Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Who's gonna investigate this?

WisPolitics reports:
A Philadelphia lawyer met with the State of Wisconsin Investment Board last year on the same day his wife gave $5,000 to AG Peg Lautenschlager’s campaign, according to campaign finance reports and records maintained by the board. Attorney Richard Schiffrin got the meeting after calling a Lautenschlager aide in the Department of Justice and receiving a referral to the board.
If J.B. Van Hollen calls for an investigation, will DOJ's Michael Bauer announce one's already underway, as he did yesterday with questions about Jim Doyle?

Probably not, since the WisPol story continues:
Lautenschlager aide Mike Bauer received the inquiry from Schiffrin and made the referral. He said he had no idea about a contribution.

"If anybody asks me about SWIB business, what else am I supposed to do but refer them to SWIB, or any other state agency they may ask about?" he asked.

Bauer said he received a phone call from Schiffrin on March 10. The firm wanted to be considered by SWIB if it sought outside counsel in litigation. SWIB selects a pool of attorneys it is willing to work with and then submits the list to DOJ for final approval, Bauer said.

Schiffrin met with SWIB April 5, the same day Schiffrin's wife, Barbara, made the donation to Lautenschlager’s campaign.
Strong Capital Times editorial to follow?
UPDATE: Despite that information coming to light on Wednesday, this morning's Wisconsin State Journal headline is:
Official: Doyle donors weren't favored

The former chief legal counsel for the state pension fund said Wednesday he was never pressured to consider hiring a law firm whose founding partner had given to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign.

Records obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal also reveal that it was an aide to Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, not former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, who referred the Pennsylvania firm to the state Investment Board...

Weeks before those donations were made, Mike Bauer, administrator of legal services for the state Department of Justice, suggested the name of Schiffrin's firm, Schiffrin & Barroway, to Keith Johnson, then-chief legal counsel to the Investment Board. The firm was looking for work representing the board in shareholder lawsuits.

"I was wondering if it was all right if I passed your number on to schedule something" with Schiffrin, Bauer told Johnson, according to a transcript of a March 10, 2005, voice mail message Johnson saved and which the board released Wednesday in response to an open records request.

Johnson e-mailed the message to an assistant, noting dryly: "Another political run at getting hired by SWIB."
Why are these "Doyle donors" in the headline, when the story acknowledges that Lautenschlager's office made the referral -- and her campaign collected $5,000 on the day Schiffrin met with SWIB?

Remember how much attention was paid in the Georgia Thompson trial to a claim that she had said a contract award "would not fly politically"

The SWIB's Johnson clearly thought the contact from Schiffrin via Bauer was a "political run," as he said in his e-mail.

The fact that Schiffrin's firm wasn't hired is beside the point.

When does the investigation begin?
Journal Sentinel coverage is more direct:
Funding web gets more tangled
Attorney general has ties to Doyle funder

Madison - Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has ties to a Philadelphia-area lawyer her office is investigating over a meeting last year with Gov. Jim Doyle's top aide.

The state Department of Justice disclosed this week that it is reviewing an April 6, 2005, meeting set up by Doyle's campaign fund-raiser in a state office between attorney Richard Schiffrin of Schiffrin & Barroway and then-Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, who is now the Democratic governor's campaign chairman.

That same day, Schiffrin gave Doyle $10,000, the maximum allowed under state law.

Lautenschlager herself met with Schiffrin a day earlier over lunch, at which he delivered a $5,000 donation from his wife, Barbara. Also attending the meeting was Schiffrin & Barroway attorney Nick Pullen, who had previously talked to Lautenschlager about working on her campaign.
Can't wait for the Cap Times.

PS: Not a word from Fighting Ed Garvey, who rails every day on his blog about money and politics. Of course, he and the Cap Times are Lautenschlager's biggest boosters.


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