Friday, September 22, 2006

To lobby or not? Doyle damned either way

Sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Thursday, the do-gooders, politically naive, and Republican partisans all joined the chorus to complain that someone lobbied the State Elections Board on behalf of Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign. Even an editorial writer or two chimed in.

Two years ago, some of the same people criticized Doyle for not lobbying the Elections Board.

The issue then was regulation of issue advocacy campaigns, which the board rejected by a single vote. One of the "no" votes was cast by Martha Love, then a member of the board representing the Democratic Party. The other votes against it all came from Republicans, and the proposal failed 5-4.

Here's what Jay Heck of Common Cause had to say about it:
The commitment of Governor Jim Doyle to this or to any campaign finance reform measure must also be called into serious question yet again. Doyle, the titular head of the state Democratic Party, said he supported this measure but yet again failed to secure enough votes to get it passed. Does anyone seriously doubt that if the Governor had really wanted to see this reform measure passed by the state elections board, that he would have been denied by members of his own political party?

The Democratic appointment of Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha) to the Elections Board changed his no vote in May to yes in support of the reform measure largely because State Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison) had 14 Assembly
Democrats sign a letter to Kreuser's appointment to the board, Carl Holborn, in support of closing the issue ad loophole in August.

Had Governor Doyle called Martha Love--which he did not do-- he could have had secured this reform. He did not and the reform measure lost by a single vote.
Lobbying members of your own party was a good thing then. The end justifies the means, apparently. So it was good that Holborn changed his vote after getting some pressure from Assembly Dems, but bad that he was lobbied via e-mail by the Doyle campaign's attorney?

More from The Badger Herald:
The Elections Board is composed of nine members: four Democrats, three Republicans, one Libertarian and one appointment from the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Martha Love, the only Democrat on the Board to vote against reform, joined the three Republican and one Libertarian Board members, who voted to defeat the proposal.
The outcome of last week's decision has caused some to question Governor Jim Doyle's dedication to campaign finance reform.

However, Melanie Fonder, a spokesperson for Doyle, said the Governor repeatedly made it clear he supports reform and that he is disappointed with the Elections Board ruling...

"This latest episode where Gov. Doyle, who did nothing to convince Martha Love [to vote for reform], is another example of his insincerity for campaign finance reform," Heck said.

Fonder said "it's very unfortunate," but she placed most of the blame on the Republicans. She also noted that if a single Republican had been willing to vote for reform, the legislation would have passed.

"The Governor is disappointed that the Republicans killed this,"Fonder said.
Heck, on the other hand, noted that the Republicans have always opposed reform and were never expected to vote in favor of regulation.
[It is wrong] to suggest that Republicans are to blame here," Heck said.
And a Journal Sentinel story by Steve Walters, the same guy who broke the big "scandal" Thursday:,
Elections Board refuses to regulate 'issue' ads

Democrat joins 3 Republicans, Libertarian to defeat measure, 5-4

Those who have been pushing campaign-finance reform for years lamented the vote and said Doyle should have done more to try getting it approved.

"It's a lost opportunity," said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, a non-profit group that helped negotiate a campaign-finance package that died in the Legislature. "We haven't done anything in this state since 1977 to reform our campaign-finance laws, and that's just astounding."

...Three board members appointed by Republicans, Brant and Milwaukee County Democratic Chairwoman Martha Love voted against the proposed rules. They outvoted Myse and three board members named by Doyle and other Democrats.

Heck and Mike McCabe, executive director of the non-profit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign that monitors campaign cash, blamed Doyle for failing to convince Love to change her vote.

Doyle "says he supports (regulation), but I've yet to see actions backing up those words," McCabe said.
Doyle and his campaign have long opposed the transfer of federal campaign money into a state account. They opposed it when Tom Barrett did it in 2001, and they opposed it when Mark Green did it. This time, the campaign's actions backed up its words. Is everybody happy? I think not.

UPDATE: The plot thickens.


At 10:10 AM, Blogger nosefornews said...

Being a media and politics junkie isn't for the faint of heart. Who was it that said politics ain't beanbag (or some such kids game)?

Politics is a blood sport and both sides exploit the rules to their advantage and the key is to see what you can get away with. Not very inspirational, eh?

Many of us "goo-goos" and even many partisan Democrats and Republicans are fed up with this borderline dishonesty and a mood of throw all the bums out is evident across the land even among the apathetic and uninvolved.

It seems to happen every generation or so and, in the grand scheme of things, it may may a good thing to cleanse the government of entrenched "do nothings" though occasionally an honorable and decent public servant goes down as well.

What Doyle's attorney did appears unseemly and that matters. This race is between two long time pols and there are plenty of skeletons in both their closets.

My preference is clearly the incumbent. But let's admit that "business as usual" ain't acceptable anymore and call for a higher standard of conduct.

The state's largest newspaper is making
this year's election even more grotesque by clearly favoring the GOP in coverage, article placement and headlines. The liberal editorial page hardly offsets this obvious and unconscionable bias.

While I love politics and deeply believe that staying involved and paying attention is the only way to help improve the system, sometimes this stuff makes me feel like I need to take a shower.


At 10:16 AM, Blogger Shades said...

To claim that Doyle's attorney (oh wait - Maistelman - never met the guy - even though he has represented Doyle in front of the SEB for three years) was simply "lobbying" is a joke.

To quote the JS editorial:

"We need to accomplish the following," reads one e-mail to two Democratic board members. Another said, "Even if this ends up in Court, it is a PR victory for us since it makes Green spend money and have to defend the use of his Washington DC dirty money."

We? Us?

The Elections Board counsel is probably correct in saying that no laws were broken. Nonetheless, the ruling in the Green case does not deserve one iota of public confidence.


When someone is lobbying, they don't refer to the plan at hand with inclusive terms - this is called coordiation - and it stinks.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

You got it right!!

"Doyle damned either way."

Not fast enough for me...but after he's outta there, the US Attorney may send him a few greetings letters, too.

BuhBye!! Jimbo

At 11:24 AM, Blogger redvest said...

Well where did Prange figure in on all this. He helped Barrett right? He no doubt new the dangers did he pass that info on to Diamond Jim's attorney's? Lord knows with Hurtgeninthe bind that he's in I'll bet you 5 gets ten that they've been communicating plenty with the feds all over their ass. This is the kind of Political Corruption that is killing this country. It is so cynical. It says we can give to both sides as long as our indvidual interests are served doing business with the State. It's just disgusting and leads to more and more corruption so, in must be rooted out. Doyle, Marotta, Hurtgen, Prange don't let the door hit you in the behind on your way out!!!

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Ben Masel said...

A note on the Libertarian seat....

Kirby Brant, who held it until last spring turned out to be effectively a Republican mole. He resigned when the LP came out strongly against the silly marriage amendment. Jacob Burns was not on the Board until early this summer. I nominated him in my last act on the WI Libertarian Executive Board on the stregnth of his tech savvy, valuable in examining the particulars of electronic voting systems. At 22, he's the youngest Statewide officeholder in Wisconsin.


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