Friday, December 29, 2006


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.


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