Monday, January 30, 2006

Doyle (D, WI) Tight-Lipped on Donation Probes


(Gov) Doyle (D, WI) Tight-Lipped on Donation Probes
Madison.com ^ | December 21, 2005 | David Callendar
Posted on 12/21/2005 1:14:52 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin

(Scope may widen over travel, nuke contracts...)

Gov. Jim Doyle today would not say whether he has spoken with investigators probing possible ties between donations to his re-election campaign and controversial decisions by his administration.

"I'm not going to comment. It doesn't mean I have or haven't," he said when questioned by reporters at a bill-signing ceremony. "It'd be for the investigators to talk about."

A source familiar with the investigation confirmed today that state and federal authorities are looking at the timing of campaign donations to Doyle by interest groups and key decisions by state agencies under his authority, including the awarding of a multi-year travel contract and the approval by the Public Service Commission of the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear plant.

The source indicated that the probe may extend beyond those two decisions.

Doyle has come under fire on both cases already.

He received more than $10,000 in campaign donations from officials from Adelman Travel, which was awarded a five-year contract to exclusively handle the state's travel arrangements, shortly after the state Department of Administration approved the contract.

Doyle and administration officials have responded that Adelman Travel was the low bidder on the contract, but some employees have said they felt pressured to award the contract to the firm.

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced last month that the state Justice Department, along with the Dane County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Milwaukee, would conduct a joint investigation whether the contract were awarded on the basis of so-called "pay-to-play" practices.

A source familiar with the investigation confirmed today that the probe has expanded to include contributions linked to the sale of the Kewaunee plant.

Lautenschlager announced earlier this month that she was examining whether state Public Service Commission officials violated the open meetings law by discussing the sale with parties involved in the sale.

Justice Department spokesman Kelly Kennedy declined to comment on the status of either probe. "We really cannot comment on the scope of an ongoing investigation," he said.

Doyle has also come under fire from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for the timing of donations to his reelection campaign just as officials from the Public Service Commission were voting on the sale of the power plant.

Doyle said today he has no influence over the commission's decisions.

"The Public Service Commission is a completely independent body," he said. "It makes independent decisions based on the record. I do not make the decisions of the Public Service Commission. They make the decisions," he said.

The governor does, however, appoint members of the Public Service Commission, and two of his appointees - former state Sen. Mark Meyer and former Doyle aide Burnie Bridge - initially voted against the sale and then reversed their position last year.

Campaign finance records compiled by the Democracy Campaign indicate, however, that officials from the owners of the plant - Alliant Energy and Wisconsin Public Service - gave more than $41,000 to Doyle after they first announced plans to sell it to Virginia-based Dominion Resources in 2003.

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