While the media reports that Mary Burke apparently borrowed her ideas from several different sources …

… it turns out someone is swiping her ideas, wherever those ideas came from.

(By the way: I came up with the headline last week, though it showed up on Facebook Saturday by two of my Facebook Friends.)

Breitbart reports on South Dakota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer:

BuzzFeed reported Thursday that Susan Wismer, the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in South Dakota, has been caught plagiarizing from the already plagiarized jobs plan of the party’s Wisconsin gubernatorial nominee, Mary Burke. Wismer also plagiarized from the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in Texas, Wendy Davis.

Until this plagiarism of a plagiarized plan story broke on Thursday, Wismer liked to point out the similarities between herself and Burke of Wisconsin.

On her campaign website, for instance, the lead story in her news section cites an article published in the Washington Post last month, which reported that “Mary Burke made Wisconsin history Tuesday. She and South Dakota’s Susan Wismer — both of them Democrats — this year became the first women since 1970 and likely ever to secure a major-party nomination for governor in their respective states, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.” …

The instances of plagiarism first identified by BuzzFeed on Thursday (shown below) are numerous and blatant:

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

She knows how to make responsible decisions that keep a balance sheet in the black while creating jobs because she’s spent her career doing it. Scott Walker has taken a different approach. Despite making historic cuts to education, he’s turned a projected budget surplus into a deficit, and state spending has shot up by $4.6 billion.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

As an accountant, Susan knows how to make responsible decisions that keep a balance sheet in the black while creating jobs because she’s spent her career doing it. This governor has taken a different approach. After making historic cuts, he took a $127 million dollar budget surplus and padded his reserves rather than giving back what was cut to areas desperate for funding.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan

Mary believes Wisconsin schools should be among the best in the nation—and she knows that making historic cuts isn’t the way to do it. She’ll work every day to strengthen our public education system, from K-12 to our technical colleges and university system.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan believes South Dakota schools should be among the best in the nation and making historic cuts isn’t the way to do it. Susan will work every day to strengthen our public education system– from K-12 to our technical colleges and university system.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

Wendy Davis will build a well-trained workforce of teachers by engineering guaranteed pathways to careers in education and ensure ongoing support by raising teacher pay to be in line with the rest of the country.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan will build a well-trained workforce of educators and ensure ongoing support for them by raising salaries to be on par with the rest of the country.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

When responsibly invested, economic development funds can help bring new businesses and jobs into the state, promote innovation, and encourage technological advancements. But under the wrong leadership and without accountability, too often they become giveaways to special interests and insiders that drain valuable resources from essential investments like our schools and increase taxes on working Texas families.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document

Susan knows that the best businesses for communities are usually local businesses. When responsibly invested, economic development funds can help create new businesses and jobs, promote innovation, and encourage technological advancements. However, under the wrong leadership and without accountability, too often they become giveaways to special interests, corporations, and insiders that drain valuable resources from essential investments.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

As Governor, Wendy Davis will:

Promote transparency, accountability, and responsible investment of economic development funds to ensure they actually create jobs, as well as encourage innovation and development that benefits all Texans.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

As governor, Susan will promote transparency, accountability, and responsible investment of economic development funds to ensure they actually create jobs and encourage innovation and development that benefits all South Dakotans. She will establish strong, independent oversight of our incentive funds. Susan will ensure transparency and accountability of tax exemptions.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

The Walker administration has taken a different approach. Rejecting hundreds of millions of our own federal tax dollars means our money goes to cover health care in other states, and leaves us paying more as a state to cover fewer hard working Wisconsinites. It’s an example of what happens when you put politics ahead of progress. And it’s just wrong.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document

The Daugaard administration has rejected hundreds of millions of our own federal tax dollars, money that is covering healthcare in other states, and leaves us paying more to cover fewer hard-working South Dakotans. It’s an example of what happens when you put politics ahead of progress.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

Mary will overturn the current administration’s refusal to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of our taxpayer money back home to our state, where it belongs.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan will overturn the current administration’s refusal to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, bringing over $272 million of our taxpayer money back to South Dakota, while providing 48,000 South Dakotans with access to affordable, preventative health care.

Breitbart News requested a comment from the Wismer campaign but has not received a response.

There have been no reports yet that any other Democratic gubernatorial candidates have plagiarized Wismer’s plagiarization of Burke’s plagiarized plan. But with another 40 days still left until election day, it is still too early to discount the possibility of a third generation of campaign document plagiarization among Democrats this cycle.

It’s getting to the point that a diagram will be needed to connect who swiped which ideas from whom. One also wonders how many incorrect facts are in Wismer’s plan, such as the inaccurate claim about job growth in small business since the Recovery In Name Only began.

Of course, as I’ve pointed out ever since this hit the interwebs, the big issue here is much less about stolen ideas (though it speaks to Burke’s personal character) as it is the quality, or lack thereof, of those ideas. Advocating policies that will chop 120,000 jobs from the state doesn’t qualify under any sane person’s definition of “best practices.”

About those ideas, the Club for Growth observes:

On hearing Friday’s news that Mary Burke’s job-creation plan was plagiarized from other Democrats running for governor, in Delaware, Tennessee, and elsewhere we thought, well…there are think tanks whose business is to share such ideas.

But Burke reacted less calmly, firing the consultant responsible for the cut-and-paste job. Why? For duping her into thinking she had a jobs plan?

More intriguing than Burke snatching ideas that may be interchangeable among Democrats is her apparently scant familiarity with what she is proposing.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quoted her saying “This is my plan on how to drive Wisconsin’s economy forward,” later adding that she had made it “the centerpiece” of her campaign—begging the question of why she wouldn’t recognize material that wasn’t her own. The lingering impression is that the content doesn’t matter, least of all to Burke.

So what does matter in this singularly odd campaign?

A jobs plan outsourced because there had to be one; a resume mixing employment by a company her family owns with periods of prolonged unemployment and activity Burke strains to define.  A privileged baby-boomer in a candidacy disconnected from achievement, based solely on Mary Burke not being Scott Walker.  That. Is. All.

As Jim Doyle’s Commerce Secretary, effectively his chief job-creation officer, didn’t Burke have ideas of her own?  Dare we ask how they worked out? Weekend stories detailed more plagiarism that couldn’t have involved the fired consultant. Has Burke no agenda she can safely reveal?

If anything about the Democrats’ handpicked nominee seems familiar, seems to resonate with current realities in America, it’s the apparent detachment from the necessities of governing. A vaporous, unfocused figure glimpsed occasionally through swirling mists, the anti-Walker, nothing more.

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) points out:

Indeed much of Burke’s plan was copied, but not just from other campaigns.  Burke also plagiarized copyrighted material.  Her jobs plan, “Invest for Success”, directly copied material from “Manufacturing’s Secret Shift”, a study copyrighted in 2011 by Accenture, one of the world’s largest consulting firms.

Take a look at these two passages, the first from Accenture, the second Burke’s.

“Companies are beginning to realize that having offshored much of their manufacturing and supply operations away from their demand locations, they hurt their ability to meet their customers’ expectations…” 

“But today, many companies are beginning to realize that moving their manufacturing and supply operations overseas has hurt their ability to serve their customers.”

This is sometimes referred to as mosaic plagiarism, the splicing of key phrases with only minor changes within the same sentence structure and meaning.  A Harvard grad like Burke might know this.  The rest of us can Google “Harvard mosaic plagiarism.” That Burke plagiarized copyrighted material is beyond doubt, but there is more.

Mary Burke might “take the time to read the whole” Accenture study she was plagiarizing. It might help her understand why her proposals for Wisconsin are so misguided.  Accenture asked manufacturers to identify the most important factors in selecting locations for their operations.  Respondents ranked as most important these factors: labor costs, proximity to the customer, skills of workforce, taxes, transportation costs, and government regulations.

Wisconsin must be more competitive in attracting and keeping manufacturing in our state. We need to improve the skills of our workers, reduce taxes and streamline regulations. Mary Burke’s mistake is much bigger than plagiarism. Burke is advocating failed liberal ideas that would move us in the wrong direction on labor costs, taxes and regulations.


Another sign of political infestation

Cass Sunstein appears to have found another form of discrimination:

If you are a Democrat, would you marry a Republican? Would you be upset if your sister did?

Researchers have long asked such questions about race, and have found that along important dimensions, racial prejudice is decreasing. At the same time, party prejudice in the U.S. has jumped, infecting not only politics but also decisions about dating, marriage and hiring. By some measures, “partyism” now exceeds racial prejudice — which helps explain the intensity of some midterm election campaigns.

In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel “displeased” if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent. Republicans have been found to like Democrats less than they like people on welfare or gays and lesbians. Democrats dislike Republicans more than they dislike big business.

Consider one of the most influential measures of prejudice: the implicit-association test, which is simple to take. You see words on the upper corners of a screen — for example, “white” paired with either “good” or “bad” in the upper left corner, and “black” paired with one of those same adjectives in the upper right. Then you see a picture or a word in the middle of the screen — for example, a white face, an African-American face, or the word “joy” or “terrible.” Your task is to click on the upper corner that matches either the picture or the word in the middle.

Many white people quickly associate “joy” with the upper left corner when it says “white” and “good” — but have a harder time associating “joy” with the left corner when the words there are “black” and “good.” So too, many white people quickly associate “terrible” with the left corner when it says “black” and “bad,” but go a lot more slowly when the left corner says “white” and “bad.”

To test for political prejudice, Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, political scientists at Stanford University, conducted a large-scale implicit association test with 2,000 adults. They found people’s political bias to be much larger than their racial bias. When Democrats see “joy,” it’s much easier for them to click on a corner that says “Democratic” and “good” than on one that says “Republican” and “good.”

To find out whether such attitudes predict behavior, Iyengar and Westwood undertook a follow-up study. They asked more than 1,000 people to look at the resumes of several high-school seniors and say which ones should be awarded a scholarship. Some of these resumes contained racial cues (“president of the African American Student Association”) while others had political ones (“president of the Young Republicans”).

Race mattered. African-American participants preferred the African-American candidates 73 percent to 27 percent. Whites showed a modest preference for African-American candidates, as well, though by a significantly smaller margin. But partisanship made a much bigger difference. Both Democrats and Republicans selected their in-party candidate about 80 percent of the time.

Even when a candidate from the opposing party had better credentials, most people chose the candidate from their own party. With respect to race, in contrast, merit prevailed.

In a further test of political prejudice, Iyengar and Westwood asked 800 people to play the trust game, well known among behavioral scientists: Player 1 is given some money (say, $10) and told that she can give some, all or none of it to Player 2. Player 1 is then told that the researcher will triple the amount she allocates to Player 2 — and that Player 2 can give some of that back to Player 1. When Player 1 decides how much money to give Player 2, a central question is how well she trusts him to return an equivalent or greater amount.

Are people less willing to trust people of a different race or party affiliation? The researchers found that race didn’t matter — but party did. People are significantly more trusting of others who share their party affiliation.

What accounts for the explosive growth of political prejudice? Modern campaigns deserve some of the blame. Iyengar and his colleagues show that when people are exposed to messages that attack members of the opposing party, their biases increase. But the destructive power of partyism is extending well beyond politics into people’s behavior in daily life.

First: It is wrong to discriminate against people based on immutable characteristics — for instance, race. It may or may not be wrong to discriminate against someone for non-immutable characteristics. Do you want a convicted child molester working with your children?

As usual, you have to sift through a load of it’s-the-other-side’s-fault comments to get to the crux of what Sunstein identifies:

  • While politics and party ideology are the easy targets, the culprit is the continuous expansion of the size, scope and reach of the US government.
  • Why would that explain the animosity towards opposing political parties which is greater than racism?
  • Because as more and more of your life is exposed to and impacted by politics, the more threatening someone with opposing political views becomes.
  • I would generally agree with that premise only to add that they become more threatening as an individual ties their own well being to that of a political party. So when their party or any of their ideas are assaulted in some manner, it’s taken personally.
    Still, I’m curious why the original poster would suggest this has anything to do with the size of government. It just seems like a sidestep of the original issue presented in this article.
  • You’re missing the point. it’s not that people’s well being is tied to a political party, it’s that as governments grows, the non-political sphere shrinks. To paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. The federal government dictates the heath insurance I must purchase, the gas mileage my car must get, what kind of light bulbs I can buy, what’s in my kid’s school lunches and a thousand other things.
    If the government’s role was limited to what a strict reading of the constitution allows, very few people would be interested in anybody else’s political leanings. But, for better and for worse, that’s not the world we live in.
  • We have reduced politics to a sport in which people display passionate but blind loyalty to their own team while heaping vitriol on the other. The spirit of respectful and reasoned debate backed by a willingness to compromise has been lost, and our democracy can’t function effectively without it.
  • Maybe there isn’t anything valuable being put forth. Maybe the politicians themselves invent problems and crisis and the perception that they can fix them. Maybe Americans have finally started to realize that government is inept to solve problems and thus should be a minimized “necessary evil”
    “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” – Thomas Paine
  • I’d suggest that what the article reports upon is quite real — widespread revulsion with liberal and conservative viewpoints, to the point that an increasing number of people cannot be paid off to go along with either one.
    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a fairly large number of self-described conservatives are not particularly conservative, they are best described as “vehemently opposed to the liberal agenda.” In fact, when “their” conservative agenda is attacked, they have little to say in favor of conservatism, responding almost entirely with anti-liberal venom.
    Ditto a fairly large number of self-described liberals.
  • The political divisions that exist in this country are driven more by media than anything else.
    At ground level I have friends and work associates of all political persuasions and we rarely quarrel or hate over those differences.
    Want to feel hate and contempt? Turn on the TV or jump on the Internet. Want to avoid those negativities? Spend most of your time among actual people. People in person rarely quibble about politics, practical concerns make up the day.
    The author not only does a poor job isolating media as a major factor but also plays up the divisiveness for the sake of a column.
    The media is owned and run by the powers-that-be; evidently they’d much rather we quarrel with each other than with them.
    That in fact is the crux of the matter; divide-to-rule is one of the oldest and most pervasive power strategies in the book. See the button-pushing clearly for what it is.
  • Attempting to draw conclusions about reality from artificial “studies” with limited participation (while a favorite hobby of Sunstein’s) is fraught with risk.
    That said, are we really surprised that politics trumps race in the “trust” test? A white person and a black person are not, necessarily, adversaries in any particular sense. But political parties are, necessarily, antagonistic: in any given house, senate or presidential race, only one candidate wins. So if I give $10 to my opponent and they receive $40–and the only thing I know about that person is their political affiliation–I now know that this person has every rational reason to keep $40, even if that person is kind and trustworthy.
    Of course, this has no bearing on reality. In real life, there are reasons why people may reach across the aisle–the most obvious being that life is a repetitive game and someone in a majority position today may be in a minority position tomorrow. There is zero reason to expect that to be replicated in the lab.

It may shock some readers to know that I have liberals in my own family. In fact, at one of our Christmas celebrations talking about politics was banned by the powers-that-be. (Mothers, of course.) I also have friends whose political viewpoints differ substantially from mine.

The fact is, however, that politics is a zero-sum game. One side wins, which means the other side loses. Next year maybe the winner and loser switch sides, but the zero-sum game remains, with, unlike a sporting event, no end. (Except, of course, for John Maynard Keynes’ observation that “In the long run we are all dead.”) As Douglas MacArthur said about war, in politics there is no substitute for victory, even if the victory is often fleeting and sometimes Pyrrhic.

There are some political issues that are truly zero-sum. If you believe that, for instance, abortion or war are truly evil, then the correct number of abortions or wars is zero. If you believe that life begins at conception, then reducing the number of abortions in half still means that that number of lives are being snuffed out. If war is the worst thing on this planet, then you’re not very happy with, well, any presidential administration since Herbert Hoover.

Some of this, I suppose, could be blamed on our I-am-the-center-of-the-universe society. Try talking to a diehard Bears fan about the Packers. Try talking to a Government Motors enthusiast about, say, Toyota. Suggest to a Beatles fan that the band might be overrated, but you had better have a leg pointing in an escape direction. I know huge fans of fantasy football, but I question the use of a made-up sport that, frankly, measures the wrong things instead of what counts in sports — wins and losses.

Of course, you can choose to watch the Bears or Packers (or no football at all), you can buy one brand of car instead of another, and you can choose or not to participate in a particular pastime. Trotsky’s alleged statement (which sounds like something Yakov Smirnoff would say) is absolutely and unfortunately correct.

I don’t have a sister, but I do have children. I am positive I will have no input on their choice of spouse. That question is moot, because parents don’t have a vote. (Entertaining side note: My mother, raised a Methodist, was to marry my father, raised Roman Catholic. Before the wedding day, an ex-boyfriend of my mother’s called my grandmother to implore her to forbid my mother from marrying one of those Catholics. My grandmother, also a Methodist, told the ex where he should go.)

The thing about people with political views that differ from your own, it seems to me, is the extent to which your political opponent feels the need to jam his or her views down your throat. My observation from experience is that liberals base their arguments on emotions, whereas conservatives base theirs on logic, but that doesn’t necessarily always apply. (The same could be said by replacing “liberals” with “women” and “conservatives” with “men,” irrespective of the political viewpoints being expressed, but that could be a generalization too.) I know liberals and conservatives who literally cannot shut up about politics, and even the ones I agree with can become annoying.

Politics should not be the be-all and end-all of your life. It is possible that if you meet someone who has different political views from yours, that person may have other different views that makes that person incompatible with you. Or maybe they just have different political views. Mature people should know what is important.


Chisholm vs. Lutz

Stuart Taylor follows up on his report of the real character of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm:

After missing a scoop on Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm’s long-running investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writers, along with the district attorney’s staff, hunted down the key source who had asked for anonymity, fearing retaliation.

That story, produced by the American Media Institute and published by Legal Newsline last week, said that the district attorney’s wife was a teachers union shop steward, had taken part in demonstrations against the Republican governor’s proposal to curb public employee unions and was repeatedly moved to tears by governor’s legislative crusade.

Chisholm, a Democrat, said privately that it was his “personal duty to stop Walker,” the confidential source said.

AMI’s confidential source was a former prosecutor in Chisholm’s office who feared his reputation and his law practice would suffer if he were unmasked.

The district attorney’s staff launched a Nixon-style “mole hunt” to find the anonymous source, a Journal Sentinel columnist said, and was annoyed that the description of the confidential source wasn’t precise enough to identify him. The staff developed a list of roughly a dozen suspects, the columnist said. The Journal Sentinel never reported this secret search.

The feared retaliation was not long in coming. The Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, whose “political watchdog” column is titled “No Quarter,” appeared after dark at the source’s home on Sept. 11. Bice’s persistent door-bell ringing and heavy knocks awakened and frightened the source’s sleeping 12-year-old daughter, he said. The noise was so loud that a neighbor came out to investigate the din, he said.

When the source, a decorated and disabled-in-the-line-of-duty police officer, Michael Lutz, came to the door, he opened it a crack to hear Bice demand to know if he was the person quoted in the story. He did not deny it and speaks exclusively on the record in this story for the first time.

Lutz says he has been friends with John and Colleen Chisholm for more than a decade. He admires the district attorney, considering him a role model and mentor. He says he worked with Chisholm as a police officer and in the district attorney’s office, first as a law school intern in 2010 and as a special prosecutor in 2011 – a period of more than a year, not the five-and-a-half months reported by Bice.

(An editing change in this reporter’s Sept. 9 article identified Lutz as a “longtime Chisholm subordinate,” which has been faulted as inaccurate. Even if valid, the criticism has little or no relevance to Lutz’s credibility in light of what can now be revealed about him. In any event, police officers can be called subordinate to the district attorney.)

Lutz says he met with Chisholm in his private office in 2011 and was surprised when he heard the district attorney say that his wife had wept repeatedly and joined demonstrations against Walker, who was fighting for and winning legislative approval of his union reforms. Lutz said Chisholm demonstrated what he called a “hyper-partisan” bias against Walker.

Lutz’s motivation for speaking out was based on principle: “I don’t like what he [Chisholm] has done in regard to political speech that he disagrees with.”

Revealing how Chisholm allegedly spoke of his wife’s anguish in connection with his own determination to “stop” Walker, Lutz said, wasn’t meant to harm her. “I never did anything to hurt anyone,” Lutz said. “I just wanted to speak the truth because I don’t think it’s right the way they are stifling speech.”

Citing one previously unreported example, Lutz mentions not being “allowed” to express an opposing viewpoint. He wrote in an May 20, 2012, email to an unidentified person:

When “I was a Special Prosecutor in the DA’s office and [Wisconsin Supreme Court] Justice [David] Prosser approached me to do a [pre-election] video spot about how the decision authored by him about the guy who shot me was a very important ruling for Police officers in general, DA Chisholm … stated that he couldn’t allow me to do it and he wants to stay as far away from these Republicans as he can … Fast forward 8 months and HIS [Chisholm’s] liberal block of DA’s, 80% of them, are actively campaigning, emailing, and even verbally bashing Walker at meetings. I think Chisholm has left the reservation and now has his flag firmly planted in the liberal left’s camp.”

Prosser won his election in April 2011. He voted with the majority on July 31 when the state Supreme Court upheld Walker’s reforms by a vote of 5-2.

Lutz felt he had a lot to lose if his identity were revealed, which Bice and the Journal Sentinel did on Sept. 12. Lutz felt that if he were exposed as the source, it would be hard to find clients once everyone in the county knew that the district attorney was now his enemy.

Most journalists’ first instinct is to protect the identity of whistleblowers against powerful people likely to retaliate against them. Not columnist Bice or the Journal Sentinel. They have devoted their energy to exposing Lutz’s identity, subjecting him to attacks, and seeking to discredit him.

Chisholm’s wide-ranging investigation into Walker, his staff and 29 nonprofit conservative groups was accompanied by sweeping subpoenas for documents, phone records, emails, cell phones, computers and more; predawn raids on conservative activists’ homes without allowing them to call their lawyers; and “gag orders” about the investigation. These gag orders silenced virtually all of the conservative movement in Wisconsin by denying its leaders the chance to defend themselves publicly.

This was by design, say critics who characterize the investigation itself as a political vendetta by a Democratic district attorney against a Republican governor.

Over the years, Chisholm’s office has consistently denied political motivations, stressing the roles of two Republican district attorneys who opened proceedings to help enlarge his investigation’s territorial reach, and that of Francis Schmitz, a political independent who was made Special Prosecutor and titular head of the investigation in August 2013.

The entire investigation was found unconstitutional and temporarily blocked by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in a May 8 decision that is now on appeal. During the Sept. 9 oral arguments, one of the three federal appellate judges, Frank Easterbrook, noted that the gag orders appeared to be “screamingly unconstitutional” while expressing doubt (as did Judge Diane Wood) that the case belonged in federal court. …

Lutz provided additional information and documents that call into question the objectivity of the Journal Sentinel’s reporting.

As a police officer working in Milwaukee, Lutz was named “Professional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” in 1997 and again in 2007. He received the Milwaukee Police Department’s Purple Award of Valor in 2009, commendations for heroism in 1996 and 2006, and an Award of Merit from the FBI in 2006. In all, he won 11 honors and decorations.

Injured in the line of duty, he retired on disability pay and went to law school, earning his degree in December 2010. He worked in Chisholm’s office to gain experience from June 2010 to July 2011.

When Lutz went into private practice, Chisholm wrote a memo to him on July 27, 2011, that said his service “has been exemplary,” that his “dedication and hard work … have proved to be invaluable,” and that “I am extremely grateful for the service you provided.”

In a previous letter of recommendation from November 2007, Chisholm wrote that Lutz had been “one of the best investigators in the Milwaukee police department” and had “removed some of the most dangerous offenders from the streets of Milwaukee” while combining “a remarkable memory with unceasing hard work and courage.”

Critics of the Journal Sentinel’s coverage of Chisholm’s investigation of Walker, his staff and his allies have long complained of what they call biased reporting and commentary, especially by Bice, overseen by Managing Editor George Stanley.

“Dan Bice and the Journal Sentinel have abandoned journalistic standards in covering the long-running investigation of Gov. Scott Walker, his staff, and allied conservative advocacy groups,” said George Mitchell, a former journalist who worked for former U.S. Rep. Les Aspin and former Wisconsin Gov. Pat Lucey – both Democrats.

“Bice and the paper have relied heavily on material that originated from illegal leaks. They have smeared numerous innocent people who were barred by secrecy orders from responding to rumors and leaks. They have dishonestly portrayed completely legal and widespread political conduct. The list goes on. It is long.”

Lutz says he has no animus toward Chisholm, adding he gave $200 last month for a Chisholm campaign fundraiser. He has visited the Chisholms’ home several times and gone to dinners, after-work functions, and other outings with one or both of them over the years.

As to the effect of the Journal Sentinel campaign to discredit him, Lutz said in an email:

“I have relocated my kids to prevent them from being brought to tears by any more J-S reporters and to protect them from the onslaught that has already begun. All for telling the truth.”

The consequences for telling that truth are already being felt, Lutz writes. “My law practice … is over in MKE [Milwaukee]. There is no doubt, as one person has put it, that I am already blacklisted. . . . . Supporting the family will be difficult. Of course, it has been a huge undertaking to go through 4 surgeries, take care of 2 children, drive back and forth to Madison daily in order to get my law license … only to be persecuted for simply telling the truth.”

In response to suggestions by the Journal Sentinel that Lutz must not be telling the truth because no other current or former employee of the district attorney’s office has corroborated his allegations, Lutz says: “No one in the current DA’s office or any practicing attorney in Milwaukee would dare speak up against Chisholm or even mention a suggestion of partisanship. Their [private] practice would be killed in Milwaukee. Mine is finished but I can still rely on my police pension.”

Mitchell adds:

In a responsible newsroom, Chisholm and Lutz would get equal scrutiny and balanced reporting.  There’s obviously no chance of that happening.

In a responsible legal environment, Lutz’s claims would get independent scrutiny, perhaps by the state’s Judicial Commission.  Chisholm is an officer of the court.  The Commission’s “task is to enforce high standards of judicial behavior, both on and off the bench, without compromising judicial independence. [It] strives to maintain public confidence in the judiciary by providing a forum for the expeditious and fair disposition of complaints of judicial misconduct and disability.”  If ever there was a case of where “public confidence” is at issue, this is it.

Intellectual laziness, incorrect facts and bad ideas

Mary Burke made news last week, and not news of the good kind for a political candidate.

If Burke’s jobs plan seems familiar, there’s a good reason, M.D. Kittle reports:

Buzzfeed, which has had its own PR black eyes with plagiarism, reported late Thursday that Burke’s plan, “Invest for Success” pilfers entire passages from the jobs plans laid out by Delaware Democratic Gov. Jack Markell in 2008, and Democratic gubernatorial candidates Ward Cammack of Tennessee in 2009 and John Gregg of Indiana in 2012.

A spokesman for the Burke campaign told BuzzFeed News an “expert” named Eric Schnurer, “who also worked on the other campaigns(,) as responsible for the similar text, a case of self-plagiarism.” Schnurer is founder and president of Philadelphia-based consulting firm Public Works.

Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Schnurer was let go as soon the camp was made aware of the BuzzFeed report.

Zepecki defended the swiping, telling the newspaper the sections represented “fewer than 10 paragraphs of a 49-page plan.” …

BuzzFeed cited several passages in Burke’s plan pulled nearly verbatim from the work of others, including:

Ward Cammack’s plan:

Expanding intern programs to provide help to small farmers and also give students direct agricultural education and experience.

And here’s Burke:

Expanding intern programs to provide help to small farmers and also give students direct agricultural education and experience.

Here’s Gregg:

At the same time, small-and medium-sized businesses have been hiring new employees at a faster rate than large companies since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2009.

And here’s Burke:

And in the short-term, small-and medium-sized businesses have been hiring new employees at a faster rate than large companies since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2009.

You can read all of Cammack’s plan here … if you have nothing better to do.

This is one of the things that as someone with a degree in political science (for what that’s worth) and in journalism (for what that’s worth), I just shake my head. It is just lazy for Schnurer to copy and paste his own work instead of rewriting it, particularly in an era in which your own previous work is probably somewhere on the World Wide Web. This certainly doesn’t reflect well on the Burke campaign either, because someone working for the campaign evidently didn’t vet Schnurer enough, as demonstrated by Schnurer’s firing for the offense of publicly embarrassing his employer.

The next thing that comes to mind is that only one of the three Democrats got elected with this plan, whoever belonged to it first, and him in a generally Democratic state. Since the first goal of politics is to get elected, this document is one for three on that test, which is good in baseball and volleyball hitting and nowhere else.

This is more a case of intellectual laziness on the part of Burke (who, remember, derided Scott Walker’s 2010 economic plan as appearing to have been written by an eighth-grader) than plagiarism, even though if you put your name on it, it’s your work whether or not you actually did the work. (Which I suppose makes Burke an accessory to self-plagiarism, or something.) Wisconsin is neither Indiana nor Tennessee nor Delaware. Apparently Burke, or Burke’s campaign, could not be bothered to create a Wisconsin-centric document, which makes you question how serious Burke is about being governor. (Which is, of course, different from getting elected governor.)

BuzzFeed reports that that’s not the only instance of Burke’s borrowed work:

In Mary Burke’s Invest in our Rural Communities  plan:

Here’s a Council Of State Governments report from 2003:

At a time when U.S. manufacturing employment is generally on the decline, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs on the horizon.

And here’s Burke:

While manufacturing employment in general has been declining for years, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs.

In Mary Burke’s recent Plan for Wisconsin Veterans:

Here’s a 2013 Dunn County News column:

The opposition argued that the bill would impose additional burdens on those that were injured — and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases made it through the lengthened court process.

And here’s Burke:

This places additional burdens on those who were injured and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases make it through the lengthened court process.

Here’s the Wisconsin Food Cooperative’s website:

The WFHC helps local farmers by providing them with the opportunity, through marketing, sales, aggregation, and logistics, to access wholesale markets they could not access easily before.

And here’s Burke:

Promoting the replication of Food Hubs for helping small farmers get their produce to retail markets, profitably. The Food Hub model, exemplified by the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative (WFHC), helps local farmers – through marketing, sales, aggregation, and logistics – to access wholesale markets.

Here’s the National Rural Health Institute:

Although only one-third of all motor vehicle accidents occur in rural areas, two-thirds of the deaths attributed to these accidents occur on rural roads.

And here’s Burke:

And although only one-third of motor vehicle accidents occur in rural areas, two-thirds of automobile fatalities occur on rural roads.

Here’s the Journal of Extension on incubator farms:

An incubator farm is typically a place where people are given temporary, exclusive, and affordable access to small parcels of land and infrastructure, and often training, for the purpose of honing skills and launching farm businesses.

And here’s Burke:

An incubator farm, like other entrepreneurial incubators, is a place where aspiring farmers can have temporary affordable access to small parcels of land and infrastructure, training, practice, and mentorship for the purpose of honing skills and launching farm businesses.

The plagiarism, if that’s what you want to call it, is actually the least of the issues here. No one is concerned when good ideas are borrowed from someone else. Did Bill Clinton plagiarize from Tommy Thompson when Clinton came up with federal welfare reform? Who cares? Welfare reform was something whose time was long overdue. When Ronald Reagan proposed income tax cuts when he was running for president, I doubt Arthur Laffer cared whether or not Reagan gave him credit. Are all of the Democrats running on increasing the minimum wage guilty of plagiarism from whoever thought of it first?

Wisconsin lefties have been complaining for years about the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Gaia forbid if one of their ideas ever ends up in a bill in the Legislature. A good idea — for instance, fiscal responsibility, a big ALEC issue — stands up regardless of whether it’s an original idea or not. (More on that later.)

Since perception is reality in politics, Jerry Bader notes how this hurts Burke:

In my formative years in talk radio someone once taught me: “don’t answer questions people aren’t asking.” That’s a radio consultant’s clever way of saying be relevant with your topics. In politics the strategy of answering questions people aren’t asking is often employed to avoid answering the questions people are asking. It’s the politician’s equivalent of the magician’s sleight of hand; get the audience to watch one hand so they won’t notice what the other hand is doing. With the media playing the role of her lovely assistant, gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is attempting to pull off such a trick. …

All of this is decidedly answering a question no one is asking. Burke isn’t under fire because Schnurer “plagiarized himself.” She’s under fire for passing off his ideas as her own. With Governor Scott Walker falling short on his pledge of 250,000 jobs created in his first term, Burke unveiled the plan in an effort to establish her economic gravitas. And as noted above, there was little uncertainty at the time that this was being presented as Mary Burke’s plan, created by her based on her Ivy League education and personal business experience. We now know that’s not true. Yet Burke isn’t speaking to that point and the media isn’t pressing her to answer a question people are indeed asking. …

Yet, in this case, Burke is the hapless victim of an unscrupulous consultant. When they called the plan “thoughtful and substantial” back in March, was there any doubt the JS was lauding what it believed to be Burke’s thoughts and substance? This is a case of plagiarism, but not on Eric Schnurer’s part. Burke passed off his ideas as her own when she unveiled this plan. Of course, given that most of the ideas are well established liberal pabulum (full disclosure: The Weekly Standard called them that before I did) we should have known they weren’t Burke’s original thought. That might be her most honest possible defense of all.

Beyond its lack of originality, Burke’s, or Schnurer’s, plan needed an editor and a proofreader because, Tom Blumer reports:

The real problem with Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s “jobs plan” … isn’t its plagiarized material. It’s the content. The presence of certain obviously wrong facts and patently pathetic assertions indicates that Ms. Burke, a successful entrepreneur who one would think should have known better, hardly scrutinized her plan at all before allowing its publication. …

Burke’s plan claims that “small-and medium-sized businesses have been hiring new employees at a faster rate than large companies since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2009.”

Bloomberg reported in January 2013 that “Payrolls at firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for less than 50 percent of the total workforce for the first time in 2008 during the recession and have barely recovered.”

In March of 2013, Joel Kotkin at Forbes wrote:

… small business is still in recession. The number of startup jobs per 1,000 Americans over the past four years fell a full 30% below the levels of the Bush and Clinton eras…. a recent Brookings study reveals … (that) larger businesses came out of the recovery stronger, not their beleaguered smaller counterparts.

Burke’s material here in this regard isn’t just plagiarized; it’s dated boilerplate. The statement about small business was predominantly true for decades before the most recent recession; since then, it has not been. This tells me that Burke and her team didn’t really vet the material they were presented, not only for originality but for simple accuracy.

Another claim copied verbatim was made in plagiarized materials about other states in previous years:

Our university and college systems have made great progress in aligning requirements for course work to make transferring credits easier.

Given the plagiarism, it would seem fair to assert that even if this statement is true, it’s only by accident, and not the result of any specific research into Badger State higher education practices.

Going to the detailed jobs plan, even the most basic claims Burke makes don’t hold up, like this one:

When I served as Wisconsin’s Commerce Secretary, Wisconsin had 72,000 more jobs than it does now, based on the latest data.

The plan specifically refers to the following table at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is as of roughly February of this year:


There is no point in time during Burke’s 2005-2007 tenure when Wisconsin’s statewide employment was 72,000 jobs higher than at the right end of the graph. The largest difference is roughly 55,000.

Burke also claimed, as if we’re supposed to be impressed, that:

The state’s annual average unemployment rate was never higher than 4.8% when I was Commerce Secretary – but unemployment has never been below 6.1% under the current Administration.

At the time it was written, the state’s February seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was 0.6 points below the national average. Its August rate of 5.6 percent was a half-point lower. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in February of 2005 was 0.6 points below the nation’s 5.4 percent. In October 2007, the last full month of Burke’s tenure as the State’s Secretary of Commerce, the state’s unemployment rate of 4.7 percent was the same as the rest of the nation. Compared to the U.S. as a whole, Wisconsin squandered its lead under Burke, but has stayed ahead under Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin’s current unadjusted unemployment rate is only 5.1 percent, which under the left’s “new normal” definition, is actually below, i.e., better than, full employment, which they now define as 5.5 percent unemployment.

I could go on, but I don’t need to. Readers can see that plagiarism is the least of the problems with Mary Burke’s jobs plan. Basic accuracy is its primary shortcoming.

The better question is whether or not Burke’s plan (or whoever wants to take ownership of the plan) would actually create jobs. Collin Roth gives four reasons the exact opposite would happen:

1.) The Minimum Wage - Mary Burke supports the nationwide initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Burke has said, “I think increasing the minimum wage leads to people being able to support themselves and their families, and we can do it in a way that’s not going to hurt job creation.”

But according to a study by Dr. David MacPherson of Trinity University commissioned by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association (WRA), hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 could cost as many as 16,500 jobs in Wisconsin. The WRA study finds that “increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would eliminate 16,500 jobs—over half of which are jobs held by women. The bulk of the job losses would be concentrated among individuals with a high school degree or less, and among people who work in the retail or leisure & hospitality industries.”

2.) The Northern Wisconsin Mine - Mary Burke was made it very clear that she opposes the GTac mine and if elected would work to put a stop to it. “I’m against that mine,” Burke told a Madison radio show in 2013.

The GTac mine is a $1.5 billion investment in Northern Wisconsin and is anticipated to support 3,175 jobs during the two year construction phase. Once constructed, the mine would create around 700 jobs at the mine while supporting 2,834 jobs in the 12 county region surrounding the mine.

3.) Obamacare - Mary Burke has made expanding Obamacare in Wisconsin a centerpiece of her campaign. In 2008, Burke campaigned for President Obama and touted his healthcare reform. An MSNBC interview said “Burke is an unequivocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act.”

But once again, studies have revealed that the Affordable Care Act is, and will, take a toll on the Wisconsin economy. A recent study from the American Action Fund found that Obamacare has already cost 4,239 jobs at small businesses in Wisconsin. And when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the ACA could result in 2.5 million job losses by 2024, Americans for Tax Reform broke that down into each state. ATR projects that Wisconsin could lose 51,633 jobs.

4.) EPA Regulations - In an interview with Politico, Mary Burke was given the opportunity to explain any policy or position that she might disagree with President Obama. After a 12 second pause, Burke took the life preserver from her aide and said trade issues.

President Obama’s new EPA regulations are anticipated to be nothing short of a bomb dropped on the Wisconsin economy. A study from the Heritage Foundation found that Wisconsin could lose 11,702 jobs by 2023 due to the EPA regulations on carbon emissions. In addition, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) found that new ozone standards being pushed by the EPA could be the costliest regulation in history. In Wisconsin, the new ozone standards would result in 52,031 lost jobs or job equivalents.

Burke’s positions on these four issues prove that Burke really knows nothing about Wisconsin business beyond her family’s own business. Whether or not someone gets a business degree, someone in business at some point learns that things that increase expenses (wage increases not based on improving the business, ObamaCare) are bad for business, which mean they’re bad for employees.

Someone probably should tell Burke that the three biggest business sectors in Wisconsin are manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. If Burke knew that, she might realize, or someone might be able to get her to understand, that the EPA’s dumping 52,000 Wisconsin manufacturing jobs would be bad for Wisconsin. And then maybe someone could get Burke to understand that a higher minimum wage’s dumping 16,500 jobs in one part of tourism would also be bad for Wisconsin. And then maybe someone could get Burke to understand that ObamaCare’s trashing 51,000 jobs across every sector of Wisconsin business would also be bad for Wisconsin.

You need not use Invest for Success in Delaware/Indiana/Tennessee/Wisconsin as evidence that Burke is not serious about being governor. Burke’s positions on her supposed strength, business, prove that she’s not a serious candidate for governor. Mitch Henck wrote in the Wisconsin State Journal Sunday that Burke “has to convince voters she’s a pro-business Democrat …” when the only correct word in that phrase is “Democrat.”

No sense of Democratic decency

The headline refers to something that happened 60 years ago …

… which makes what is happening in the governor’s and attorney general’s races ironic, in addition to indecent.

Start with the governor’s race and the reaction to the apparent motivation for Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s John Doe persecution, from Right Wisconsin:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fulfilled their mission Friday morning to out and smear Michael Lutz, the whistleblower who was the source for Stuart Taylor’s report on partisanship in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office. The smear is indeed ugly and the reporter even went so far as to imply that Lutz’s PTSD did not make him a credible source.

But who is Michael Lutz?

Currently, Lutz is an attorney in private practice with the firm Canfield & Lutz. He served on the Millwaukee Police Department for 17 years before obtaining his law degree in 2010. During his 17 years on the force Lutz was involved in two high profile incidents…

In 2003, Lutz was involved in an incident that left Timothy Nabors paralyzed in a high profile shooting. Nabors claimed he was unarmed, but soon admitted he was indeed armed. …

In October 2005, Lutz was involved in a very high profile incident as a Milwaukee Police Officer that ended with Lutz being shot in the arm. Steve Spingola recounts the incident in the Spingola Files.

On October 3, 2005, as he had done for the past 16-years, Mike Lutz arrived for duty with the Milwaukee Police Department.  Little did he know that this would be—for all practical purposes—his last official day as a street cop.

Lt. Mike Dubis, Sgt. Mike Hartert, Sandoval, Lutz, and Officer John Osowski rolled-up to execute a no-knock search warrant for weapons at 905 W. Harrison Street—an apartment building wedged between the street and the Kinnickinnic River to the south.  Sgt. Hartert was in full uniform, while the other officers present were dressed in civilian attire with their badges plainly visible.  A man, who was outside when the officers arrived in their unmarked squad cars and shouting “police” and “search warrant” in both English and Spanish, ran inside Apartment Four—the search warrant’s targeted location. When the officers attempted for force the door, the man tried to hold the door shut.

“I proceeded to the door. I announce ‘Milwaukee police. Milwaukee police,’ Lutz testified. “I have my gun in my right hand extended before me, and I have my left hand out to push open the door, and I start pushing open the door as I’m yelling, ‘Milwaukee Police.’

“The door gets open approximately 12 inches. And I’m able to see a refrigerator to my left, and I see Mr. Payano leaning over the refrigerator pointing a gun at me. It happened very quickly.

“Just as the door was opened and I glanced, I didn’t have the time to bring my gun over. I heard one shot fired.”

As a defense, Payano claimed he did not know that the men forcing the door were police officers.

Common sense should have kicked-in here, as the location is a rough part of the city of Milwaukee—an area where street gangs have operated for years.  The officers were driving unmarked Ford Crown Victorias and Sgt. Hartert was wearing a police uniform.

But common sense is not always so common.

A Circuit Court judge shot down Payano’s claim of self-defense, although the court of appeals then overturned the lower court’s ruling.

The case then reached the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

“We conclude,” wrote Justice Prosser for the majority, “that, because the circuit court made its ruling using the appropriate legal standards under Sullivan, sufficiently explained its rationale on the record, and came to a reasonable conclusion, we must affirm its decision to admit the other acts evidence against Payano.”

Because of this ruling, prosecutors were able to obtain a conviction of Officer Lutz’s assailant.

The shooting, however, seriously damaged Mike Lutz’s arm.  He later received a duty disability. …

Micheal Lutz’s credibility and integrity have been on the line before and he has proven himself time and again. He served heroically on the Milwaukee Police Department and took a bullet in service of the community.

Chisholm could claim that Lutz was a disgruntled former employee … oh wait, he can’t:

According to a new letter obtained by RightWisconsin, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm commended former MPD officer and special prosecutor Michael Lutz for “exemplary” service to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office upon completion of Lutz’s short tenure with the DA.

Chisholm’s letter, dated July 27, 2011 commends Lutz, now identified as a whistleblower and source alleging partisanship in the DAs office, for his service as a Pro Bono Service Special Prosecutor. …

This letter from DA Chisholm contradicts some of the narrative that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provided when it outed Lutz in a Friday story. Columnist Daniel Bice wrote:

Reached Thursday, Chisholm said he was surprised that Lutz would make the allegations about the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office.

That’s because, Chisholm said, Lutz was simply an unpaid intern for five months in the county office who spent his time filling out grant applications for the community prosecution program.

At some point, the word “intern” was edited out of Bice’s column as a descriptor of Lutz, whose title was Pro Bono Public Service Special Prosecutor.

George Mitchell added, before Lutz was identified:

But the paper’s watchdog columnist Dan Bice believes he knows who Taylor’s source is.  As for the source’s credibility, Bice sent a terse and stunning email yesterday:

Wow.  This is the same paper where Meg Kissinger has reported extensively on issues involving mental health.  Now it’s ready to disparage someone with a medically recognized condition — one apparently caused by an incident in the line of duty.

According to Taylor, the source in Chisholm’s office asked for anonymity because he feared retaliation. Those fears are now being realized. Reporters visited his family home and JS staffers threatened to publish disparaging information provided by Chisholm. …

When asked to comment on the implication of his email, Bice said, “I believe if you read my email, you will see that I am explicitly agnostic about [the source's] credibility.”

Agnostic? We’ll see.

But Stuart Taylor isn’t buying it.

“I can’t comment on my source but if some journalist is sliming the credibility of a person he thinks is my source because the man is on disability, that is stunningly dishonest and disgusting,” said Taylor. “If I were the employer of such a journalist, I would fire him.”

Meanwhile, the attorney general’s race has had its own nastiness, which Charlie Sykes summarizes:

How badly is this going for Susan Happ?

(1) Faced with an ethics complaint from a sexual assault victim, Happ remains silent, hiding behind campaign staffers and surrogates, instead of addressing it herself.

(2) One of those surrogates is former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who was ousted from that job after being busted for drunk driving. (What, Anthony Weiner wasn’t available?)

(3) Happ and Lautenschlager are reduced to attacking the credibility and motives of the victim. This comes just a day after the victim said that Happ’s office had tried to shut her up.

So: To preserve the chances of Mary Burke becoming governor and Happ becoming attorney general, Democrats slime a police officer who was shot in the line of duty (I wonder how the police unions feel about that) and a sexual assault victim.

However, banana republics have better weather

Not that they care, but the persecutors in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office are giving Milwaukee a bad national name, as demonstrated by the Daily Signal:

The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.

We interrupt this blog to point out: Wisconsin is not now, nor has it ever been, a “bastion of individual freedom.” The Progressive Era brought us the income tax. Nothing free there. And banana republics have tropical weather, which this state does not.

To allow an investigation of issue advocacy based simply on allegations of collaboration between elected officials and the public would chill core political speech. The right of citizens and their membership associations to directly engage elected leaders is all the more important on politically charged questions of public policy. Such collaboration is the norm in the political arena, where there is extensive interaction between citizens groups and elected officials about proposed legislation. In fact, such coordination is vital to a functioning democracy.

Under the warped view of the democratic process exhibited by the local prosecutors involved in this investigation, public officials would be strictly prohibited from speaking to the public about important public policy issues. Advocacy groups — no matter what their political persuasion — also would have to avoid any contact or discussion of issues with government officials and each other for fear of their conduct being considered criminal.

The public’s right to engage in issue advocacy, including coordinated activity, cannot be limited in this way and is as protected at the state level as it is at the federal level. Wisconsin is failing to draw the sharp line that the FEC and the courts have drawn between regulating express advocacy that is intended to support or oppose particular candidates running for office and grass-roots advocacy on important public policy issues. As Bob Bauer, President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, recently said, we should “value, not distrust, collective political action and the strategies through which it is effected.” …

In fact, not a single decision by the U.S. Supreme Court or the 7th Circuit upholds the type of punishment of coordinated issue advocacy that Wisconsin prosecutors were pursuing. Why? Because the prosecutors were trying to punish political speech.

I hope that the civil rights lawsuit filed against these prosecutors is successful and results in a large judgment that deters this type of investigation from ever happening again. But this also should spur the Wisconsin Legislature to repeal the laws allowing such secret — and, frankly, un-American — political investigations and to get rid of campaign finance regulations that are unconstitutional and an insult to the First Amendment rights of Wisconsin citizens.



John Doe: Revenge for Act 10

Stuart Taylor writes about the John Doe investigation …

Those conservatives say that the long-running criminal investigation has unconstitutionally prevented them and their allies from participating in politics and tilted the political field to favor Democrats, whose campaign practices are almost identical to the Republicans’ but largely ignored by the prosecutors. The probe, conservatives say, has forced them to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills and harassed some of them with pre-dawn raids on their suburban homes that seized cell phones and computers of all family members, including a child’s iPad. Prosecutors imposed “gag orders” to prevent the investigation’s targets from publicly complaining.

Wisconsin Republicans, and some Democrats in Washington, contend that the Democratic district attorney is distorting campaign finance laws to criminalize ordinary politics. …

A “John Doe” is a legal proceeding under Wisconsin law that allows prosecutors, with a judge’s approval, to require complete secrecy from any one involved. This “gag order” provision, almost unique in American law, effectively disables targets or witnesses from publicly defending themselves or responding to damaging leaks.

… and reveals:

Now a longtime Chisholm subordinate reveals for the first time in this article that the district attorney may have had personal motivations for his investigation. Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis High School, a public school near Milwaukee, had been repeatedly moved to tears by Walker’s anti-union policies in 2011, according to the former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office. Chisholm said in the presence of the former prosecutor that his wife “frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved … She took it personally.”

Citing fear of retaliation, the former prosecutor declined to be identified and has not previously talked to reporters.

Chisholm added, according to that prosecutor, that “he felt that it was his personal duty to stop Walker from treating people like this.”

Chisholm was referring to Gov. Walker’s proposal – passed by the legislature in March 2011 – to require public employee unions to contribute to their retirement and health-care plans for the first time and to limit unions’ ability to bargain for non-wage benefits.

Chisholm said his wife had joined teachers union demonstrations against Walker, said the former prosecutor. The 2011 political storm over public unions was unlike any previously seen in Wisconsin. Protestors crowded the State Capitol grounds and roared in the Rotunda. Picketers appeared outside of Walker’s private home. There were threats of boycotts and even death to Walker’s supporters. Two members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court almost came to blows. Political ad spending set new records. Wisconsin was bitterly divided.

Still, Chisholm’s private displays of partisan animus stunned the former prosecutor. “I admired him [Chisholm] greatly up until this whole thing started,” the former prosecutor said. “But once this whole matter came up, it was surprising how almost hyper-partisan he became … It was amazing … to see this complete change.”

The culture in the Milwaukee district attorney’s office was stoutly Democratic, the former prosecutor said, and become more so during Gov. Walker’s battle with the unions. Chisholm “had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who were just fanatical about union activities and unionizing. And a lot of them went up and protested. They hung those blue fists on their office walls [to show solidarity with union protestors] … At the same time, if you had some opposing viewpoints that you wished to express, it was absolutely not allowed.”

When I was on Wisconsin Public Radio a few months ago and brought up Chisholm’s political views interfering with his duty, my opponent claimed Chisholm was a man of integrity and so on. My opponent appears to have been mistaken.

The irony here is that Chisholm makes $122,612 per year as district attorney. His wife made, in the 2012–13 school year, $52,384. Their own family income is more than three times this state’s median family income, and yet he feels free to harass those of more conservative views, and she is another union thug.

At minimum, Chisholm has two conflicts of interest, and every member of his staff has one major conflict of interest. Their pay was reduced by Act 10, which was proposed and signed into law by Walker. Chisholm’s wife’s pay was also reduced by Act 10. They have a direct stake in Walker’s actions, therefore by the code of lawyers under no circumstances should they be investigating Walker.

Wisconsin Reporter adds:

Chisholm and two of his assistant DAs, Bruce Landgraf and David Robles, are defendants in a civil rights lawsuit filed in February by targets of the probe. The conservatives allege the Milwaukee County prosecutors deprived them of their First Amendment rights of speech and association.

The complaint, alleging Chisholm and his office were driven by their political bias against Walker and his controversial collective-bargaining reforms, underlines some partisan perception problems for Chisholm and may support some of the contentions of the former prosecutor:

  • During the 2011-2012 campaign to recall Walker, at least 43 (and possibly as many as 70) employees within Chisholm’s office signed the recall petition, including at least one deputy district attorney, 19 assistant district attorneys and members of the District Public Integrity Unit. The DA’s office is assisted directly by five deputy DAs and 125 assistant DAs, according to the agency’s website.
  • Altogether, as of April 2012, employees in Chisholm’s office had donated to Democratic over Republican candidates by roughly a 4-to-1 ratio.
  • Chisholm, a Democrat, has been supported by labor unions in previous campaigns, including in the most recent race to hold his DA position, during which the received support from, among others, the AFL-CIO, the complaint notes. He also is a donor to Democratic Party candidates and, as of April 2012, had given $2,200 exclusively to Democratic and liberal candidates.

“The revelation by a former Wisconsin prosecutor that the John Doe proceedings against Governor Scott Walker may have been motivated by pro-union political considerations is chilling,” said William A. Jacobson, publisher of Legal Insurrection and Cornell Law School professor, in a statement.

“To date, no one has been able to explain why District Attorney John Chisholm has gone to the lengths he has gone to try to find criminal conduct that could taint Governor Walker. If this new information is accurate, now we know the motivation, and there needs to be an investigation of the investigators.”

There also needs to be an investigation of the priorities of the Milwaukee County DA’s office. Sierra Guyton died because she got in the way of a shootout between one person reportedly arrested 15 times before he turned 18, and another recently released from prison for reckless homicide. Had Chisholm’s DAs done their jobs better, those two would have not been out on the streets. Milwaukee has the worst crime problems in the state, and Chisholm’s failure to use state laws to put the bad guys away are making crime worse. Chisholm apparently believes persecuting non-Democrats is more important than prosecuting criminals.

As I’ve written here before, any Republican or conservative who has the misfortune of becoming a defendant in Milwaukee County is, in the eyes of the Milwaukee County DA’s office, automatically guilty. It’s a good thing Wisconsin doesn’t have the death penalty.



Burkean questions

The state news media, as enamored with Mary Burke as the national news media is with Barack Obama, has failed to do actual reporting about Burke’s positions on issues.

Collin Roth has 10 questions the rest of the media isn’t asking:

1.) Do you support the Affordable Care Act? Is there anything you would change? Do you support the single payer option?

2.) Do you support the new EPA regulations recently approved by the Obama administration? Do you support a cap and trade policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions?

3.) What is your position on the Kenosha Casino? How would you deal with the Potawatomi’s power play?

4.) Would you have supported Act 10? And if not, how would you have made up for the $3.6 billion budget hole?

5.) If we were to restore collective bargaining as you propose, how would you make up the nearly $3 billion in savings at the local level attributed to Act 10?

6.) Can you name a school district or local government hurt by Act 10?

7.) Do you support Gov. Walker’s four year tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin system?

8.) You say property taxes are too high but the caps are “strangling communities,” what is your solution to keeping property taxes down?

9.) Do you support public dollars for a new Bucks arena?

10.) How can you support a $10.10 minimum wage in Wisconsin when your company Trek moved manufacturing jobs to China in order to pay less than $5.00 per hour? Is that not hypocrisy? Wouldn’t your position of a higher minimum wage incentivize more companies to do what Trek did?

The questions to 1, 2 and 9 certainly are yes. Burke would punt on 3, 5, 7 (with the inner thought “gee, I wish I had thought of that”) and 10. Burke’s answer to 6 would be “yes, they are hurting school districts, because school districts no longer have as much money as they want to do whatever they want.” The answer to the first part of 4 would be no, and the answer to the second part of 4, 5 and 8 would be “raise taxes.”

A Facebook Friend found the essence of Burke’s campaign:

My question comes from this Washington Free Beacon characterization of a story the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel apparently reported grudgingly:

Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor Mary Burke took a two-year break from her career for a “snowboarding sabbatical” and a decade later expressed doubts that she ever wanted to have a full-time job again.

Burke’s career has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that her résumé includes a two-year gap between positions at Trek Bicycle Corporation, which was founded by her father.

After working in Europe for Trek overseeing operations in multiple countries, Burke decided she “needed some time off,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Explanations of what Burke was actually doing from July 1993 to September 1995 vary, largely because Burke’s explanations have varied.

Burke at one point said that, feeling burnt out from her job, she and a group of friends went off to a popular Argentinian mountain resort to snowboard for three months. At another point she said that her time spent in Argentina was because she was “going out with this guy.”

Her actual “snowboarding sabbatical” lasted two months in Argentina, though it remains unclear who she was with.

She then headed to the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, where she says she spent her time “traveling and relaxing” and also teaching snowboarding part time for a couple of months.

She even considered going back to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder but ultimately decided not to, and went back to Trek, putting an end to the two year period of snowboarding, traveling, and relaxing. …

Burke was considered in 2004 after her second stint with Trek to be part of Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s cabinet, but she expressed doubt that she would want a full-time job.

“I do not know at this point whether I will want to re-enter the full-time work force,” wrote Burke in a December 2004 email. “ I would appreciate being kept in mind but I don’t want anyone wasting their time.”

Burke was appointed secretary of commerce by Doyle and accepted the position. She resigned in 2007 citing her desire to “spend more time” on “other interests.”

How can Burke claim to know what working families deal with in this state? She is in a family that apparently allows her to enter and leave the family business whenever she wants. (If Burke were a Republican, Democrats would tear her and Trek Bicycle to shreds. To quote her favorite president, she, and they, didn’t build that.)

Moreover, Burke has no children. She’s never had to deal with the effects of long-term unemployment in the Obama economy. She’s never had sick children. She’s never had children in bad schools. (Even though she’s on the Madison school board, in a school district with an increasing number of bad schools.) She’s never had to worry about the safety of her children in an unsafe neighborhood. She’s never had to try to juggle kids’ activities and her own work. Only parents really know what parenting is like.

For that matter, how can Burke claim to know what small businesses deal with in this state? (Yes, that’s now two questions.) As I’ve pointed out before, Trek sells high-end bicycles for serious cyclists. Most Wisconsin families don’t own Trek bikes because they can’t afford bikes with four-digit price tags given all their other financial commitments. And I wonder how she thinks the bike shops that sell Treks will do with a mandated 40-percent increase in wage expenses (her minimum-wage increase proposal) without corresponding added business.

I’ve written here that Republicans have made a mistake in attacking Trek Bicycle. But if Burke were a Republican, the Democrats would be using all the class warfare rhetoric in their How-to-Attack-the-1-Percenters manuals against both Burke and her family’s business. They’d probably call the campaign “Occupy Burke.”



On structural deficits

It’s helpful when discussing state finances to be able to share the observations of a Certified Public Accountant — in today’s case Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R–Brookfield), who has six observations:

1.) This budget which extends through June 30, 2015 is still projected to end with a healthy cash balance.  The rainy day fund is at an all time high.  The “structural deficit” is a state government concept and some states do not even calculate, or calculate using different methods.  In this state, LFB assume there are no growths in revenues or expenditures all the way through June 30, 2017.

Revenues tend to grow, and Walker’s team has proven they can manage the expense side of the budget.  Many folks (and even legislators) do not understand that we do not tell the Governor (executive branch) what they have to spend – we tell them the maximum they can spend.  This means the Governor’s team can find cost savings, and simply spend less than the maximum amounts the legislature stipulated. There are substantial areas expenses can be cut with a $30 Billion plus annual budget.  If you look at the audited state financial statements – the general fund had less spending in 2012 than 2011, and the 2013 general funding spending was lower than 2012 and 2011 even though the legislative budget was an increase in GPR spending.

2.)  The structural deficit is projecting revenue all the way to June 30, 2017 – a lot will happen between now and then – including the passage of a new budget.  No company would forecast a budget 3 years out and not assume any changes in revenues or expenses.

3.)  Some of the confusion, and forward projections, are affected by the fact we are returning a portion of the surplus to the taxpayers who put it there in the first place.  In the private sector, we would call this a return of equity – not an expense or lost revenue!  For example, if GE is predicting a year with zero net income, but still pays out $1 billion in dividends because they have excessive cash, their net income does not become a net loss of $1 billion, their income remains flat.  In Madison, the stakeholders do not view it that way, and they call a return of taxpayer dividends an expense. This is an important distinction in the private sector, but not understood in government because it is not in their best interest.

4.)  Wisconsin’s businesses and families budgets are what really matters.  Since we cut taxes, and the Governor adjusted the withholding tables, budgeting has become less burdensome for families and business.  Republicans made a conscious decision to make budgeting easier at the dinner table and main street – that is what really matters.  We all know the left, assisted by the media, wants to argue against tax cuts because they want to make it easier to keep your cash in Madison so they can spend it on growing government.

5.) The revenue projections going forward are not Wisconsin specific, they are instead based on national economic trends.  There is no doubt that lack of leadership in the White House has created domestic and international concerns which have national economic impacts.

6.)  Media bias and ignorance is driving the confusion.  I have never seen a Wisconsin paper headline the federal deficit despite Sen. Ron Johnson’s best efforts.  Those deficits are real.  Wisconsin is in good shape.  54% of voters think Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, compared to 25% of national voters who think the US is headed in the right direction.

This contrasts to the fiscal approach of the Doyle administration, which involved 2009-11 budget deficits of nine digits, structural deficits more than twice this one, a huge GAAP deficit (which is being reduced, but is still too large, “too large” being any number greater than 1), using federal stimulus funds, raiding of the Patients’ Compensation and transportation funds (the former of which was smacked down by the courts), denial that anything was wrong with state finances, and calls to raise taxes.

About which, Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Waukesha) observes:

“These projections by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau are not perfect calculations and should be treated as a learning opportunity.  It is time for Wisconsin residents to remember where we as a state have been in the past.

“I am surprised that Senators Shilling, Hansen, Lassa, Lehman, Miller, and Taylor; all of whom served on the 2009-10 Joint Finance Committee that kicked the fiscal can down the road, are now decrying these projected numbers as signs of impending doom.  It’s unfortunate that these legislators have forgotten that our charge is to continually analyze the state’s fiscal condition and make adjustments accordingly to our state’s expenses or revenues.

“I find it disingenuous for the same Democrats who drove our state into a truly staggering $3.6 billion deficit, and felt the only way to recover was by instituting the largest tax increase in our state’s history, are now unjustly portraying the work that Republicans have done to reduce the tax burden on all Wisconsinites.

“Rather than help work towards solutions to fix the deficit they created, Senate Democrats ran to Illinois and Assembly Democrats put on Orange Shirts and shook their fists. Now they are clamoring for answers when they have done nothing to find solutions and are using any “bad news” to portray a Wisconsin decline.

“Republicans on the other hand have passed two consecutive balanced budgets and have given the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin tax cuts and a sense of optimism.  We are a long way from experiencing a full economic recovery; it would be nice to get some help from the other side instead of having them work against Wisconsin’s successes.

The Walker administration has not been perfect on fiscal matters, but its approach is certainly better than what Doyle did or Mary Burke would do as governor. Democrats, as you know, believe all your money belongs to government.

To that end. the aforementioned Shilling — Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D–La Crosse) — issued a news release yesterday claiming the way to fix Walker’s alleged fiscal crisis was to increase the minimum wage (that is, increase unemployment by 40 percent) and to take the federal Medicaid money, because taking money from the unit of government $16 TRILLION in debt and therefore that likely to renege on its funding obligations is good fiscal policy.

As it is, for those who believe in smaller government (as in something fewer than our 3,120 units of government), fiscal shortfalls are not the worst thing. A lack of money allows the adults in the room to say no. It’s also helpful to remember that, back in the Act 10 debate, we learned that then a state employee cost Wisconsin taxpayers $79,000 a year. And state legislators make nearly $50,000 a year, which is nearly $50,000 a year too much. The worse thing, in fact, is when more money comes in than estimated. That’s when every fiscal want becomes a full-blown crisis demanding more money, and the taxpayer gets stuck with the expanding bill. (That is a disease that infects Democrats and Republicans, since they are part of the same party, the Incumbent Party.)

The Republican Party isn’t perfect on fiscal matters either. Except for part of 2012 between spasms of Recallarama, the GOP has controlled both houses of the Legislature, but has failed to move ahead on permanent, as in constitutional, limits on state and local government spending. Readers know that had government spending been limited to the inflation rate plus population growth, government in Wisconsin would be half the size it is now.

Constitutional amendments require passage of consecutive sessions of the Legislature before statewide vote. Had the 2011-12 and 2013-14 Legislatures done their job and approved that referendum, voters could be choosing permanent (or as permanent as is possible in politics) fiscal responsibility soon. That would mean elections would matter less, and legislators would be severely limited in wasting your hard-earned tax dollars.


The Journal explains what Wisconsin dailies should, but aren’t

Right Wisconsin passes on the Wall Street Journal editorial that proves that correctly reasoned opinions cannot be found in any Wisconsin daily newspaper’s unsigned opinions:

Under campaign-finance law, express advocacy is speech that explicitly supports the election or defeat of a candidate for political office. Ads by independent groups are generally identified as express advocacy when they use words like “vote for” or “cast your ballot for.” Those ads count toward a group’s percentage of political activities for the purposes of tax exemption and are considered to have a “political purpose” under the law.

Issue advocacy encompasses the rest of the universe of independent groups’ speech on policy. Issue ads by an environmental group might say, “Our power plants are polluting, call your Senator and tell her it’s important to protect our planet.” Another issue ad might say, “The drug war is incarcerating too many people, tell our Governor to veto this bill.” While issue ads frequently share the priorities of a politician, they focus on a policy issue, not on the election or defeat of a candidate.
This distinction is critical because while express advocacy is considered speech that can be regulated, issue advocacy is speech that has the highest level of constitutional protection. The right of citizens to petition their government and to rally friends and neighbors to a cause is at the heart of what the First Amendment is intended to protect.

Which brings us to “coordination.”

Under the law, coordination between a political campaign and an independent group is illegal only if it is the functional equivalent of a monetary contribution to the campaign. Imagine a candidate who calls an independent group and says, “hey, we’ve made an ad we’d like to run in the Milwaukee suburbs, but we’re a little short on money. Can you do it?” That arrangement amounts to a contribution to a candidate, raising the risk of quid pro quo corruption, the standard the Supreme Court has said must be met for regulating political speech.

Short of that, neither collaboration among independent groups nor communication between independent groups and a political campaign is illegal. On the contrary, it is speech protected by the First Amendment.

All of this explains why the John Doe investigation by Democratic Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm has been rejected in court: His conservative targets never engaged in express advocacy. As John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson wrote in his opinion quashing subpoenas, “The only clearly defined political purpose is one that requires express advocacy” and “the state is not claiming that any of the organizations expressly advocated” so the subpoenas “fail probable cause.”

Wisconsin prosecutors claim Mr. Walker was “coordinating” fundraising with the Wisconsin Club for Growth and thus the group’s activities qualify as in-kind contributions to the Walker campaign. But as Judge Peterson explained, “Before there is coordination, there must be political purposes; without political purposes coordination is not a crime.” …

The real in-kind campaign contribution here has been from prosecutors to Mr. Walker’s Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Their efforts have hobbled fund-raising at many of the most effective conservative independent groups and forced them to spend hundreds of thousands on lawyers to defend their rights in court. Ms. Burke has made the probe part of her campaign and it has helped her get close in the polls.

The prosecution brings to mind the abuses against the late Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in office only weeks before an election because prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence. In Wisconsin the prosecution has used a secret probe and selective leaks to make legal fund-raising appear illegal.

The Journal adds this slam upon the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice, who never met a conservative he could treat fairly:

In a recent online chat, a reader asked Daniel Bice, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s go-to reporter for prosecutors, why his articles failed to explain the difference between “express advocacy” and “issue advocacy”—a crucial distinction in the law on coordination between political campaigns and outside groups.
“The reason we don’t go into great detail on express advocacy is that you can’t discuss it without going into great detail. As you just did,” Mr. Bice responded. So Mr. Bice admits that he leaves out crucial information because it’s all so very complicated. We’re sorry if campaign law has become so complex that the relevant details can’t fit in a newspaper article, but allow us to give it a try.