"The taxpayers have been left holding the bag.... As a result of this I think there is going to be a lot more oversight." Those were statements made by Nevada Assemblyman James Ohrenschall in an interview on Vegas Inc. September 21.
This week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit government watchdog group, released a report -- "The Worst Governors in America," and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in sixth in the top category. The report has an amusing circus theme and dubs Walker a "Ringmaster," but it is heavily documented and footnoted to reliable sources and primary documents. The criteria CREW used when assessing the nation's governors were the following: corruption, transparency, partisan politics, pressuring public officials, cronyism, self-enrichment, scandal and mismanagement.
In theory, Wisconsin has some of the strongest ethics and lobbying laws in the country -- legislators cannot accept even a cup of coffee from lobbyists or others who have an interest in the outcome of legislation -- but these laws are meaningless if the state ethics board does not take action to enforce them.
Two teenage girls were arrested and detained this week for Tweeting threats to a rape victim. It appears that the young people of Steubenville have not learned much about the uses of social media even after the extraordinary trials and convictions of two young men for rape this week in a case that relied heavily upon the photos, videos, and Tweets taken concomitantly with the crime.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) have introduced a new constitutional amendment to overturn the damage done by Citizens United, Buckley v. Valeo, and other judicial decisions that have diluted the role of ordinary people in American democracy.
A majority of Visa shareholders rejected an effort to require the company to provide more disclosure about its role in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and related lobbying activities. Boston Common Asset Management, an investment firm focused on socially responsible investing, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), a religious organization that affirms the inherent capacity for good in human beings, filed a resolution to require the company to disclose all payments used for lobbying purposes, including payments to groups like ALEC. In all, over 100 million votes were cast in favor of the resolution -- 37% -- but that substantial outpouring of support for greater transparency accounted for less than a majority of the votes cast by Visa shareholders.
Another top official to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling funds intended for families of veterans. The sentencing appears to close a chapter in the ongoing "John Doe" investigation into corruption and misconduct in the Walker County Executive's office, but the book remains open.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2012 CONTACT: Brendan Fischer
MADISON, WI -- Several Wisconsin legislators are attending this week's conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at the Grand Hyatt in Washington D.C., and likely doing so on corporate-funded "scholarships," which the Center for Media and Democracy believes violate state ethics and lobbying laws. The three-day meeting, held November 28-30, will bring state legislators together with corporate lobbyists and special interests to craft "model" bills -- many of which will likely be introduced in the ALEC-majority Wisconsin legislature in the session that begins in January.