Friday, December 29, 2006

JIM DOYLE FINED FOR BEING A CROOK


December 28, 2006

Governor fined for taking Packers tickets
By Ben Jones
Post-Crescent Madison bureau chief

MADISON — Gov. Jim Doyle will pay a $300 fine for violating the state’s ethics laws by accepting Packers tickets from a firm engaged in lobbying.


The state Ethics Board announced today that it has imposed the penalty for Doyle’s acceptance of corporate skybox tickets for a Dec. 7, 2003, game at Lambeau Field.

The board also imposed $300 penalties on Doyle’s campaign committee; Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, the company that provided the tickets; and Ron Antonneau, a lobbyist employed by the firm.

According to a news release from the state Ethics Board, Doyle paid the $63 face value for the tickets to attend a game in a WPS box but the exchange was not permitted under law.

“Wisconsin’s lobbying law, perhaps the strictest in the nation, does not permit exchanges between a state governmental official and a business that employs a lobbyist,” the release said.

“Wisconsin Public Service Corporation readily acknowledged that it does not offer football tickets and premium seating at Lambeau Field to the general public.”

Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow issued a statement that said Doyle’s office “works hard to ensure that we comply with all standards and rules.”

“Over three years ago, on Dec. 7, 2003, Gov. Doyle attended a Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game,” he said. “This was consistent with the practice of governors over many years.

"Obviously, the Packers are an important part of Wisconsin, and a Packers-Bears game is always a special event. The tickets were all paid for in a manner this office believed was proper.

“The Ethics Board has recently raised questions about the manner of payment. The governor respects the board’s concerns and has agreed to a settlement of the matter.”

Doyle’s office on Thursday declined to comment beyond the statement.

According to the Ethics Board, Doyle accepted five tickets from WPS, including one for himself, two for his son and two for his son’s friends. His campaign committee reimbursed $63 for one of the tickets and Doyle paid the utility $63 for each of the other four tickets.

According to the board, during the 2003-04 session, WPS “employed four lobbyists and spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars trying to influence more than a dozen bills dealing with topics such as utilities’ payments to local governments.”

The Post-Crescent reported in October that Doyle frequently attends games at Lambeau Field, but it’s difficult for the public to discern through public records whether the candidates were at the games in their official capacity, who provided the tickets, and whether the money came from public, private or campaign pockets.

It is also difficult to get this information from Doyle and his staff.

The WPS tickets, which were listed in a campaign finance report, were among a number of tickets Doyle and his staff declined to provide specifics about. They also declined to say whether Doyle has ever accepted tickets from a lobbyist or a company seeking business from the state.

“You can be sure that we follow all of the laws correctly,” Doyle said in a short October interview in Lomira.

As recently as last week, Doyle still was not answering questions about how he handles Packers tickets.

Doyle, through his staff, offered The Post-Crescent an interview on Thursday at the Executive Residence but said in advance the governor would not speak about game tickets or government ethics.

The Post-Crescent declined the interview because of the conditions put on it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

JIM DOYLE -- OUR NIXONIAN GOVERNOR


THURSDAY, Sept. 28, 2006, 8:47 a.m.
OUR NIXONIAN GOVERNOR

(Note: This column appears in the Madison weekly Isthmus.)
By Charles Sykes

I’m sorry now that I once said Jim Doyle looks like a cross between a basset hound and Richard Nixon.

It was unfair to the hound and trivializes the Nixonian side of Doyle’s character. Make no mistake, the chilling aspect of last week’s banana republic moment at the state Elections Board was its Nixonian overtones.

“What’s really scary about this,” one business leader told me, “is that we have now have a governor who is willing to use the powers of government to punish political appointees. This time, it’s the Elections Board. Next time, will it be the Department of Revenue? The DNR?”

You probably know the story: In trying to rig a vote of the state Elections Board involving Republican Mark Green, a lawyer for the Doyle campaign laid out the strategy to Democratic appointees. The goal was to embarrass Green by retroactively changing elections rules and forcing him to return more than $400,000 he had transferred from his federal account.

That sort of transfer had been considered legal for 28 years and when former Democratic Congressman Tom Barrett did the same thing, the Elections Board said it was perfectly okay. But the Doyle team, faced with mounting scandals, set out to find some way to accuse Green of being as much of a crook as the governor.

The clock was running. Doyle Administration official Georgia Thompson had been convicted of a felony for rigging a state contract to benefit a contributor to the Doyle campaign. (At her sentencing last week, she got 18 months.) The federal investigation is ongoing and the media continue a steady drip of stories about state contracts with suspicious links to Doyle campaign cash.

And so Doyle’s lawyer, Michael Maistelman, reached out to Election Board members. The board then voted 4-3 (three Democrats joined by a Green Party rep) to ignore the advice of its own lawyer, George Dunst, who had said Green’s transfer should be allowed to stand. It declared the transfer illegal and ordered Green to divest himself of the cash, just two months before the November election.

Almost immediately, Doyle began a television ad barrage attacking Green for his “illegal money.”

That, of course, was the whole point.

In an e-mail the day before the vote, Maistelman advised one Election Board member that “the Gov’s Campaign and the Dem party and others will give you cover on this in the media. 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.”

In other words, it wasn’t about the law; it was about using the board’s actions to damage Doyle’s opponent. The language could hardly have been balder.

Other e-mails recount how Maistelman got other appointees “on board” the plan to whack Green. At one point, he assured a supine board member, “I ran this by the powers that be and was given a ‘green’ light on this idea.” The strings had been well and surely pulled; the supposedly independent watchdog had been turned into a plaint lapdog.

Much of the media have taken to calling Maistelman’s involvement “lobbying” the Elections Board. It wasn’t. The lawyer for the Democratic governor was giving marching orders to his party’s appointees, who promptly complied.

This, in itself, is hardly news. In fact, it could be argued that it’s perfectly consistent with the way this governor has done business. But who knew his minions would be so arrogant as to actually put it in writing?

Doyle’s response has been predictable. He denied knowing that Maistelman was his lawyer (yeah, that’s the ticket); seized on a story that a GOP official had also called a member of the Elections Board (apparently to ask, “Is it true the Dems are going to screw Green?”); and has continued to run ads decrying Green’s “dirty money,” while the dispute wends its way through the courts. In other words, the scheme worked exactly as planned.

As collateral damage, the gambit exposed the lawmakers (primarily Republican) who scuttled plans to reform the absurd practice of letting partisan hacks dominate the Elections Board.

But primarily, it gave us a glimpse of the new face of politics in Wisconsin. Doyle defenders have half a point when they note that Doyle did not invent aggressive fundraising or hardball politics, citing his predecessors including Pat Lucey and Tommy Thompson.

What they gloss over, however, is how far Doyle has taken this – from the shakedown of companies bidding for state contracts to the casual cynicism of his political thuggery. It is one thing to use spin to cover deficiencies of substance, but Doyle has turned to outright deception and official bullying to cover up an ethical meltdown.

In 1972, Richard Nixon survived Watergate to win a second term. Doyle may well survive Travelgate and other scandals, but his second term could well turn out to be as eventful as his new role model’s
***
UPDATE:
I received this email from local consultant George Mitchell:

Charlie,

Stepping back from the fray, it is just plain discouraging to realize if a straight arrow like Mark Green loses it will because Jim Doyle — of all people — prevented him for using legally raised funds. Walters' story today on the joke of an institution that is our Elections Board makes this all the more troubling. Doyle has raised more "dirty money" than any candidate for Governor...EVER...and he caps that off by rigging the Elections Board vote.

Think what it will be like in Madison for the next four years...and beyond...if Doyle is re-elected. He will have debased the office of Governor and gotten away with it.

George

Exactly.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DIRTY TRICKS FROM DESPERATE TEAM DOYLE


Doyle lawyer urged sanction

He lobbied 3 on Elections Board before Green vote

By STEVEN WALTERS
swalters@journalsentinel.com

Posted: Sept. 20, 2006

Madison - A lawyer for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign repeatedly lobbied three Democratic members of the State Elections Board before they voted with the majority to order Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green to divest $467,844 in donations from out-of-state political action committees, records show.

Attorney Michael S. Maistelman bluntly told Democratic Party members of the board he contacted why they should publicly sanction or punish the Green campaign, according to documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel under the state's open records law.

"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," Maistelman said in a 9:31 a.m. e-mail one day before the vote. He sent the message to Carl Holborn and Kerry Dwyer, board members appointed by Democratic leaders of the Legislature.

Holborn, Dwyer and another Democratic appointee, Robert Kasieta, were part of a five-vote majority that gave Green's campaign 10 days to divest itself of $467,844 in donations from political action committees not registered in Wisconsin - an order the Green campaign will fight in a Dane County courtroom today.

Maistelman declined to be interviewed but told the Journal Sentinel in an e-mail that he was working for the Doyle campaign when he contacted Elections Board members. He noted that it was the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - and not the Doyle campaign - that filed the complaint about Green's political action committee donations that was upheld by the board.

"I'm an elections lawyer retained in connection with a matter before the Elections Board," said Maistelman, who campaign finance records show has been paid more than $21,000 by the Doyle campaign since January 2004.

"Of course I had conversations with the board members about the legal issues involved in this case, and the merits of Congressman Green's arguments, as I'm sure counsel for Green did," Maistelman said.

Asked why the Doyle campaign hired Maistelman, spokesman Anson Kaye said that Green's campaign "broke the law" by taking the $467,844.

"There was an important matter before the Elections Board," Kaye said. "We retained an attorney to advocate on our behalf, just as the Green campaign did."

Mark Graul, Green's campaign manager, said "nobody from the Green campaign" contacted any Elections Board member before the board's vote Aug. 30. The Journal Sentinel's open records request turned up no e-mail correspondence between Green aides and Elections Board members.

Green's argument

On the day the board voted, a lawyer for the Green campaign argued that the campaign should not have to divest itself of the PAC money. Green's lawyer, Don Millis, said that over the years, the board had approved three similar transfers.

Eric Schutt, Green's deputy campaign manager, on Wednesday called the documents outlining Maistelman's actions "yet another example of Jim Doyle manipulating state government for political gain."

"The information provided in these e-mails proves the decision was made well in advance of the State Elections Board meeting and that the decision was orchestrated by Jim Doyle's attorney," Schutt said.

Maistelman's contacts with the three board members were legal, said board legal counsel George Dunst. Any member of the public, and officials of the Green campaign, could have contacted board members to argue their position before the vote, Dunst said.

Dwyer noted, "Certainly, people contact us - that's what happens when you are in our positions."

The controversy over the Election Board's decision in the Green case has revived a debate over whether the board should be abolished. A move to combine the Elections and Ethics boards, and give the new merged board more authority to investigate corruption, passed the state Senate but died in the Assembly this year.

Avoided 'walking quorum'

E-mails and other documents obtained under the open records law show that Maistelman carefully chose which board members to lobby to avoid a potentially illegal "walking quorum" of board members scheduled to vote on Aug. 30 on whether to penalize Green's campaign.

At one point, Maistelman noted that another Democratic board member, Sherwin Hughes, Doyle's designee on the board, must be kept "out of the (contact) loop as I do not want to run into a violation of the Open Meetings laws."

The records show that Maistelman targeted Democratic board members Kasieta, Dwyer and Holborn with his e-mails and calls, and a visit to Kasieta's office, to advocate that the board find a way to punish Green's campaign.

Maistelman also suggested ways to do it.

"We need to accomplish the following," Maistelman e-mailed Holborn and Dwyer at 9:30 a.m. on the day before the Elections Board vote. In the same e-mail, Maistelman suggested possible anti-Green decisions the board could make.

In another e-mail the same day, Maistelman told the three Democrats that Holburn had suggested to him that the Elections Board "give Green an opportunity to get the out-of-state PACs registered so the (board) looks reasonable."

Maistelman added that he had run that idea "by the powers that be," and they had approved it.

Asked whom his comment referred to, Maistelman said he "was dealing with Dan Schooff on a regular basis on this matter, and we discussed possible legal remedies from time to time."

Schooff is Doyle's re-election campaign manager. Before joining the campaign, he was a state Public Service Commission official and member of the Assembly.

Holburn said he listens to Maistelman sometimes and at other times doesn't respond to his calls and e-mails.

Kasieta, who was out of town and not available for comment Wednesday, was appointed to the board by the state Democratic Party chairman.

Hughes and Libertarian Party designee Jacob Burns voted with the three other board members lobbied by Maistelman; two Republican board members backed Green. One non-partisan board member was absent, and the ninth member, a Republican designee, did not participate because of a conflict of interest

John Savage and John Schober, the two Republican members of the board who voted against sanctioning Green's campaign, responded to the newspaper's open records request by saying they did not have any documents covered by the request.

The $467,844 in question was legally given to Green's congressional campaign but was part of $1.3 million he transferred to his state campaign fund in January 2005.

Rule changed next day

The transfer came one day before the Elections Board adopted a rule requiring that all money spent on campaigns for governor must be given by political action committees registered with the state.

Maistelman was present on Aug. 30 when the Elections Board took its action against Green's campaign and talked to some board members before the vote. The same day, he denied that he was there working for the Doyle campaign.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Citizens Allied for Sane Highways: Doyle’s lost his mind


Citizens Allied for Sane Highways: Doyle’s lost his mind
9/15/2006

For more information contact
Robert Trimmier (414) 232-1466 or
Gretchen Schuldt (414) 331-0724

Sept. 15 – Gov. Jim Doyle’s unfunded proposal to rebuild the Zoo Interchange at the same time the unfunded North-South I-94 reconstruction project is scheduled to be underway is fiscal, planning, and congestion lunacy, Citizens Allied for Sane Highways said Friday.

CASH is a coalition formed to oppose freeway expansion in Milwaukee.

“This is a cheap election year ploy to win Waukesha County votes Doyle is not going to get anyway,” CASH co-chair Robert Trimmier said. “The $27 million to $28 million Doyle says he will propose for Zoo Interchange environmental and engineering studies ought to come from his campaign fund. This is the most expensive campaign commercial on record, and he’s charging it to the taxpayers of Wisconsin.”

Rebuilding North-South I-94 and the Zoo Interchange at the same time is sure to drive up the costs of both projects, since the state will be competing against itself for workers and equipment.

The North-South project may well cost more than $2 billion. The Zoo Interchange project would add at least several hundred million dollars to the price tag.

The simultaneous projects in and around Milwaukee also would create gridlock in the city, discouraging visitors and costing residents time and money while greatly increasing frustration.

“Doyle needs to explain today – before we spend millions and millions on pre-construction studies – how the state is going to pay for this project,” CASH co-chair Gretchen Schuldt said. “The federal government isn’t going to have the money – is Doyle advocating toll roads, higher taxes, or both?”

“Doyle wants to drain the entire Transportation Fund into the Milwaukee area,” Trimmier said. “The message to the rest of the state is: Drop dead.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

RPW: Asks Public Integrity Unit to Investigate Doyle Administration


RPW: Asks Public Integrity Unit to Investigate Doyle Administration
8/18/2006

Contact: Bob Delaporte, (608) 257-4765

(Madison, WI)...The Republican Party of Wisconsin is asking The Department of Justice's Public Integrity Unit to investigate the actions of Jim Doyle's campaign chair, Marc Marotta. This week, a Madison television station revealed that for at least the second time, Doyle's top aide may have given a campaign donor an unfair and illegal edge on a lucrative state contract.

Channel 27 News in Madison reported that Marotta met directly with the head of a firm just before they were awarded a $68.7 million dollar state contract. That company rewarded Marotta's boss, Jim Doyle, with $51,000, at least, in campaign donations. The Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Rick Wiley, says the meeting is in clear violation of Wisconsin law.

"There is a clear pattern of campaign donors getting special access and lucrative state contracts from Doyle," Wiley said, "Sadly this is just the latest in a long line of stories of how Jim Doyle has put Wisconsin up for auction."

This is not the first time that the Doyle administration appears to have a cozier relationship with campaign donors than firms that did not donate. According to information uncovered by the FBI, four phone calls were placed between Adelman Travel and Marotta's office during their bid for a lucrative state travel contract. Omega World Travel was not given the same preferential treatment. The FBI says no similar phone calls were exchanged with Omega World Travel. If Marotta discussed the procurement with Adelman and did not with Omega World Travel, it would likely be a violation of state law.

According to Wisconsin Procurement Law, the state must give fair and equal access during the bidding process:

Adm 10.08(5) Discussion with proposers. Fair and equal discussion may be conducted with all proposers for the purpose of clarification, and with proposers whose proposals are reasonably apt to be awarded the contract for the purpose of negotiating the best offer.
Doyle's administration remains under investigation by federal and state authorities.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Doyle Gas tax Pander -- Too Little, Too Late


Doyle defends action amid criticism

By STEVEN WALTERS and DON WALKER
swalters@journalsentinel.com

Posted: Aug. 9, 2006

Madison - Up for re-election in less than three months, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle saw a political chance this week to woo angry consumers by trying to show that he's on their side on the potent election-year issue of soaring fuel prices.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Doyle said he didn't know if he could tell state regulators to not enforce the minimum markup law on ethanol-based gasoline. The law, written decades ago when all gas was totally derived from oil, requires a 9.18% markup from wholesalers to retailers. His lawyers were studying the issue, the governor said Tuesday morning.

A few hours later, he ordered state regulators not to enforce the minimum markup law on ethanol blends.

Between Doyle's late-morning uncertainty and his mid-afternoon action, his Republican challenger for governor, U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay, issued a news release that challenged him on the issue.

Were the two - Green's challenge and Doyle's swift response - related?

Doyle said Wednesday that Green's statement had nothing to do with his order, because he has been opposed to the minimum markup law since he was Dane County district attorney from 1977 until 1983.

"I don't know anything about opponents' actions," Doyle said.

As a district attorney, he said: "They would come in and ask me to enforce the law and I'd say, 'You mean you want me to go ask a jury to convict somebody for selling a product for less?' "

He said that he acted legally and that anyone who thought otherwise could sue to resolve that question.

"I can decide whether or not the state is going to use its enforcement authority to proceed," he said. "We've got five Big Oil companies that are taking unconscionable profits from people and they have no real legitimate competition."

Doyle also appeared to suggest that enforcing the minimum markup law on fuel without ethanol should not be a priority. "We haven't been using much enforcement authority on regular gasoline on this law, either," he said.

Some Republicans saw politics in Doyle's actions.

"The governor had an epiphany," said Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), who had wanted Doyle to exempt one type of ethanol-blended fuel - called E-85 and usable only in specially equipped vehicles - from the minimum markup law.

Schultz said that he was delighted by Doyle's order but noted that the broad scope of it - including not only E-85 but also the more popular E-10, a 10% ethanol blend that is sold statewide - was a sign that he's worried about his re-election.

"I think the governor knew he was in deep trouble in the Milwaukee metro area," Schultz added. "He was hoping what he did would turn around his fortunes in southeast Wisconsin."

Little effect on prices

If Doyle and his campaign advisers expected immediate help Wednesday where it matters most to consumers - at the gas pumps - they didn't get it.

Although some Wisconsin retailers cut the price of unleaded regular slightly Wednesday, the owner of one convenience store - the Woodman's grocery on Madison's east side - said the reductions were in response to competitors, and not to the governor's order.

"What the governor says publicly has nothing to do with anything in reality," said Phil Woodman. "I've talked to my lawyers, and they haven't got a clue as to what the governor did and what it means."

Bill Ball, the owner of a BP station in Phillips in northern Wisconsin, also doubted that the governor's action would cut his gas-pump price, which was $3.25 for regular unleaded on Wednesday.

"Doyle's order had no effect on my prices today, and I don't see it having any effect in the near future, either," Ball said. "I say that because most of the time gasoline with 10% ethanol cost more from my supplier."

Although Ball said he voted for Doyle in 2002, he also linked Doyle's ethanol order to the campaign.

"Is the governor that ignorant to what is really going on, or is he just using this to fool people into thinking he is doing something about gas prices while he pads his re-election war chest?" Ball said.

Ball said convenience store owners such as himself are more squeezed than ever.

"This year has been a very tough year for us since, as most economists will tell you, when the price of a product jumps, (profit) margins go down, and that is exactly what has happened in the gasoline retail business," Ball said.

"Our piece of the pie has gotten smaller, while the oil companies and the credit card companies are making more then ever."

Richard Shaten, a faculty associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies who has studied ethanol, said Doyle's order could cut the price of ethanol-based fuel along borders where retailers compete with states without minimum markup laws.

But any potential price cuts on ethanol blends in Wisconsin could be offset by the national pinch caused by the shutdown of a major Alaskan pipeline - a pinch he said could add 25 cents to 40 cents to each gallon of fuel.

Shaten also saw politics in Doyle's decision.

"He does need to fortify his base, which includes the alternative-energy people, the ethanol people, the farm community" that grows the corn used to make ethanol, Shaten said.

"It's kind of like a no-brainer for him to wave the sword against the evil oil companies," he said. "I would assume that anybody with political savvy would take the opportunity to show that they're just not going to sit there and do nothing."

On Tuesday, Doyle and Green agreed on one thing: the need to help Wisconsin's ethanol industry grow. By Wednesday, officials of both campaigns were blasting each other over high gas prices.

"While Big Oil has driven gas prices through the roof, Mark Green has rewarded them with billion-dollar tax breaks," said Doyle campaign spokesman Anson Kaye, criticizing Green's voting record in Congress.

"Mark Green's been fattening up on Big Oil money for so long he might as well be on Exxon's payroll," Kaye added.

That's not true, said Green campaign manager Mark Graul. Green was vacationing with his family and was not available for comment.

"There's nothing in Mark Green's record that has been anything but making sure that Wisconsin consumers get a good price for their gasoline," Graul said.

"Jim Doyle has received tens of thousands of dollars from the very same Big Oil companies," Graul said. "The Doyle campaign has a problem telling the truth."

Steven Walters reported for this story from Madison and Don Walker from West Allis.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another Jim Doyle Quid Pro Quo


Firm that won state grant hosted Doyle fundraiser, records show

July 30, 2006


Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, second from left, uses a remote control to operate a Travelift yacht lift at Burger Boat in Manitowoc, Wis. He is flanked, from left, by Manitowoc Mayor Kevin Crawford, Burger Boat General Manager Jim Ruffolo and Burger Boat President David Ross. Two months after Doyle handed Burger Boat a $1.16 million state grant, Ross hosted a fundraiser that netted more than $16,000 in donations to his campaign, records show. Doyle accepted the donations even though he had returned $10,000 in contributions from the same Burger Boat Co. executives months earlier, citing the company's pending application for the state aid.

MADISON - Two months after Gov. Jim Doyle handed a yacht-building company a $1.16 million state grant, the company president hosted a fundraiser that netted more than $16,000 in donations to his campaign, records show.

Doyle accepted the donations even though he had returned $10,000 in contributions from the same Burger Boat Co. executives months earlier, citing the company's pending application for the state aid.

The donations Doyle returned were made in November, three days after a Department of Transportation panel recommended Burger Boat for the grant. Doyle, a Democrat running for re-election against U.S. Rep. Mark Green, has said he became aware of the close timing and returned them to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

But Doyle's latest disclosure report shows he turned around six months later and accepted $16,300 from company executives in May, two months after he formally announced the awarding of the grant at the company's Manitowoc headquarters.

Doyle had a $2 million fundraising advantage over Green as of June 30, with $5.17 million in the bank. But he has insisted there's a firewall between the campaign and state government.

David Ross, president of Burger Boat, the 143-year-old maker of luxury yachts, said the latest donations came at a fundraiser he hosted at his home for the governor. He gave $1,300 while his wife Katherine, also a company owner, gave the maximum $10,000 allowed.

Company vice president James Ruffolo gave $5,000 - the amount that was returned to him by Doyle's campaign six months earlier. Other executives from Manitowoc firms gave a total of $3,000 on the same day.

The fundraiser was in no way tied to the grant, Ross said, describing himself as a huge Doyle supporter.

"We want to help him out in his campaign," Ross said. "That's the bottom line and it really doesn't get simpler than that."

Doyle campaign spokesman Anson Kaye said the donations last year were returned "out of an abundance of caution" but that nothing inappropriate had occurred. He said Burger Boat executives approached the campaign after the grant process to again offer their support and the campaign accepted.

"The main thing here is that this is a good Wisconsin business that supports the governor for the work he's done for the state," Kaye said.

Bob Delaporte, spokesman for the state Republican Party, which has repeatedly accused Doyle of rewarding campaign contributors with state business, said Doyle was "tone deaf to the appearance of things."

"It looks like he got a refund," he said. "If the donations were inappropriate at one time, what made them suddenly appropriate?"

A Department of Transportation official has said a five-member advisory committee was not aware of the company's donations to Doyle and enthusiastically endorsed its grant proposal. The grant helped the company build a ramp to launch oversized yachts into the Manitowoc River.

The grant was one of three harbor assistance grants that Doyle announced this spring, with the others going to the city of Superior and the Port of Milwaukee.

Ross and Ruffolo brought Burger Boat out of bankruptcy, reopening the shipyard in February 1993. Doyle has called the company "one of the great success stories in Wisconsin."

Ross said state aid has been critical for an expansion of Burger Boat that has doubled the size of the firm to 400 employees. The company won $2.1 million in state grants and loans in 2003. Executives donated $10,000 to Doyle's campaign that year, too.

The Burger president said the governor has helped the economy in the Manitowoc area rebound from factory closures and mass layoffs.

"We need more people in politics that are like Jim Doyle," he said. "He's going up against a formidable opponent here and I happen to think he's doing a wonderful job and would like to see him re-elected."

Friday, July 28, 2006

The "know nothing" Doyle Campaign



Common Cause chief goo-goo Jay Heck thinks the Doylies are starting to sound like an old comedy routine.

Like Sergeant Schultz in the old "Hogan's Heroes" television comedy of the 1960's, the Governor Jim Doyle re-election campaign repeatedly says they "know nothing" about any connection between the awarding of lucrative state contracts and the significant campaign contributions to Doyle's re-election from executives in the firms receiving those contracts. Doyle's campaign mouthpieces go even further, on an almost daily basis, sometimes angrily denying any link whatsoever between campaign contributions and state contract awards--as if such a consideration would be inconceivable under any circumstances. Doyle campaign spokespersons Melanie Fonder and Anson Kaye say over and over again that there is absolutely no connection between the hundreds of thousands, even million of dollars in campaign contributions and the state contracts awarded (i.e. Adelman Travel), reversed policy decisions (i.e. sale of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant), and significant public policy decisions (i.e. signing of gaming contracts in perpetuity for Native-American Tribes).

How naive do they think the citizens of Wisconsin are?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lawmaker Asks For Probe Into Packers Tickets For Doyle, Aides


Lawmaker Asks For Probe Into Packers Tickets For Doyle, Aides

Complaint Referred To State Ethics Board

POSTED: 10:24 pm CDT July 20, 2006
MADISON, Wis. -- A state lawmaker is calling for an investigation into whether Gov. Jim Doyle and his aides broke any rules in accepting tickets to a Packers game.
Assemblyman Stephen Freese of Dodgeville has asked the state's attorney general to investigate.
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report said Doyle and the aides were given the tickets for a Packers-Bears game in 2003.
The report said two companies provided the box seats. The governor's campaign said it reimbursed one company $170 for the tickets used by Doyle and his chief of staff, Susan Goodwin.
Freese said he wants to know whether those companies had business in the state at the time and whether $170 was fair reimbursement for the skybox tickets.
State ethics guidelines say state officials shouldn't accept tickets to events unless the same offer is available to the general public.
The state Department of Justice has referred the complaint to the state Ethics Board.
Doyle campaign spokesman Anson Kaye said the complaint is without merit -- but he didn't answer questions about the tickets.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Verdicts hurt Wisconsin governor's re-election bid, analysts say


Verdicts hurt Wisconsin governor's re-election bid, analysts say

RYAN J. FOLEY
Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. - Democrats' hopes of retaining the governor's office in this key swing state took a hit with the conviction of a state official for steering a contract to a company that donated to Gov. Jim Doyle, political analysts said Tuesday.
Federal jurors Monday convicted Georgia Thompson, a Department of Administration purchasing official, of fraud charges for steering a contract to book travel to Adelman Travel Group. The company's chief executive and a board member each gave $10,000 to Doyle's campaign before and after winning the contract.
The felony convictions add an explosive issue into Doyle's campaign in which he is trying to become the first Democratic governor to win re-election in Wisconsin in 32 years.
Doyle is facing a challenge from U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Green Bay, in the November general election. Polls already show the race in a statistical dead heat five months before the election. Even before the conviction, several analysts said Doyle was among the most vulnerable Democratic governors running for re-election.
"I think this is definitely going to be an issue in the race, especially in an election cycle where ethics is playing a role," said Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst for the Cook Political Report. "As Democrats have pushed this message of a culture of corruption at the national level, it has a backlash effect on someone like Doyle."
Voters in Wisconsin, a state traditionally known for its clean government, tend to punish elected officials for corruption, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
"It does hurt him and the amazing thing is he's only been in one term. Usually it takes awhile to develop corruption," he said. "Does this trial mean Doyle himself is corrupt? Of course not. But he's going to be held accountable for what's happened in his administration."
Doyle said Tuesday the trial made clear Thompson acted alone and that he was moving to fire her, saying he has "zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government." He said he's not worried that the conviction could hurt him politically, saying voters would be focused on issues like education and the economy.
"I've been around tough campaigns before and I know that there are going to be a lot of accusations back and forth," Doyle told reporters after an appearance at a home in a Madison suburb. "The fact is that this was a verdict about one state employee, a woman to this day I've never met."
Both national parties are focusing on the race because they believe control of the governor's office will help them carry the swing state in the 2008 presidential election.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry defeated President Bush to take the state's 10 electoral votes by 11,000 votes out of nearly 3 million cast in 2004. Doyle served as Kerry's campaign chairman in the state and used the powers of his office to help him win.
The convictions of Thompson came just three days after Doyle kicked off his re-election campaign with a speech at the state Democratic Party convention in La Crosse.
During the weeklong trial, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic painted a cozy relationship between Doyle and Adelman.
The governor met with Adelman executives months before the contract competition and his top aide at the time met and traded phone calls with Adelman before and during the competition. Doyle appeared at the firm's 20th anniversary party last summer, just months after it won the contract worth an estimated $750,000.
Thompson, a civil servant, said she was unaware of the close relationship between Doyle and Adelman and felt no pressure to award the contract to Adelman. Biskupic cautioned that the case was not about Doyle.
Still, the state Republican Party wasted no time in going on the attack.
The trial "showed how far this administration is willing to go to reward political cronies and campaign donors," state GOP Chairman Rick Graber said in a statement.
Green, who became Doyle's main challenger after Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker dropped out of the race earlier this year, called for a change in state law to prohibit campaign contributions while companies compete for state work.
Doyle canceled the contract after the indictment but has kept the story alive by refusing to return the donations, analysts said.
"Give the money back. It's not worth it," Sabato said. "That's always a mistake when officials turn stubborn."
Sabato said Doyle's popularity has been hampered by battles with the Republican-controlled state Legislature and the shadow of four-term Gov. Tommy Thompson, the state's most popular elected official who stepped down to join President Bush's cabinet in 2001.
Doyle is making his support of embryonic stem cell research, pioneered in Wisconsin, the centerpiece of the campaign and framing the election as a choice between Wisconsin values and Washington, where Green has served in Congress since 1998.
Doyle's top aide, Department of Administration Secretary Steve Bablitch, said the case wouldn't hurt Doyle's campaign. He said Doyle would be rewarded by voters for balancing a $3.2 billion budget deficit he inherited without raising taxes, boosting funding for schools and downsizing state government.
"At the end of the day, the voters are going to be looking at the governor's track record," he said.

Jim Doyle's Deficit -- Lie Exposure #483


The Oshkosh Northwestern
Posted June 16, 2006

Editorial: Doyle's deficit problem

The numbers are out. Wisconsin state government will start planning the 2007-09 budget with a $2.5 billion deficit. The figures came from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, at the request of state Sens. Mike Ellis and Rob Cowles.

Point the finger of blame at the governor. Gov. Jim Doyle "balanced" the existing budget by borrowing money from funds he wasn't supposed to touch or simply not counting some costs.

Bizarre, but true.

An honest approach would have had a budget with a combination of cuts, mergers and reduced spending when writing the 2005-07 budget.

So, Doyle needs to explain why he doesn't want to be serious or he needs to get serious for 2007-09.

The governor with the most powerful veto pen in the nation shouldn't have a deficit problem like the one of Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Timing of Doyle gift questioned


Timing of Doyle gift questioned
Donation, meeting with former aide at state office coincide
By PATRICK MARLEY
pmarley@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 7, 2006

Madison - Former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta met last year in his state office with a Philadelphia-area attorney who gave Gov. Jim Doyle $10,000 on the same day, state records show.
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Section : State Politics
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Katie Boyce, Doyle's fund- raiser, helped arrange the meeting, said Anson Kaye, a spokesman for Doyle's campaign. Marotta's calendar lists Boyce as an attendee to the meeting, but Kaye said she was included on the calendar in error.

The April 6, 2005, meeting was with Richard Schiffrin and Nicholas Pullen of Schiffrin & Barroway, a firm that specializes in shareholder lawsuits. That same day, Schiffrin gave Doyle's campaign $10,000, the maximum allowed under state law.

Marotta, who stepped down as secretary in October and became Doyle's campaign chairman, did not return phone calls. Sean Dilweg, who served as Marotta's top aide, said the lawyers met with Marotta for less than an hour to discuss hiring the firm to ensure that the state's pension fund signed on to successful shareholder lawsuits. The firm did not get any state work.

The donation and meeting were in no way linked, Dilweg and Kaye said.

As secretary, Marotta was a member of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, which runs the pension fund. The attorneys met with board staff members the day before; Marotta advised them that those were the people the attorneys should talk to, Dilweg said.

The meeting "was completely about what business they could offer to the state, and he referred them swiftly to SWIB," Dilweg said.

Rick Wiley, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the explanations from Doyle's aides were not credible.

"That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard coming out of their campaign," Wiley said. "I think they're lying about this. This is just another example of the arrogance of Marc Marotta and Jim Doyle."

Wiley said he would ask prosecutors to investigate whether the meeting was improper. Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and Mike Bauer, an aide to Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, said they were not familiar with Marotta's meeting with Schiffrin.

Blanchard and Lautenschlager - who, like Doyle, are Democrats - have been involved in investigations into ties between campaign donations and state business. Campaign records show Lautenschlager received a $5,000 donation from Barbara Schiffrin of the same firm a day before Richard Schiffrin donated the $10,000 to Doyle.
Balancing act

Marotta's schedule shows that like most of his Democratic and Republican predecessors, he was consistently involved in both campaign work and running the state. His aides have long said he maintained a firewall between political activities and state business by campaigning only off state property and on his own time.

The calendar lists Boyce, by last name only, as a meeting attendee. She is not listed as an attendee for other meetings she arranged for Marotta. Instead, those entries include a notation that says "per K. Boyce."

A call to Boyce was returned by Kaye, the campaign spokesman. He could not explain why Boyce was listed as a participant if she was not supposed to be at the meeting.

Kaye said Boyce referred the lawyers to the Department of Administration several weeks earlier when they asked about state business.

"She never was at the meeting, she was never going to attend the meeting and she never would attend such a meeting," Kaye said.

The meeting was not unusual, Kaye said. "The job of the DOA secretary is to meet with business leaders and find out their ideas for the state," he said.

Marotta has made that argument in the past to explain why he met with Adelman Travel officials about how the state could save money on travel. That firm, whose executives gave Doyle $20,000, eventually landed a $750,000 state contract. State procurement worker Georgia Thompson was convicted last month of illegally steering business to the firm.

Dilweg said Marotta's door was open to a range of business and community leaders, and campaign donors do not have special access to government. He noted Marotta had more than 250 meetings in April and May 2005, including ones with Milwaukee pastors and James Klauser, the administration secretary under Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson.

Richard Schiffrin did not return calls. His $10,000 donation to Doyle is the only one he has ever made to a Wisconsin candidate, according to campaign finance records. He is a heavy donor to national Democratic campaigns and Democratic-leaning causes. For instance, he gave $250,000 to outside spending group America Coming Together in 2004.

Schiffrin is one of the founders of Schiffrin & Barroway, a law firm that represents shareholders in class-action suits.
Governor's mansion meeting

Most meetings Marotta had with Boyce occurred off state property over the lunch hour or after normal business hours. One exception was a Dec. 28, 2004, meeting at the governor's mansion.

Kevin Kennedy, the executive director of the State Elections Board, said such a meeting was probably not inappropriate because the governor may conduct personal business at his state-owned residence, even if that means meeting with campaign advisers.

Released Friday under the state's public records law, the calendar also shows that Marotta attended after-hours meetings at Boyce's request, such as a Feb. 9, 2005, budget briefing for the Governor's Circle, a campaign group. On Feb. 15, he attended a dinner with building contractors at the governor's mansion at Boyce's request.

Dilweg said the governor has hosted a number of dinners at the executive residence for various groups, but they were not campaign related.

The schedule also shows Marotta attending a fund-raiser for Senate Democrats in Spring Green from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 26, 2005, at Boyce's request. But the schedule also shows Marotta worked past 9:30 that night because he traveled to Eau Claire to speak with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

Jonathan Becker, counsel for the state Ethics Board, said cabinet secretaries have flexible schedules because they typically work more than 40 hours a week.

"I don't think cabinet secretaries punch a clock," he said.

On June 15, 2005, Marotta is listed as doing "Desk Time (per K. Boyce)" at the governor's campaign headquarters. Dilweg said that was to make campaign fund-raising calls or to do other political work.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

INVESTIGATORS QUESTION DOYLE TEAM ON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS-NUCLEAR APPROVAL CONNECTION


Psc Workers Interviewed In Probe
Investigators Look Into Controversial Sale Of Nuclear Power Plant.
Wisconsin State Journal Wednesday, May 10, 2006
JASON STEIN jstein@madison.com 608-252-6129

Investigators at the state Department of Justice conducted long interviews last month with at least three state regulatory employees involved in the approval of the controversial sale of a nuclear power plant last year, agency records show.
Authorities have also questioned two employees at a Green Bay utility whose executives held a fundraiser for Gov. Jim Doyle the day before state regulators made an initial decision on the $191.5 million sale of a nuclear plant owned in part by that utility, a company spokesman said.

The three April meetings recorded in the visitor log at the state Public Service Commission show a probe into possible influence-buying in the Kewaunee plant case is ongoing.

Department of Justice spokesman Brian Rieselman declined comment.

PSC spokeswoman Linda Barth confirmed the logbook was accurate but wouldn't comment on what was discussed, saying the PSC doesn't "comment on any matter where there's a review pending and it's DOJ's review."
"We are cooperating fully with the Department of Justice. We are confident that the process and procedures followed in this decision were accurate and appropriate and that we're looking for a speedy resolution in this matter," Barth said.

The log showed that between April 4 and April 11, two agents of the state Division of Criminal Investigation met for several hours each with: PSC economist Dennis Koepke, who served as an analyst on the Kewaunee sale case; Jeff Kitsembel, who handles nuclear issues for the PSC; and PSC general counsel David Gilles, who also played a role in the case.

Koepke wouldn't comment, other than to say he was the first person interviewed by investigators. Kitsembel and Gilles did not return messages.

A November 2004 fundraiser by the top executive of the parent of utility Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay drew $25,750 for Doyle -- the largest single day of donations by utility workers for a state political candidate from 1993 to June 2005, a State Journal analysis found. The Kewaunee plant was then owned by WPS and Alliant Energy Corp. of Madison, which were attempting to sell it to Dominion Resources of Richmond, Va.

The PSC initially denied the request for the sale in November 2004, but after the three companies revised their proposal, the PSC approved the sale in March 2005.

WPS spokesman Kerry Spees said Tuesday that an executive at the utility and one other employee have also been interviewed by investigators about the Kewaunee case. Spees said he wasn't sure of the date of the meetings and he wouldn't give other details.

"We think that trying to make a connection between a campaign contribution to Gov. Doyle and some (PSC decision) is quite a stretch," Spees said. "We don't believe there's anything there."

Investigators have not questioned any Alliant employees, spokesman Scott Smith said.

Both PSC officials and Doyle's campaign denied any connection between donations and regulatory action.

"That's ludicrous," campaign spokesman Anson Kaye said, noting the independence of PSC regulators.

The three members of the PSC are appointed by the governor. It is controlled by two Doyle appointees.

Late last year, state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said her office was looking into possibly improper meetings in 2004 between top aides at the PSC and utility executives in the months leading up to the first Kewaunee decision.

In the recent interviews, Lautenschlager's office appears to be focusing on the campaign donations and not those meetings, said one source who has spoken with investigators. The source asked not to be named to protect professional relationships.

Of the April interviews, none were with the top aides who were involved in those 2004 meetings, though Gilles has also been a point person for the PSC on that matter.

Monday, March 27, 2006

MORE PAY TO PLAY WITH JIM DOYLE


Consulting execs give Doyle $45K
Donations made after firms win state contracts
By David Callender

Months after landing lucrative state contracts, executives from two out-of-state consulting firms gave donations totaling nearly $45,000 to Gov. Jim Doyle's re-election campaign.

The donations to Doyle marked the first time that anyone from either company - Chicago-based Equis Corp. and Indianapolis-based Crowe Chizek - gave significant cash to any candidate in Wisconsin, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

In the case of Equis Corp., the firm's president and his wife gave Doyle nearly the maximum contribution allowed under state law - $10,000 each - less than a year after the state approved a contract amendment potentially worth millions to the firm.

The firm's chief operating officer and three other top executives gave Doyle a total of more than $7,000 in the same period.
Consulting execs give Doyle $45K

Crowe Chizek officials, meanwhile, gave Doyle a total of $17,500, beginning with a donation of $2,500 from one of the firm's executives only months after the firm won a $6.7 million contract.

Both contractors submitted low bids for their work, but Wisconsin Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe said the donations renew questions about so-called "pay-to-play" practices in state government.

"This is a classic pattern where campaign contributions flow in after a company wins a contract, where before you didn't see any big donations from folks and then all of a sudden they give these huge amounts," McCabe said. "It could be coincidence, but it creates the appearance that government is for sale," he added.

Monday, March 06, 2006

DOYLE SWITCHES PSC CRONY TO CAMPAIGN CRONY


SAT., FEB 25, 2006 - 12:57 AM
PSC aide gets Doyle campaign position
PHIL BRINKMAN and JASON STEIN Wisconsin State Journal
The top aide to the chairman of the state Public Service Commission has taken a job with Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign, a move that has critics once again questioning the independence of the regulatory body.

Dan Schooff, executive assistant to PSC Chairman Dan Ebert, is leaving to become the political director for the Democratic governor's re-election campaign.

Schooff, of Beloit, served three terms in the state Assembly before Doyle appointed him in 2004 as administrator of the state Department of Administration's energy division. He was appointed to the PSC last March.

"Dan Schooff is talented, well-respected, and has done great work as a former legislator, as a member of my administration, and at the PSC," Doyle said in a statement Friday. "I look forward to working closely with him as the campaign moves forward."

Doyle's relationship with the PSC has come under scrutiny with recent revelations that authorities are investigating possible links between donations from utility executives and state regulators' approval of the sale of a nuclear power plant.

Although Doyle has appointed two of the PSC's three members, both the governor and regulatory officials maintain the commission is independent of the governor's influence.

Schooff is a longtime Doyle loyalist and was one of the few Democratic lawmakers who supported Doyle in the Democratic primary during his first bid for governor four years ago, said Jay Heck, executive director of government watchdog group Common Cause of Wisconsin.

"The governor's campaign claims that the PSC and even the appointments to the PSC are totally independent of the governor's office and are not subject to pressure or discussion," Heck said. "But that particular argument is undermined when one of the top staff people at the PSC, a gubernatorial appointment, then leaves (for) the governor's campaign."

Doyle campaign spokeswoman Melanie Fonder rejected the suggestion that Schooff's hiring showed the governor was too cozy with the PSC.

"This is a person who has a long history in Wisconsin including as a former legislator and as a member of the governor's administration," Fonder said of Schooff. "The governor always picks the people who are best for the jobs."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jim Doyle and Steven Avery -- What Do They Have In Common?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

At least 7 firms winning no-bid contracts gave Doyle money


At least 7 firms winning no-bid contracts gave Doyle money
By JR Ross
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - Employees of at least seven companies donated to Gov. Jim Doyle's re-election campaign around the same time the state picked their firms for no-bid contracts totaling more than $36.1 million, according to an Associated Press review.

They include two IBM salesmen who gave Doyle more than $11,000 over a three-year period as the business won more than a dozen contracts worth more than $6 million.

Also, three Oracle Corp. employees gave Doyle $3,250 within days of the company winning a contract that could be worth up to $29 million to provide software and technical support to the state.

Some $16,000 in donations from employees of the other five companies in the AP review were given to Doyle around the time their firms won work.

Doyle has been under fire over the last several months as federal, state and local prosecutors review a contract won by a travel agency whose executives gave $20,000 to Doyle shortly before and after the deal took effect. A federal grand jury last month indicted a state employee involved in selecting the firm, alleging she manipulated the process to help the company beat out a competitor to "cause political advantage for her supervisors."

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said a culture has developed in Madison that vendors feel they must make campaign contributions to enhance their chances to win state work.

"They've almost been trained like rats," McCabe said. "You push the right button, and out comes a treat."

Doyle's office referred all questions about the donations to his campaign. Doyle campaign spokeswoman Melanie Fonder said the governor has never tied state work to political contributions. He returned $10,000 in donations from executives of a Manitowoc company that came in three days after the firm won a $1.1 million grant.

Fonder said the campaign reviews all donations and has no plans to return those identified in the AP review.

"There is no connection," Fonder said.

IBM won more no-bid contracts awarded from the state's three largest agencies than any other company over the past three years, according to the AP's review. The work was largely related to hardware maintenance and software purchases.

Around the time the company won those contracts, salesmen Daniel Meixelsperger and Mark Ronnie made a series of donations to Doyle's campaign totaling $11,100. Some of the donations were made within weeks of the company winning the no-bid contracts.

Meixelsperger is the main sales representative the state deals with, according to the Department of Administration. A contract lists Ronnie as a company contact for the state.

Department of Administration Executive Secretary Sean Dilweg said the state selected IBM for its mainframe in the 1990s, which required the state to purchase IBM products that are compatible with its system.

According to a database of contributions maintained by the Democracy Campaign, Meixelsperger also donated to former Govs. Scott McCallum and Tommy Thompson while they were in office.

"These were private donations, and they weren't connected with contracts awarded by the state," IBM spokesman Scott Cook said, declining further comment.

Various Oracle offices had 47 contracts with state agencies to maintain databases tracking things like road work and criminal histories before the state decided to consolidate the work into one contract, Dilweg said. The contract is expected to save the state up to 45 percent of its prior costs, including a $2 million savings achieved in the first year of the six-year deal, Dilweg said.

The donations from Oracle employees came between May and June 2005, within weeks of the contract's approval. All three live outside Wisconsin, including Margaret Kuhlman, an account manager who works with the state. She is the only one of the three to have made a political contribution to a state candidate in the previous decade, giving Doyle $500 in 2003, according to the Democracy Campaign database.

Kuhlman did not return calls from the AP to her Chicago office, and a company spokeswoman declined comment.

McCabe said vendors seeking state work have given to governors since long before Doyle took office.

Campaign finance reports show McCallum received $4,001 in 2001 from executives of an Oklahoma company that built a private prison in Wisconsin hoping the state would buy it. The money came in one week before the state Building Commission, chaired by McCallum, approved buying the prison for $75 million.

In 1999, executives of a Fond du Lac construction firm gave Thompson $37,000 two weeks before the Building Commission he chaired gave the company a $29.5 million, no-bid contract to build a prison for sexual predators in Mauston.

Thompson faced other allegations that contributions were tied to state work but denied there was any connection.

McCabe's group last year reviewed more than 5,000 Commerce Department economic development grants handed out between 1999 and 2004, a period covering the terms of Thompson, McCallum and Doyle. It found those who had donated to political candidates received awards averaging more than $1 million. It said that those that did not received an average of $129,990.

"They're not making donations to get good government," McCabe said.

The consulting firm Mead & Hunt won a no-bid contract from the state in 2004 to do an analysis of the Dane and Milwaukee county airports as the state fought the proposed closure of Wisconsin military bases. Company president Rajan Sheth gave Doyle $1,250 over the course of the year, including $250 eight days before the almost $80,000 contract was approved.

Sheth said he opposes exchanging contributions for political favors and said the donations were not tied to the contract the company won.

Sheth has made multiple donations to numerous candidates spanning the political spectrum, according to the Democracy Campaign database. Mead & Hunt is one of the state's oldest consulting firms, in business for 106 years.

"Mead & Hunt has done work for state government since long before I was born," said Sheth, who has worked for the company almost 30 years. "I don't think there is any correlation with any contribution any of us make."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why would you keep someone running your campaign who failed to tell you that he had admitted to violating the law?


GarveyBlog
by Ed Garvey
February 2, 2006

Should have asked?
Jim Doyle announced that he will keep his campaign manager despite "the revelation that he had campaigned on state time when he worked for the Assembly" according to MJS. The Governor said he was never briefed on what his manager said to prosecutors in 2001.

Isn't that the point? Why would you keep someone running your campaign who failed to tell you that he had admitted to violating the law? OK, you didn't know and practised "don't ask don't tell" policy in hiring staff. OK. But how about your manager? Has he fully briefed you now or should we wait for the Jensen trial to learn more?

This is not good.

Doyle Defends Criminal Behavior of Team Doyle


Doyle to keep campaign manager
Governor says he won't try people for things that happened years ago
By PATRICK MARLEY
pmarley@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Feb. 1, 2006

Madison - Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday he would retain Rich Judge as his campaign manager, despite the revelation this week that Judge told investigators in 2001 that he had campaigned on state time when he worked for the Assembly.

Although Doyle was attorney general when investigators interviewed Judge in late 2001, the governor said that he was never briefed on what Judge said. During a yearlong inquiry into Capitol corruption, Doyle's agency lent investigators to Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, but Doyle said that he consciously avoided being updated on the cases and made no charging decisions.

The Democratic governor said he also was not aware of the details in the reports when he hired Judge to lead his re-election campaign.

His comments came a day after Rep. Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield) filed with a Dane County court copies of investigative summaries of interviews with Judge and other Democratic Assembly workers.

Jensen is to go on trial Feb. 21 on felony charges of directing aides to campaign on state time. He maintains the reports show he is the victim of selective prosecution because no Assembly Democrats were charged.

Two Democrats who were Senate leaders at the time have been charged and convicted, however.

Taxpayers spent $9,193 to cover Judge's legal bills, according to Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller. Doyle said he did not support the Legislature's decision to pay that tab.

Doyle said he had no plans to review the interviews with Judge.

"Whatever happened four or five years ago with Rich is something that he cooperated with everybody about, and that's fine," Doyle said. "I'm not going to go back and try people for things that happened many years ago."

Judge worked for the Assembly Democratic Caucus from mid-1998 to May 2001, serving as caucus director for his last year. He told investigators he attended two campaign meetings in 1999 in the Capitol office of then-Rep. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) to discuss fund raising.

Plale, who is now a state senator, said he could not recall the particulars of those meetings but acknowledged that "lines were blurred" at the time.

"I know we had meetings in my office," Plale said. "To remember six, seven years ago what all those meetings were about, I'd be guessing."

Plale was co-chairman of the Assembly Democrats' fund-raising campaign in 1998 and 1999. He said he did not seek another term because of mounting concerns about campaigning on state time.

"As the lines got blurrier, I got more uncomfortable," he said.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), the other campaign co-chairman, also attended those meetings, Judge told investigators. Pocan said this week he did not recall the meetings and was unaware of employees campaigning on state time.

Most of the alleged campaigning took place under the leadership of Rep. Shirley Krug (D-Milwaukee), who was then the minority leader, according to the reports. Krug, who retired from the Legislature in 2004, could not be reached Wednesday.

Doyle Gives Back Some Dirty Marina Money


Posted February 2, 2006
Doyle returns Burger Boat donations
Governor sends back $10,000 to avoid appearance of influencing a major state grant
By Charlie Mathews
Herald Times Reporter


MANITOWOC - Gov. Jim Doyle has returned $10,000 in campaign donations from Burger Boat owners David Ross and Jim Ruffolo, according to a campaign finance document filed Tuesday.

Two days after each man made a $5,000 donation, a Department of Transportation advisory committee accepted the company's $1.1 million grant proposal for a boat ramp.

Larry Kieck, a DOT harbors and waterways analyst, said the advisory committee was not aware of the company's donations and unanimously endorsed the project.

Ross said the donations were not meant to influence the grant award, but acknowledged "the timing was not right."

He said he understood the return of the donations.

"We were in the middle of the application for the HAP grant ... (Doyle) wanted to make sure there were no improprieties so the funds were returned," Ross said.

"I am very supportive of the governor and always have been. He has been so pro-business," said the company president. "When our entire community was hit hard with loss of jobs he stepped right up to the plate. He's my kind of guy ... I wanted to continue to show my support."

If Doyle approves the grant, the company would become the first private firm to receive a Harbor Assistance Program (HAP) grant.

The grant would cover 80 percent of the $1.4 million construction costs of a sloped ramp allowing Burger to launch megayachts, up to about 160 feet in length, into the Manitowoc River. It also would help underwrite repair to the docks and seawall.

Ross said the project would help keep about 400 Burger employees' jobs viable.

The Harbor Assistance Grant program has existed since 1979, but private companies weren't eligible until a change in state law in 2004.

Kieck said the committee thought Burger's plan "was one of the best ones they had seen in a long time."

Doyle's office is expected soon to announce the grant for Burger Boat, Kieck said. The state transportation secretary already approved the award, he said.

Doyle's campaign will not return $5,000 donations that Ross and Ruffolo made in 2003, spokeswoman Melanie Fonder said.

Those donations came six months after Burger Boat won $2.1 million in state grants and loans for a company expansion and two months before Doyle appeared at the company's groundbreaking on the project.

The move comes against a backdrop of intense scrutiny over campaign donations. Doyle and the two Republicans hoping to defeat him in November, Mark Green and Scott Walker, each has returned contributions they considered tainted this month.

Doyle, however, has refused calls to give back $20,000 in donations tied to a travel agency that won a state contract.

Mike McCabe, director of the campaign finance watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, called the cash return "an important step for the governor." But he said Doyle was "splitting hairs" by refusing donations in this case while accepting them from others that get state business.

Earlier this week, Republicans called on Doyle to return $20,000 from executives of a company that won a travel contract after prosecutors say a state employee manipulated the bidding process to favor the company, Adelman Travel Group.

Doyle canceled the contract but said he would keep the donations because they were made legally and neither donor — the company's CEO and a board member — had done anything wrong.

Doyle said those contributions were different than the Burger Boat case because they came "well before and well after the contract was given."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"It's time to put an end to the governor's shady deals. Wisconsin deserves better."


RPW: Doyle Administration Must Come Clean to Voters About Travel Contract Scheme
1/27/2006
Contact: Bob Delaporte, (608) 257-4765

(Madison, WI)...The Republican Party of Wisconsin says it will continue to seek the answers that Governor Jim Doyle refuses to give on his administration's involvement in potentially illegally awarding a lucrative state travel contract.

On Thursday, the party made another open records request for documents surrounding a suspicious October 18, 2004 meeting involving Georgia Thompson and then Department of Administration Secretary Mark Marotta to discuss travel contracts. That meeting took place less than a week after Adelman Travel donated $2,500 to the governor's re-election campaign. Thompson is now facing two federal indictments for manipulating the process to favor the governor's donor. The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Rick Graber says the taxpayers deserve answers.

"Jim Doyle and his administration can't keep their story straight on what happened to the taxpayer's money," Graber said, "We're going to keep digging because the governor isn't being straight with the people of Wisconsin."

WKOW Television in Madison reported on Thursday that another key DOA official, Gina Frank-Reece is claiming she never heard complaints on how the travel contract was awarded despite claims to the contrary from a University of Wisconsin official. That discrepancy comes on the heels of some news stories stating that the governor won't return the tainted money from Adelman Travel or re-bid the contract and others saying he might. Chairman Graber says Governor Doyle must provide answers.

"The governor owes the people of Wisconsin an explanation," Graber said, "He needs to start realizing that he is accountable to the voters and not the special interests."

Since taking office, Governor Doyle's administration has been plagued by pay-to-play accusations and questionable contracts. In addition to the Adelman contract, investigators are scrutinizing the state's approval to sell a nuclear power plant. Executives of the utilities that owned the plant contributed heavily to the Doyle campaign in the months surrounding approval of the sale.

The Doyle administration is also coming under fire for rewarding a political ally with a $500,000 contract for W-2 services, despite not meeting the goals set out in the last contract. Chairman Graber says both of the Republican candidates for governor give taxpayers hope.

"It's time to put an end to the governor's shady deals. Wisconsin deserves better," Graber said, "This November voters have that opportunity when they elect Mark Green or Scott Walker, who will clean up Doyle's mess and give taxpaying citizens a government that works on their behalf, not that of wealthy donors or powerful special interests."

Monday, January 30, 2006

TRICKY DICK DOYLE -- Sykes Writes


THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2006, 9:18 a.m.
TRICKY DICK DOYLE

(Note: This column appears in the Madison weekly Isthmus.)
By Charles Sykes

This is a cheap shot, but a lot more folks have begun noticing that Jim Doyle bears an uncanny resemblance to Richard Nixon, especially when he’s got the 5 o’clock shadow thing going.

Maybe it’s the “I am not a crook” thing after the Indian casino cash stories broke.

Or his sweaty, shifty-eyed “I am not a crook” reaction to news this week that a federal grand jury has indicted a state employee for allegedly steering a state travel contract to a company whose officials gave money to Doyle’s campaign. The grand jury is also probing links between campaign contributions and state approval of a nuclear power plant sale.

And it didn’t help when Doyle had to hand back some money linked to super-lobbyist-crook Jack Abramoff. I mean, jeez, you get a massive Republican scandal and Doyle gets caught with his hand in that cookie jar too? Can’t this guy keep his hands in his own pockets?

Even on his best days, Doyle must be starting to think he’s becoming engulfed in a perfect political storm: a national scandal guaranteeing that the media will spend months talking about ethics; weekly stories of pay-to-play in state government; his own administration being investigated by the FBI – all in the midst of a re-election campaign.

He has to wonder: Will voters start to connect the dots? Consider the roll call of political infamy involving Democrats they must consider:

Former state Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala convicted of felony misconduct. Former Sen. Gary George convicted of federal graft charges. Former Sen. Brian Burke convicted of felony misconduct charges. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager busted for drunk driving in a state car.

Former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament driven from office after a pension scandal, Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Karen Ordinans and seven other supervisors recalled after the same scandal. Current Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway facing more than 90 ethics violations. Are we having fun yet?

Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist caught up in a sexual harassment scandal, leading to his resignation. Milwaukee aldermen Jeff Pawlinski, Rosa Cameron, Paul Henningsen all convicted and sentenced to federal prison for corruption. Four Democratic activists, including the sons of the former mayor and Milwaukee's Democratic Congresswoman, convicted in an election day vandalism incident.

In a normal year, this would be Doyle’s base. This year, it’s a police lineup.

So this is a particularly lousy time to have people thinking you kind of look like Tricky Dick.

What did Wisconsin do to deserve this parade of disrepute? There’s no evidence state residents have become less honest, or that our tolerance for crooked politicians has approached that of the flatlanders to the South.

So what went wrong?

The Madison-based goo-goos insist the outbreak of venality is the result of weak campaign finance laws. But maybe there is a more human explanation: too many folks with weak moral compasses have spent too long in government and lost their way.

In the past, I admit, I’ve been skeptical of term limits on grounds that they limit voters’ right to choose. But maybe it’s time to put them back on the table.

Limiting terms might slow the process by which normal, rational, intelligent, ethical people go into government and become transformed into the win-at-all-costs hacks who increasingly dominate every branch of government.

“Going native” is a bipartisan disease. Democrats become toadies for the teachers union and trial lawyers, while Republicans become lickspittles for the road builders and the ethanol lobby.

But what’s liberal about screwing kids in the central city? What’s conservative about paving the state with tax dollars? And what’s principle got to do with it, anyway?

Spend enough time in Madison and it’s all about keeping the majority (if you’re a Republican) or losing it (if you’re a Democrat.) The reason you came in the first place? Who can remember? Who cares?

And, hey, isn’t that super-lobbyist Bill Broydrick over there? And is that a big check in his pocket, or is he just happy to see me?

But what if people in government knew they were there for only a brief time? What if they had to return to the communities that sent them? What if the perks, privileges, and innumerable occasions of being sucked-up-to were temporary?

Who knows? Maybe some more of them might actually keep their heads and their wits about them and not sell their souls for the mess of pottage that passes for power and privilege in the Capitol these days.

And while we’re at it, could somebody in the press corps check to see whether Doyle has a dog named Checkers?

INDICTMENT IN TRAVELGATE -- Sykes Writes


TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2006, 6:36 p.m.
INDICTMENT IN TRAVELGATE

No wonder Doyle left the country.

As Rick notes:

This can't be good news. There is no way that an indictment combining the terms "fraud," "procurement" and "political considerations" in connection with his administration is not a real kick in the solar plexus.

From JS Online:

TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2006, 5:39 p.m.
State official charged in travel case Note: So far they aren't using "Doyle Administration" or "Doyle aide")

A state Department of Administration official has been indicted in connection with a contract awarded to Adelman Travel.

Georgia Thompson, 55, of Waunakee, has been charged with two federal felonies: causing misapplication of funds and participating in a scheme to defraud the state of Wisconsin of the right to honest services. Thompson was on a team of evaluators that reviewed bids for a contract to be the state’s “travel partner.”

The indictment alleges that Thompson:
- Intentionally inflated the scores of Adelman Travel, which was in competition with other agencies to be named the state’s “travel partner”
- Suggested that committee members change scores when evaluating the agencies.
- Prevented the contract from being awarded to another agency despite the other committee members’ unanimous decision.

Adelman ultimately was awarded the contract, which had been the subject of political debate and investigation.

If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

-By Gina Barton

Here is the full text of the indictment...

Obvious questions:

Will Georgia Thompson flip?

How far up does this go? Who told Thompson to lean toward Adelman?

What did Doyle or his top aides know and when did he know it?

Did she know of the Adelman contributions to Doyle and, if so, who told her?

How will this affect the 2006 governor's election?

Is it too late for the Dems to bail on Diamond Jim? (And how will Xoff spin this?)

GRAND JURY INDICTS DOYLE OFFICIAL ON TRAVELGATE


WED., JAN 25, 2006 - 12:00 AM
Employee indicted in state travel deal
PHIL BRINKMAN pbrinkman@madison.com

A federal grand jury indicted a state employee Tuesday, charging her with manipulating the process of awarding a state travel contract to ensure it went to a company whose officials gave heavily to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's election campaign.
Georgia Thompson, 55, was charged in Milwaukee with the misapplication of state funds and fraud for her role in the state's hiring of Adelman Travel Group of Milwaukee, which prosecutors said was intended "to cause political advantage for her supervisors" and "help her job security."

One of those supervisors, former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, called the allegations "completely puzzling."

"I don't know what political advantage any of her supervisors could have," Marotta said. "It was a very standard, small procurement that was done to the advantage of taxpayers."

In a statement late Tuesday, Marotta's successor, Steve Bablitch, said, "The Doyle administration has zero tolerance for ethical lapses, but we certainly hope that saving money for taxpayers doesn't become a crime in Wisconsin. We also hope that the career of a civil servant doesn't become a political football."

Among other things, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said Thompson intentionally inflated the score she gave Adelman as part of the seven- member committee evaluating proposals by companies to provide travel services for state employees, student-athletes and study-abroad programs.

Six of the seven members of that committee opted to award the largest contract, covering about 40 percent of state travel, to Omega World Travel of Fairfax, Va. But Thompson's high score for Adelman created a virtual tie, prompting the department to call for a "best and final" offer from the two companies.

With its revised bid, Adelman came in about $27,000 cheaper than Omega.

To sweeten the pot, Biskupic said, Thompson told members of the committee she inflated her scores for another travel agency - favored by some members of the group - when they were voting on a separate contract for athletic travel. The indictment says Thompson hoped to use that as a "negotiating tool" to get the group to back Adelman's bid for the larger state employee contract.

Neither Thompson nor her attorney, Steve Hurley, could be reached late Tuesday after the charges were announced. Thompson has previously denied any wrongdoing in the contract award. If convicted, Thompson could face up to 20 years in prison.

The case is being investigated jointly with state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and U.S. Attorney Steve Sinnott in Madison.

Federal authorities were involved in part because much of the money the state spends on travel comes from the U.S. government.

The indictment doesn't say which supervisors Thompson was allegedly seeking to help or whether she was pressured from above to favor Adelman, and Biskupic's office declined comment.
Adelman's chief executive, Craig Adelman, and a board member, Mitchell Fromstein, each gave Doyle's campaign a total of $10,000 - the maximum allowed - in the months before and after the contract was announced in March.

Thompson, who was hired under former GOP Gov. Scott McCallum, is a section chief within the DOA's Division of Enterprise Operations, which helps state agencies procure goods and services, including the state's vehicle fleet.

The division is headed by Patrick Farley, a former assistant Milwaukee County district attorney and labor lawyer for the Wisconsin Education Assocation Council, the state's largest teachers union. Efforts to reach Farley on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Farley reports to the secretary, who is considered the right hand of the governor. At the time, that was Marotta, who left last fall to head Doyle's re-election campaign. But Marotta said the contract was "very, very small" and never registered on the radar of anyone in upper management.

"Nobody at that level would have ever thought about it," Marotta said.

Bablitch, who took over in October, said as far as he could determine, the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder "and all appropriate procedures were followed," although at least one committee member publicly questioned reopening the bids.

Bablitch noted Adelman didn't win three of the four contracts it bid on, including a contract for booking travel online, which administration officials say could prove to be the most lucrative.

Under the contract Adelman received, the company gets a fee for each ticket it books but is not guaranteed a total amount. Officials have estimated the contract could earn the company $750,000 over three years if past travel is any indication. To date, the company has earned $36,000, Bablitch said.

Bablitch said Thompson will be assigned to different duties until the matter is resolved.

"We hope that this matter will get a swift and fair resolution, free from partisan politics," he said.

But Republicans were quick to pounce on the governor, who was visiting troops in Iraq on Tuesday and limited his remarks in a conference call with reporters earlier in the day to comments about that trip. Doyle has said in the past that he played no part in the contract award.
U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R- Green Bay, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, used the indictment to reiterate his reform plan, which includes banning contributions from individuals associated with companies bidding on state contracts.

His GOP rival, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, said Doyle should return contributions from such donors.

Potentially adding more fuel to the fire, the state Ethics Board is expected to announce today the outcome of its investigation into a Doyle campaign fundraiser, held by the Department of Transportation's No. 2 official, to which bidders on state engineering contracts were invited.

State and federal authorities are also looking into that event, as well as possible links between campaign donations to Doyle and state regulators' approval of the sale of a nuclear power plant.

Travel contract probe summary : Georgia Thompson, an official within the Department of Administration's procurement bureau and member of a committee that evaluated bids for a state employee travel contract, was indicted on charges of misapplication of funds and fraud related to the contract selection process.

INDICTMENT

ALLEGATION: Thompson is accused of inflating her score for Adelman Travel Group, which ultimately caused the contract worth up to $750,000 to be awarded to that company.

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Two Adelman officials each gave Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign $10,000 in the months before and after the contract was announced.

"DOYLE ETHICS" AND OTHER OXYMORONS


THURSDAY, Jan. 12, 2006, 3:49 p.m.
"DOYLE ETHICS" AND OTHER OXYMORONS
Note: This column appears in CNI Newspapers.)
By Charles Sykes

Imagine these best-sellers:

“My Dieting Secrets,” by Michael Moore

“12 Steps to Humility,” by Bill O’Reilly

“Restoring Political Ethics,” by Jim Doyle

But the last one isn’t a punchline. Last week, amid what one pundit called “a perfect storm” for the governor, Doyle hastily trotted out an “ethics plan,” that promptly – and predictably – turned into a political pratfall.

First was the Ellis problem.

Doyle’s press release touted the governor’s new-found virginity by claiming that he was joined in making his proposals by Republican State Senator Mike Ellis, the longtime champion of campaign finance reform proposals in the legislature. Ellis’s support for Doyle thus gave the announcement a veneer of credibility as well as bipartisanship.

The only problem?

While some of the information was cleared with a staffer, nobody cleared it with Ellis himself, who promptly called the governor “a liar,” and the “most ethically challenged governor” in the state’s history.

“The only reason Governor Doyle is now coming out in support of even this tepid reform package is so that he can cover his butt now that he’s under the microscope for alleged ethical lapses,” Ellis said.

“Suddenly, in an election year, when he is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state Justice Department, the governor gets religion and starts to pose for holy pictures. Give me a break.”

Noting that Doyle had also flown flew in a private airplane owned by a campaign donor to a basketball game in New Orleans, Ellis quipped: “Governor Doyle ought to get his state airplane out of the Bermuda Triangle, because clearly, his ethical compass is spinning like a top.”

One after another, Ellis ticked off the various probes: The investigation into the awarding of a state travel contract to campaign contributors, the approval of the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant after utility executives pumped cash into Doyle’s coffers, and questions about the award of road building contracts after a fund raising event held by honchos in Doyle’s Department of Transportation.

All of this on top of Doyle’s by-now notorious ties to tribal casino interests, the teachers unions, and the trial lawyers. For three years it has been pay to play writ large: Doyle gave the casinos “perpetual” compacts casinos, the teachers union got hundreds of millions of tax dollars; and the trial lawyers got vetoes of liability reform. Not surprisingly, Doyle’s “ethics” plan won’t do anything to staunch the flow of cash from any of those groups into the governor’s campaign warchest.

The day before his ethics-plan fiasco, Doyle reportedly had gotten testy with reporters who wanted to ask him about reports that the FBI probe into his pay to play had apparently expanded.

He had reason to be upset. While the Abramoff scandal has congressional Republicans skittish, it also guarantees that the role of tribal casino cash in politics will be the headlines for months.

In Wisconsin, say tribal casino cash and people think: “Diamond” Jim Doyle. That can’t be good.

Campaign Donation Investigation Expands Beyond Travel Contract


Sources: Campaign Donation Investigation Expands Beyond Travel Contract
Investigators Look At Nuclear Power Plant Sale

UPDATED: 7:13 pm CST December 21, 2005
MADISON, Wis. -- While federal, state and local investigators are looking into questionable campaign donations surrounding a state travel contract, the probe into Gov. Jim Doyle is now going beyond just that.
Investigators are currently looking into how travel agency Adelman Travel Systems won a state contract. The company apparently donated money to Doyle's re-election campaign. The governor has said he had nothing to do with it.
Now, two unnamed sources close to the investigation said that prosecutors have widened the probe beyond the concern over the contract, WISC-TV reported.
One of the sources said that investigators are looking into the Public Service Commission's decision to allow the sale of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant four months after the three-member commission rejected the deal.
At around the same time, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Doyle took in more than $41,000 in campaign cash from utility executives involved in the deal.
Doyle appoints members to the Public Service Commission, but the commission is designed to make independent decisions.
The controversy began when Virginia-based Dominion Resources asked the PSC two years ago for approval to buy the power plant from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Alliant Energy, who co-own it.
Three months later, Dominion executives donated $2,000 to Doyle's campaign.
In November 2004, the PSC rejected the deal, 2-1. Both of Doyle's appointees voted against it.
Later, that same month, WPS and Alliant executives gave $25,000 to Doyle's campaign.
Then, in January, the PSC re-opened the proposed sale and approved it on March 17 of this year. Both of Doyle's appointees switched their vote from no to yes.
In the month before and after the vote, WPS and Alliant Energy executives gave another $15,900 to Doyle's campaign.
The governor insists he had no influence on the vote.
"The Public Service Commission is a completely independent body, it makes independent decisions ... based on the record," Doyle said. "I do not make the decisions for the Public Service Commission, they make the decisions."
Dan Schooff, executive assistant for the PSC, also rejected suggestions that the commission was influenced, WISC-TV reported..
"Campaign considerations do not enter into official policy out here, they're not considered and they have no impact," Schooff said.
Schooff said that protections for ratepayers were put in the deal, which is why the two commission members changed their votes.
One of the two commissioners to change their vote was Burnie Bridge. She said that "the allegations about improper influence in the Kewaunee case are absolutely untrue and deeply offensive."
Bridge said that she studied the testimony, "my decision was based on that record-nothing more, nothing less."
The governor, nor any of his staff, have been interviewed by prosecutors, but are willing to if it comes to that, WISC-TV reported.
One of WISC-TV's unnamed sources said that Doyle will be questioned.
Prosecutors will be looking for any links between those donations and any influence on the PSC decision.
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