Thursday, July 27, 2006

'Investigation' or 'review?'

Must have been my imagination. Apparently AG Peg Lautenschlager is not "investigating" a meeting between former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta and a donor to Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign.

Her office is simply "reviewing" the matter, the Capital Times reported today, helping Lautenschlager aide Mike Bauer take the edge off what he said yesterday. The story says:
[Bauer] said earlier this week that the state Justice Department was "reviewing" the meeting between Marotta and Schiffrin. There has been no decision whether to mount a full-blown investigation...
So, what did Bauer say originally? WisPolitics reported:
Bauer said DOJ investigators are working with the Milwaukee U.S. Attorney's office on the Marotta and UW-Milwaukee dorm matters...

"We are actively pursuing and participating in this in a fair and nonpolitical fashion, and we don't intend to make it a political issue," said Bauer.
"Investigators" are "working with" the US attorney's office, and DOJ is "actively pursuing" it.

This morning's Journal Sentinel said:
The disclosures came a day after Bauer revealed that Lautenschlager, in conjunction with U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, had expanded an investigation into the awarding of a travel contract to include Schiffrin's meeting with Marotta. Bauer also said investigators are looking into the awarding of a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee project in which a losing bidder has alleged Marotta improperly intervened in the vendor selection process for the Kenilworth building.
"Expanded an investigation" and "investigators are looking." Sounds a little like an investigation, ain'a?

The day before, the JS reported:
Madison - State and federal prosecutors are probing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration over a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee building project and a meeting Doyle's campaign fund-raiser arranged for Doyle's top deputy in his state office.

Michael Bauer, the administrator of legal services at the state Department of Justice, said Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic and their aides are involved in the reviews, which grew out of an ongoing investigation into the awarding of a travel contract to a Doyle donor.

Bauer cautioned that the review of the role played by former state Administration Secretary Marc Marotta in the UWM building and an unrelated meeting with Philadelphia-area attorney Richard Schiffrin were in the early stages.
"Probing." Unless you're a doctor, that usually means investigating.

The Associated Press:
WAUKESHA, Wis. - Gov. Jim Doyle brushed off word that state and federal investigators are considering launching two more probes of his administration Wednesday, dismissing the news as typical political fodder during a heated campaign season.

Department of Justice spokesman Mike Bauer said prosecutors are reviewing how a firm that donated to Doyle won a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee building contract and whether a campaign fundraiser for Doyle arranged a meeting between a lawyer seeking state business and Doyle's top state aide in his office.

"It's a political year. You're going to see all of these things," the governor said...
Around the state, headlines used words like "probe" and "prosecutors" a lot.

So you can see why casual readers -- like me, for example -- thought Bauer had announced an investigation. That, and the fact that he was responding to a Republican candidate's call for an investigation.

Aren't you glad to know it's just a review? And that it is fair and non-political, of course. Being non-political would have been treating it like any other preliminary review, if that's what it is, and handling it quietly. It is almost certain to produce nothing except the headlines and impressions it has left with readers. That, of course, is the whole purpose.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger Bob Thompson said...

When is the media going to wake up and see that Peg is just pursuing a political agenda against the Governor and they are being used as pawns? This fair and non-political line is bullshit and everyone knows it, yet the press is willingly going along and pretending that this is all on the up and up. Which reporter is going to get some balls, stand up and report this for what it is?


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