as Bill, Michele McGrorty, and David Riemer to manage several campaigns. Bill now wants us to believe that during his 1996-98 tenure as chief of staff he was part of such planning and discussion only when he had punched out the time clock at City Hall. When he entered those premises it was all about garbage collection, mass transit, and good governance.

Bill distances himself from the Prosser ad. He certainly was the most vigorous public defender of it a few months ago. He says the Gableman ad was worse. The differences between the two are notable; others can draw their own opinion as to which was more objectionable.

Bill is one of a long list of individuals who were active in Wisconsin politics and campaigns during the 70s and after. They are well aware of what was routine activity in partisan (and nonpartisan) government offices. Those who now emerge in holier-than-thou denunciation of those practices are disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Watches partisan hacks fight over who's worse....

watches my two pre-schoolers fight over who hit who first...

...can't help notice there isn't any difference.

Both parties should be banned, and all partisan hacks should be left on a raft in the middle of the Pacific.

Anonymous said...

I get the distinction impression that George Mitchell wants to bring back the days of Boss Tweed.

George Mitchell said...

As with the caucus story a decade ago, the current John Doe story has unleashed holier-than-thou historical revisionism.

George Mitchell said...

To illustrate the gap between reality and "It's a law!" consider:

13.05
13.05 Logrolling prohibited. Any member of the legislature who gives, offers or promises to give his or her vote or influence in favor of or against any measure or proposition pending or proposed to be introduced in the legislature in consideration or upon condition that any other person elected to the same legislature will give or will promise or agree to give his or her vote or influence in favor of or against any other measure or proposition pending or proposed to be introduced in such legislature, or who gives, offers or promises to give his or her vote or influence for or against any measure on condition that any other member will give his or her vote or influence in favor of any change in any other bill pending or proposed to be introduced in the legislature, is guilty of a Class I felony.

The enactment of major legislation, especially if "bipartisan," routinely involves the violation of this law.

Or there are the partisan caucuses on the state budget, where it is often necessary to logroll to achieve 51 (or 17) votes.

Don't hold your breath for a logrolling John Doe.

Anonymous said...

"I have forgotten more about state govt and politics than several of the ankle-biters here will ever know."

*Let elected officials use their staff as they see fit and let the public know what they do...Let voters decide”.

Exactly the arrogance displayed by Democrat or GOP operatives which frustrate and anger the electorate.

On one hand, you infer that the public is too dumb to comprehend the nuances of politics. On the other hand, the public has the smarts to decide whether those nuances constitute a violation of the public trust--and therefore removal from office come election time--when those nuances are “properly explained” to them. How convenient that illegal conduct would be considered, under your proposal, as “official business”, since our trusted public officials would ensure “transparency”.

We The People try to hold our elected politicians and judges to higher standards. The continued appearance of impropriety by both sides of the political aisle means more to citizens than you think. Sorry, pal, but We The People are well-read and well-versed with how government works, and what is and is not acceptable conduct for their elected officials.

Indeed, politicing and campaigning is joined at the hip, and SOME politicians MAY even cross the line. But the fact remains that certain activities have been properly deemed by elected officials, under the marching orders of their constituents, as illegal. Why? Look at history, George, and the machinations of political bosses and self-proclaimed bloviating bigwigs when such rules and laws were not in place. The “anything is fair game mentality” has been tried once before, and with miserable consequences. We The People demanded (and received) much needed reforms and refuse to go back to the “halycon days”.

Jay Bullock said...

The public did have their say, George, when they demanded accountability and punishment for those involved in the caucus scandal, and voted for reform-minded folks in the aftermath.

Further, permitting incumbents to assign paid staff to campaign--even if done with transparency--allows incumbents a massive advantage.

Anonymous said...

The enactment of major legislation, especially if "bipartisan," routinely involves the violation of this law.

Any specific evidence to back up your assertion?


"Don't hold your breath for a logrolling John Doe."

Exactly, because it is up the discretion of the prosecutors--as it SHOULD be--to determine if the behaviors are egregious to the point that it broke the law.

Sorry, sir, but it's not Boss Tweed time anymore. That ship has sailed. We The People have demanded accountability, therefore these laws are on the books. You even stated in a previous post that the law is the law. Deal with it, rather than point out supposedly past inconsistencies or irregularities. It is what it is!

Now, I don't know if Walker had any knowledge of the activities of his underlings, or if he is part and parcel to a cover-up. What I do know is that there were shenanigans conducted by his staff under his watch--and I thought he made it clear that he knew exactly what was going on by his people at all times.

The prosecutors are putting the squeeze on by perhaps overcharging the offenders in an effort to expose the larger fish. We shall see if there is any more to the story, if Walker was directly involved. The proof is currently circumstantial, but there is enough there to warrant a more complete investigation.

George Mitchell said...

Anon asks, re logrolling: "Any specific evidence to back up your assertion?"

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Again, stay on topic, George. The focus of the investigation are allegations of politicians campaigning on the taxpayer dime, NOT the political processes that you were intimately part of.




Logrolling is difficult to prove, probably why no one has ever been prosecuted since it became Wisconsin law in 1911, that's why I made that comment.

So if you want to go on a personal crusade to criminalize making compromises, vote trading, or swinging deals, be my guest. Coalitions form today to support designated proposals which generally are in the public's best interest. I would imagine the law is outdated, and that is why prosecutors today are not interested in delving into what is now normal activity in politics. But, back in 1911, backroom deals that were not for the general welfare were all too common.

The fact remains that you are crying over politicians who got caught for doing something illegal regarding CAMPAIGNING, and are whining about how allegedly others got away with similar conduct.

Boo, hoo, hoo. Ooooh, it's not fair! If you were an arrogant Democratic operative, I would have the same reaction.


"Yes, I think there should be little if any limits on the activity of political staff. If voters don't like it they can have their say."

Again, George, We The People have spoken with the current laws in place. Prosecutors from both sides of the political aisle will do their due diligence to investigate and prosecute the offenders.

Case closed!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mitchell, you know that logrolling for bills is not the same as campaigning for election. Again and again, you have been asked to mind the difference between politics and campaigns.

And we know the difference, so stop the silly deflection games.

Perhaps the debate at hand is not the debate in your head, but that sort of magical thinking and such muddling of voter's minds may have worked for Walker for a while. But we're back to reality now, and we request, again, that you join us here.

George Mitchell said...

Anon 4:38

You are correct that logrolling and campaign activity are different. I did not say otherwise.

The prohibition of logrolling is an example of statute that is not enforced. To attempt to "enforce" would produce selective administration of the law, similar to the enforcement efforts regarding campaign activity.

The unenforced logrolling ban also illustrates the selective outrage shown by those who clamor for (selective) enforcement of prohibitions on campaign activity.

Another commenter suggests that eliminating the campaign activity bans would give incumbents a large advantage. Not necessarily. An incumbent who made excessive use of staff for campaign activity could face negative consequences at election time. The incumbent would have to explain and justify that. Many incumbents likely would choose to minimize the use of staff time for campaign related activity.

Anonymous said...

I know its just an informal blog, but c'mon, man, you are some kind of attorney or profeesor even, so it is not "stationAry"--it is "stationEry". It makes the whole 'call out the other guy' content (and content is a very generous word here) just too painful to read.

Anonymous said...

Er, apologies for the typo--"ProfeSSor." How ironic, glass houses, both sides do it, and all that.

Anonymous said...

Anony 2:05 p.m. here

George Mitchell--You are correct that logrolling and campaign activity are different. I did not say otherwise.

You certainly make the implication.


The unenforced logrolling ban also illustrates the selective outrage shown by those who clamor for (selective) enforcement of prohibitions on campaign activity.

Two completely separate issues (day to day politics as an official, campaigning as a politician)* that you are trying to meld into one. Indeed, you are muddying the waters.

Yes, they may be a hypocrisy displayed by those who IN THE PAST engaged in illegal activities in each or both areas* and now seek justice, but WHO CARES! It's the present day that matters most.


"Another commenter suggests that eliminating the campaign activity bans would give incumbents a large advantage. Not necessarily. An incumbent who made excessive use of staff for campaign activity could face negative consequences at election time. The incumbent would have to explain and justify that. Many incumbents likely would choose to minimize the use of staff time for campaign related activity."

COULD and LIKELY WOULD are the key phrases here.
We The People currently err on the side of caution.

ProgressiveConservative said...

Rick -What would happen if an e-mail was discovered that showed Walker communicating with his county staff on county time on the secret e-mail network? Would that be a smoking gun - ala the Watergate tapes? That seems to be the most obvious question that nobody seems to have raised (assuming that e-mail to Russell regarding Wink was not sent via the secret network). A possible next topic for your blog perhaps?

Dad29 said...

Anony 2:05 gets it.

We, the people, WILL demand a higher standard.

If "political connections" are the only criterion for hiring staff, then the hiring process is seriously flawed. Don't care if it's Doyle or Walker.

The ONLY "political connection" that should count is the best interests of the state--which, happily, is identical to the best interests of the citizens.

This ain't exactly new. Plato & Co. discussed it a couple thousand years ago.

Dad29 said...

Further, permitting incumbents to assign paid staff to campaign--even if done with transparency--allows incumbents a massive advantage

You mean like xoff, by his own admission?

Anonymous said...

Dad29, you are so correct on the HR mess under Walker. What was he thinking? Who did he have doing that thinking for him? Such hires!

Part of the problem, of course, and I'm glad that you see it, is that he changed so many positions from civil service -- deliberately put in place to remove politicaly influence from hiring -- to appointments.

And that's the problem for him: Sure, he ought to have hired better people to vet his appointments. But he still made the appointments -- and many of them are his longtime friends. So he'll be known for the company that he kept, and repeatedly kept with him in Milwaukee and in Madison. And all paid exorbitant salaries by us to campaign for him.

Jay Bullock said...

Dad29, where did xoff admit he was campaigner while a paid staffer? Seems to me he was clear he did not.

John Foust said...

Dad29's too busy with posts to his blog such as calling Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg an "old Lefty hag" to devote any time to the corruptions of Walker. He's against the Party In Government, he says, except when it's a GOP government.