By way of background, the Milwaukee County prosecutor, John Chisholm, decided to harness his office to Wisconsin’s misnamed ‘Government Accountability Board’ in order to harass Governor Scott Walker and jail, bankrupt or terrify as many of his allies as possible. To this end, innocent people had their doors kicked in, their homes rifled, possessions confiscated and then were forbidden to talk about it. Had Chisholm, whose interest in the case seems to be directly related to his wife being a teacher’s union official, picked on people unable to fight we might not even know of the abuses he perpetrated. As it turned out, some of the targets had the wherewithal to fight him.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court expressed amazement at the scope of the investigation:
The breadth of the documents gathered pursuant to subpoenas and seized pursuant to search warrants is amazing. Millions of documents, both in digital and paper copy, were subpoenaed and/or seized. Deputies seized business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys. The special prosecutor obtained virtually every document possessed by the Unnamed Movants relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span (from 2009 to 2013). Such documents were subpoenaed and/or seized without regard to content or relevance to the alleged violations of Ch. 11. As part of this dragnet, the special prosecutor also had seized wholly irrelevant information, such as retirement income statements, personal financial account information, personal letters, and family photos.
The court went on to rebuke the prosecutor for how the investigation had been handled:
Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points. It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a “perfect storm” of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.
Category Archives: Wisconsin
I understand that Scott Walker is not a perfect Presidential candidate. I understand that his initial foray into dealing with the national press was less than ideal and I haven’t been crazy about his blatant pandering on immigration. I also understand that he lacks the rhetorical flair and stage appeal of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
And this is a big but. Scott Walker for all his flaws knows how to extend a giant middle finger to the anti-American left and he isn’t the slightest bit shy about doing it. That counts for a lot, not just with me but with a huge portion of the GOP primary electorate who has been begging for someone who could prove that you can win elections and govern effectively while taking on liberal sacred cows at the same time. Scott Walker seems determined to be that guy and so far it is working.
What was the story that dominated the news all week last week? The tragic shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. Immediately, everyone on the left attempted to pin this one on one of two things – a) guns or b) the confederate flag. The sun hadn’t even gone down the day of the massacre before President Obama had stood behind a lectern and solemnly – and wildly incorrectly – blamed the whole incident on American gun culture. Virtually every other liberal commentator on the planet took the cue from Obama to wag their heads sadly and lecture the country on our lamentable lack of “sensible” gun laws.
Most elected Republicans we all know would have kept their heads down on the gun issue until the public furor over Charleston died down, then hoped that the status quo pro-gun American sensibility would have reasserted itself. But not Scott Walker. Walker understands, if nothing else, that the quickest way to lose a battlefield is to desert it. And so, less than a week after the Charleston shooting, Scott Walker was publicly signing two laws making it easier for the citizens of Wisconsin to own guns.
Scott Walker has something of a dull personality, but he makes up for that in large part by basically having a large klaxon affixed to his head that constantly blares profane insults to and about liberals. There are plenty of people out there who have similar klaxons, but Walker is the only one I know of who won three statewide elections in a blue state and who still continues to command a governing coalition in his home state legislature.
The challenge for Walker now is to become the same guy on the campaign trail that he is in the governor’s mansion. It’s less than two months until the first debate, and some of the luster has worn off. He has time to get it back with the field being largely wide open, but in order for him to regain his position he will need to recapture at least some of the shine that Rubio has, for now, stolen away.
There is not, and has not been for a long time, a question of the existence of overwhelming liberal bias at institutions of higher education. The inquiries into the phenomenon focus on why that structural bias exists and persists. Whatever the reasons, it’s easy to understand why the liberal establishment wants to protect the biased architecture of American education.
And protect it they do. A college degree has become a kind of certification for entry into many of the higher reaches of the American economy. The government benefits from this financially by running the student-loan scheme, which drives up tuition costs and thus benefits not only big government but its liberal allies in academic administration.
And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle, which is why Democrats are so keen to guard it jealously. The system as it’s currently set up means educational attainment correlates, in general, to higher income. But that education gets increasingly expensive, which puts it in easier reach of those with higher income, who tend to have more education, etc. As the Economist notes, “the best predictor of an American child’s success in school has long been the parents’ educational level”–though money, which is also now related to educational level, “is an increasingly important factor.”
The Democrats’ approach thus perpetuates inequality, which they blame on “the rich” in order to win national office, which they use to perpetuate this system of inequality–another cycle.
Scott Walker calls this whole scheme into question. It’s not that his experience teaches that you don’t need a college degree to get a good job; it’s that you shouldn’t need to need a college degree to have professional and/or political success. Kids shouldn’t be discouraged from going to college and getting their degree as long as the current system persists, in which it usually makes sense for them to get that degree (if they can).
The point is that the system itself shouldn’t persist, at least in its current form. Walker, then, is living proof that the system can and should be reformed, and the world won’t end. Walker is representative of the potential of those outside the liberal economic elite and those who are severely underserved by the government’s college racket and union-friendly approach to education. That’s why Walker’s personal story matters, and why it’s such a threat to the left.
The targets of a politically charged investigation in Wisconsin are now targeting the state’s Government Accountability Board, alleging in a lawsuit the agency that oversees election and campaign finance law has created a “Frankenstein monster” out of its enforcement authority.
The GAB has “exceeded its statutory authority and evaded its statutory obligations by pursuing and funding a far-reaching criminal investigation into virtually every conservative-leaning group in Wisconsin,” according to the lawsuit, filed Friday morning in Waukesha County Circuit Court by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, and on “behalf of others similarly situated.”
O’Keefe takes particular aim at the GAB and its involvement in the John Doe probe, a nearly three-year investigation into 29 conservative issue advocacy organizations.
The court-administered dragnet, launched in late summer 2012 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt, O’Keefe asserts in a civil rights lawsuit filed earlier this year in federal court against John Doe prosecutors.
In that complaint, O’Keefe argues that the prosecutors violated his First Amendment rights via an investigation that, sources say, involved pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style” raids on the homes of conservative targets.
And it was all done with the backing of the Government Accountability Board, using powers not ascribed to the board, O’Keefe’s lawsuit alleges.
On May 8th, federal Judge Rudolph Randa ordered prosecutors to halt their months-long investigation. Wide ranging subpoenas – which I’ve seen – demanded that some conservative non-profit groups turn over lists of donors, strategy memos, fundraising pitches and other internal documents. Pre-dawn raids at the homes of several conservatives gathered personal computers and records so prosecutors could search for evidence of a potential crime.
Targeted organizations and individuals fought back, suing in federal court to say that their free speech and 4th Amendment rights were being violated. Prosecutors argued that they needed to use their power to raid and subpoena so they could find out if there was cause to file felony charges alleging illegal coordination between political and non-profit groups, and between donors and the groups they support.
It was a terrifying abuse of power by prosecutors bent on exacting political revenge on only one side of the ideological spectrum while forcing hostage groups, operatives, and donors to be silent or face certain felony charges. Thankfully, Judge Randa put an end to the liberal prosecutorial jihad.
Transparency is only a virtue to liberals when it applies to conservatives or serves as a helpful talking point.
This gentleman violently inserted his finger into dozens of victims’ anuses. Sometimes his friends held guns to the victims’ heads to force them to comply. Why was he sentenced to just two years in prison? Because he was an officer with the Milwaukee police department!
I bet he won’t find it as “fun” as he thought…
New twist for the unions! Or maybe it’s AGAINST the unions…
Arguably, the biggest state education story of 2011 was the political war between Wisconsin teachers’ unions and GOP Gov. Scott Walker over the latter’s ultimately successful proposal (Act 10) to severely restrict collective bargaining rights for educators in the state. But as the law has labored its way through and been tested in the state’s courts, there’s been an interesting development—a small group of teachers has filed suit to uphold some of the act’s provisions.
The recent news involves recertification. The Wisconsin Education Association Council has a useful tipsheet on what recertification means, but essentially if a local union is “recertified” through an annual vote by its members, it can officially represent school employees to districts in negotiations, although under Act 10 the unions have extremely little leverage in those negotiations. Historically, the union points out, recertifying in this fashion has never existed, and WEAC has stressed to members that the process, instituted by Walker’s Act 10, “does not define us as a union” since the local union can exist and support members without getting recertified.
Why does this matter? As Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, these recertification elections are difficult for unions to win. Opponents of Act 10 say that was Walker’s whole purpose: Elections in which the union loses its recertification bid are cynically designed to show “union failure.” Statistically, that argument isn’t always born out though: In 2011, out of 206 school-employee union recertification elections, 177 unions were recertified. But many unions don’t seek to recertify because of the high vote threshold required.
If this weren’t true, it’d be laughable. Oh, wait. It’s still laughable…
There is a hilarious scene in the Monty Python movie Life of Brian where a trial is taking place of a man who allegedly said the word “Jehovah.” If he is convicted, he will be stoned to death. But the word “Jehovah” is so forbidden that no one can say it even at the trial. Eventually, the judge himself accidentally says “Jehovah” and is stoned to death.
In fact, every time the words “raw milk” are about to come up during the proceedings, the jury is ushered out of the room. It happened Monday morning and again Tuesday afternoon.
It would be funny if conviction for Hershberger didn’t mean jail time — for a father of ten children. Laughter breaks out in the gallery anyway, to the scorn of Judge Guy Reynolds.
The state is arguing that Hershberger violated the law by selling milk (raw) while he was not licensed. But here’s the problem: licensing requires that milk producers sell to a licensed processing plant. If you don’t sell to a plant, you aren’t licensed. At issue is not the fact that Hershberger failed to obtain a license, but that he cannot get a license, period, to sell milk because he was no longer shipping to a plant. Instead, he was attempting to sell raw milk directly to buyers or buying club “members” who had purchased shares in cows. But no one is allowed to say that.
Judge Reynolds ruled in the prosecution’s favor before the trial started that there will be no discussion of whether Hershberger had criminal intent in not obtaining a license, no discussion of the safety of raw milk and no discussion even of why his farm was raided in 2010.
When the defense tried to bring evidence of a second page of the licensing forms, the prosecution objected that it was extraneous. “This gets into the conditions of…well you can see what it gets into, judge,” the lead prosecutor said. Out goes the jury.
A telling moment during Tuesday’s testimony was when Teresa Butterworth, witness for the prosecution and employee of DATCP’s Bureau of Food Safety & Inspection whose responsibility it is to license and maintain dairy farm records, could not tell the defense what dairy plants do. Lead defense attorney Glenn Reynolds (no relation to the judge): “What do dairy plants do?” Butterworth: “I don’t know.” Later she stated: “I just process the paperwork.”
By circumscribing so narrowly the rules of engagement before the trial even began — despite the defense attorneys’ best efforts — the state is counting on the jury to also just process the paperwork.
“I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.
Aha, what’s so special about the cheesemakers?
Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.” – Life of Brian or in this case, Life of Hershberger…
The AFL-CIO has told Washington Whispers it will redeploy funds away from political candidates smack dab in the middle of election season, the latest sign that the largest federation of unions in the country could be becoming increasingly disillusioned with President Obama.
The federation says the shift has been in the works for months, and had nothing to do with the president’s failure to show in Wisconsin last week, where labor unions led a failed recall election of Governor Scott Walker.
“We wanted to start investing our funds in our own infrastructure and advocacy,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein told Whispers. “There will be less contributions to candidates,” including President Obama.
While there were “a lot of different opinions” about whether Obama should have gone to Wisconsin, according to Goldstein, “this is not a slight at the president.”
The AFL-CIO has been at odds with the president before Wisconsin on issues such as the public health insurance option and renewing the Bush tax cuts.
The shift in funding is significant due to the federation’s role in past presidential campaigns, where the AFL-CIO built up a massive political structure in the months leading up the election, including extensive “Get Out The Vote” efforts, as well as financial contributions.
This time around, Goldstein says, the federation wants to build a more long-lasting structure, giving “different kinds of support to different candidates.”
And that may mean more politically independent candidates.
In a May speech at the National Press Club, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka threatened to reduce support for the Democratic party and launch “an independent labor movement” if Democrats didn’t more fully support the union agenda.
“We will change the way we spend, the way we do things and the way we function that creates power for workers,” Trumka said, according to the Associated Press.
AFL-CIO donated $1.2 million to Democrats in 2008, and $900,000 in 2010, according to the Christian Post. It is unclear how much will be donated in 2012.
In April, the Huffington Post reported that Workers’ Voice, the super PAC arm of the AFL-CIO, was also changing its funding structure.
In an “unprecedented” move for organized labor, Workers’ Voice gave control of its $4.1 million in funds over to both union and non-union members who participate in campaign activities, including phone banking or canvassing.
On its website, Workers’ Voice promises: “Make phone calls, knock on doors… and you’ll earn the ability to direct dollars towards… your local or federal candidate of choice.”
Come fall, that choice may or may not be Obama.
Update, 1:55 p.m.:
Goldstein clarifies that in the new deployment of funds, “Some candidates will get more, some less, some the same — but overall we’ll be focused more on spending resources to build our own structure [that] works for working people instead of others’ own structures.”
In retrospect, there were two conspicuous giveaways that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was headed for victory in last week’s recall election.
One was that the Democrats’ campaign against him wound up focusing on just about everything but Walker’s law limiting collective bargaining rights for government workers. Sixteen months ago, the Capitol building in Madison was besieged by rioting protesters hell-bent on blocking the changes by any means necessary. Union members and their supporters, incandescent with rage, likened Walker to Adolf Hitler and cheered as Democratic lawmakers fled the state in a bid to force the legislature to a standstill. Once the bill passed, unions and Democrats vowed revenge, and amassed a million signatures on recall petitions.
But the more voters saw of the law’s effects, the more they liked it. Dozens of school districts reported millions in savings, most without resorting to layoffs. Property taxes fell. A $3.6 billion state budget deficit turned into a $154 million projected surplus. Walker’s measures proved a tonic for the economy, and support for restoring the status quo ante faded — even among Wisconsin Democrats. Long before Election Day, Democratic challenger Tom Barrett had all but dropped the issue of public-sector collective bargaining from his campaign to replace Walker.
The second harbinger was the plunge in public-employee union membership. The most important of Walker’s reforms, the change Big Labor had fought most bitterly, was ending the automatic withholding of union dues. That made union membership a matter of choice, not compulsion — and tens of thousands of government workers chose to toss their union cards. More than one-third of the Wisconsin members of the American Federation of Teachers quit, reported The Wall Street Journal. At the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, one of the state’s largest unions, the hemorrhaging was worse: AFSCME’s Wisconsin rolls shrank by more than 34,000 over the past year, a 55 percent nose-dive.
Did government workers tear up their union cards solely because the union had lost its right to bargain collectively on their behalf? That’s doubtful: Even under the new law, unions still negotiate over salaries. More likely, public-sector employees ditched their unions for the same reasons so many employees in the private sector — which is now less than 7 percent unionized — have done so: Many never wanted to join a union in the first place. Others were repelled by the authoritarian, belligerent, and left-wing political culture that entrenched unionism so often embodies.
Even before the votes in Wisconsin were cast, remarked Michael Barone last week, Democrats and public-employee unions “had already lost the battle of ideas over the issue that sparked the recall.” Their tantrums and slanders didn’t just fail to intimidate Walker and Wisconsin lawmakers from reining in public-sector collective bargaining. They also gave the public a good hard look at what government unionism is apt to descend to. The past 16 months amounted to an extended seminar on the danger of combining collective bargaining with government jobs. Voters watched — and learned.
There was a time when even pro-labor Democrats like Franklin D. Roosevelt would have regarded it as obvious that collective bargaining was incompatible with public employment. Even the legendary AFL-CIO leader George Meany once took it for granted that there could be no “right” to bargain collectively with the government.
When unions bargain with management in the private sector, both sides are contending for a share of the private profits that labor helps produce — and both sides are constrained by the pressures of market discipline. Managers can’t ignore the company’s bottom line. Unions know that if they demand too much, they may cost the company its competitive edge.
But when labor and management bargain in the public sector, they are divvying up public funds, not private profits. Government bureaucrats don’t have to worry about losing business to their competitors; state agencies can’t relocate to another part of the country. There is little incentive to hold down wages and benefits, since the taxpayers who will be picking up the tab have no seat at the table. On the other hand, government managers have a powerful motivation to yield to government unions: Union members vote.
In 1959, when Wisconsin became the first state to enact a public-sector collective-bargaining law, it wasn’t widely understood what the distorted incentives of government unionism would lead to. Five decades later, the wreckage is all around us. The privileges that come with government work — hefty automatic pay raises, Cadillac pension plans, iron-clad job security, ultra-deluxe health insurance policies — have in many cases grown outlandish and staggeringly unaffordable. What Keith Geiger, the former head of the National Education Association, once referred to as “ our sledgehammer, the collective bargaining process,” has wreaked havoc on state and municipal budgets nationwide.
Now, at long last, the pendulum has reversed. The 50-year mistake of public-sector unions is being corrected. Walker’s victory is a heartening reminder that in a democracy, even the most entrenched bad ideas can sometimes be unentrenched. On, Wisconsin!