Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Vos and Wanggaard

The Center for Media and Democracy filed an ethics and lobbying complaint with the Government Accountability Board against Robin Vos, Van Wanggaard and a whole slew of GOP legislators in Wisconsin on Friday.

(Oops, how is Steve Lovejoy over at the JT going to ignore this new evidence of shady behavior? Never fear, he will totally ignore it. They could catch Vossy with a crack pipe stuck in his butt wearing a suit made of hundred dollar bills and the JT would put an ad on the cover instead.)

Anyhoo... Our old friends over at ALEC decided last year to invite GOP legislators and their families to a day at the ballpark during their spring task force meeting. Fun!

The day included tickets to the Reds/Marlins game, access to the game "party-decks" with food and beverages provided. Super fun!

The event was co-hosted by Time-Warner Cable - it says so on the invitation. Coincidentally, Time Warner - a registered lobbyist in Wisconsin - was set to capitalize on a telecommunications bill (SB 13) working it's way through the legislature and was passed just a few days after the invitations went out. Guess they were in a partying kind of mood.

Wanggaard and Vos were co-sponsors of the bill.

Wisconsin Statute 13.625 prohibits any lobbyist or principal from offering a legislator food, lodging, transportation, beverages or anything of pecuniary value. It also prohibits legislators from accepting any of those things.

Ball park tickets, party decks, food and beverages? Well there's nothing wrong with that...as long as you call it a "scholarship" and not a bribe.

Robin Vos' assistant RSVP'd "yes" for the day at the ball park right away.

ALEC routinely pays "scholarships" in order to reimburse politicians for travel and lodging to their events. It is Robin Vos' job as ALEC state chair to make sure everyone in the state gets their travel "scholarships." Who funds the "scholarships"? The corporate members of ALEC who are registered lobbyists, principals and campaign contributors to these lucky "scholarship" recipients.

This is at the root of the ethics complaint. ALEC "scholarships" violate the law and in our opinion - are actually bribes paid to legislators to pass friendly bills. Even worse, legislators like Van Wanggaard charge taxpayers for their ALEC memberships.

We'll see shortly if the GAB has any appetite to go toe to toe with the most powerful corporate group in the history of mankind.