Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


GOP Assembly will pretend to pass ethics reform

The Wisconsin State Assembly has sunk ethics reform for now. The Republicans marched in lockstep against it with a the exception of five who joined the entire Democratic caucus in voting for the bill.

As drafted, the bill would have merged the State Ethics Board with the State Election Commission, and given the new body additional oversight into investigating political corruption.

Never fear though. The Republicans already have a backup plan to protect themselves in the November election. The Wisconsin State Journal reported last Friday that Assembly Majority Leader Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) would introduce a few measures to make it look like they're actually doing something in lieu of serious ethics reform.

Those include measures to prohibit the state from picking up the cost of state employees' health insurance premiums if they go on leave to work on political campaigns, and writing into state law existing prohibitions in Senate and Assembly rules against state employees engaging in campaign activity on state time or with state resources.

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said lawmakers "ought to be laughed out of the building if they think this constitutes reform.

"These are just tiny little baby steps I think people probably assume had already been enacted," he said.


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