Monday, December 18, 2006

Is he for real?

Everyone has seen the “he did this” and “he did that” campaign commercials on TV lately. And hopefully many people know that you can’t really believe too much of what is being said.

Politicians are in the game to win. They are only looking out for themselves and their campaign’s success. Why would they want to help the other guy? Unless it helps their own campaign at the time, they will not help.

They are not only in it to win, but they will do whatever it takes to win it all. They will even play dirty if necessary. Let’s use Gov. Jim Doyle as an example of a dirty, selfish player.

There are constant rumors that Doyle is using the State Elections Board for his own personal gain. Congressman Mark Green, Doyle’s opponent in the upcoming election, got the short end of the stick. Green even put out a commercial saying Doyle rigged the board’s votes in favor of his side. I decided to look into it for myself.

Here’s the story I’m telling.

Green had previous funds from his run for Congress. That $467,844 came from donations from out-of-state political action committees. There is a Wisconsin law stating that these committees must be state registered before a candidate can use these donations.

The State Elections Board voted to make this a law the day after Green transferred the money to his campaign account for governor. Doyle must have gotten a little nervous, possibly intimidated, and decided to hire a lawyer. Good plan! Lawyers really make everything better, don’t they?

The lawyer proceeds to email three Democratic members of the State Elections Board and heavily lobbies them to vote in favor of Doyle’s complaint. This would make Green have to un-accept the money, even though he claimed the money was already used.

Doyle’s lawyer says that he didn’t file the complaint with the board about Green’s campaign money. The complaint was filed by a non-Partisan Wisconsin Democracy campaign. Right – so that’s really the excuse you’re going with?

Doyle claims he hired a lawyer simply because Green broke the law. But he had hired the lawyer before Green even transferred the money. So now he’s psychic and knows when his opponents are trying to one-up him. Fascinating. What else ya got?

A law in Wisconsin allows the media to access any written records, so the Journal Sentinel found the emails from Doyle’s lawyer to board members. No correspondence was found between any of Greens campaign and the board. The board says it is perfectly legal to contact them and Green’s people could have done the same as Doyle’s But Green doesn’t seem to want to play dirty, a first for a politician. I’m just as shocked as you.

Though board members deny being told how to vote by anyone, the emails obviously show that the board’s decision was made before the meeting and vote even took place. That’s all thanks to Doyle’s lawyer. Nice job, ace. Score one for you, big shot.

Doyle’s lawyer had to know he was doing something kind of sketchy. It’s obvious he suggested anti-Green decisions to the board; I doubt he would deny that. But what’s sketchy is that Doyle’s lawyer did not contact one of the Democratic board members after that member had suggested the board give Green an opportunity to get the out-of-state committees registered. This board member wanted the State Elections Board to at least look reasonable.

Well of course Doyle’s lawyer didn’t contact him. Why would he? He wants to be reasonable and fair. The lawyer was working for Doyle, who is neither of those things. So I guess that makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why Doyle was so intimidated that he felt the need to go after Green’s campaign money. Even if that money had been allowed, Green still would have had $2 million less than Doyle. He was scared and good at showing it.

The State Elections Board’s legal counsel recommended that the Green money transfer be allowed. Since similar transfers have been allowed since the 1990s, that decision seemed appropriate. In previous years, the board actually approved three similar transfers.

An example of this, and an example of Doyle’s dirty playing style, came in 2001. The State Elections Board dismissed Doyle’s complain when now-Mayor Tom Barrett wanted to transfer campaign donation money. That sounds strangely familiar.

If rigging board votes is how Doyle wants to win an election, go for it. But that will certainly be what he is known for in the future.

Shortly after the incident with the Green donations, there was a move to combine the State Elections and Ethics Boards. This would allow the unified Board to have more authority to investigate corruption, like Doyle’s dirty campaign strategies. It passed in the Senate, but not the Assembly. Foiled again!

Green attempted to fight back by going to the Supreme Court with the whole mess. The campaign for Green now says they have set aside the money in case they lose, but are hoping for a response by voting day.

This election has turned into the dirtiest in awhile and it is not over yet. Just remember Doyle’s ethics, strategies, and style of play when you vote on Nov. 7th.

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