Friday, October 06, 2006

A truly clean Elections Board

State Rep. Dave Travis has proposed a no-contact rule for members of the State Elections Board while they are considering a case.

That, I guess, because someone actually lobbied board members on an issue they were considering -- Congressman Mark Green's illegal transfer of $467,000 in federal special interest money to his governor's race.

Opines Travis, who's been around the Capitol since I was a reporter a few eons ago, and therefore should know better:
"Judges and members of the Public Service Commission may not discuss specific cases coming before them with anyone—not friends, family or anybody. The Elections Board, or any body created to replace it, should be placed under the same restriction."

"People who appoint members, or their surrogates, shouldn’t be giving members instructions on how to vote on pending cases," Travis said.
Ah, yes, the judicial standard -- the one that hasn't prevented so many political entanglements that there isn't a single State Supreme Court justice who can hear the Green case without some sort of conflict, real or perceived.

Maybe the board should be made up of nuns or monks. Judges clearly are not clean enough.

WisPolitics reported today that Board Chairman John Savage, a Republican appointee, has given Green's campaign for governor $1,250 this year. Do you think he needed to be lobbied on how to vote on Green's money? He voted Green's way, no doubt on the merits.

Board members are appointed by politicians and political parties. They are not judges; they are partisans. No contact? No lobbying? No contributions to candidates?

This silliness is all headed in the direction of the rules the goo-goos seem to think should be applied to state contracts -- No one can get a contract if you ever met or talked with them, if they have ever contributed to your campaign, or might possibly contribute to it in the future.

Only perfect strangers could get state contracts. And only people that the political leaders choosing them had never heard of could be chosen to serve on the Elections Board.

Who's going to introduce the bill?

5 Comments:

At 11:15 PM, Blogger Russell Wallace said...

Hey Xoff, I'm just wondering if you'd be quite so dismissive about Miller's attempts to fix things if the SEB had just made a decision that had hurt a Democratic candidate due to lobbying by a sitting Republican Governor?

Or do you simply believe it's a waste of time to try to get government to act in the best interests of the governed, rather than those of elected officials?

It pretty much comes down to one or the other.

 
At 11:17 PM, Blogger Russell Wallace said...

Oops, Travis' attempts to fix things...

 
At 7:07 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

I've seen the Elections Board go both ways. It's not about who won or lost on the last decision. I'm the one who first raised the issue of whether Tom Barrett could transfer his federal money and lost that decision. Lawyers on both sides were lobbying.

As long as the board consists of political appointees, it's going to be political. It's not a court, and there is nothing wrong with lobyying, especially by lawyers for parties who have an interest in the case. If that's banned, the board would be at the mercy of its own legal counsel, George Dunst, whose advice is less than reliable or consistent, and which the board frequently ignores. His take on the Green decision was that the money had already been spent. The board and the judge didn't buy it, and Green quickly abandoned that argument, too.

Changing the board and the way its appointed makes sense. But a no-contact rule under the current structure doesn't.

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger Shades said...

But what Doyle's attorney did is not sonsidered lobbying. He coordinated with members of the SEB to not only insert specific language in the ruling, but come to a decision PRIOR to hearing evidence and testimony.

To have board members secure a decision prior to a hearing is absurd, and unethical. We'll all find out if it was illegal.

That biggest fallacy is to call what they did lobbying. The coordinated a pre-hearing decision, then waited until after to annouce a decision that basically written by a Doyle attorney days before.

WHy would the attorney offer up political cover to the board members if he didn't already know what they were doind was suspect?

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger Ben Masel said...

Funny you raise should nuns and monks, when the most discussed 'reform' of the Boards makeup, Senate Bill 1, would have a "non-partisan" Board appointed by the Deans of the UW and Marquette law schools. Church/State issues creep in, but even if Marquette were secular, there'd be a politicization of the selection of future Deans.

The reality is, as we see with City Councils and County Boards, there's no such thing as non-partisan anymore.

The current Elections Board is unique, in that thanks to Ed Thompson hitting the 10% threshold, there's a Libertarian on the Board, and his vote on the Green money diffuses the "partisan decision" charge.

The seat only comes from a Prty's Governor Candidate hitting the magic number, so that contest is uniquely not winner take all. Indeed, Eisman would do well to overtly pitch his campaign on "sure, I can't win, just get me to 10%."

My fix? Set the basis for a Party to receive representation to the 1% for any Constitutional office standard whichqualifies a Party for the ballot, with overall numbers such that any 1 Party would not hold a majority.

 

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