Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'Selective prosecution' in Wisconsin?

Interesting development in scandal-hungry Wisconsin:

Assembly Democrats had their aides campaign on state time before the 1998 and 2000 elections - the same conduct that three Republican leaders were charged with, according to a motion filed today by the attorney for state Rep. Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield).
Two of those three Republicans have been convicted, and Jensen is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 21.
The motion includes summaries of interviews in late 2001 by Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and state investigators with four former Assembly Democratic staff members. Those aides told investigators of extensive on-the-job campaigning and fund raising that, at times, left no time for them to work on public policy issues.
Interviews with those former Assembly Democratic staff members - including Rich Judge, now Gov. Jim Doyle’s campaign manager — show that Jensen and a former Republican Assembly staff aide, Sherry L. Schultz, are the victim of “selective prosecution” by Blanchard, said Jensen’s lawyer, Stephen Meyer, who wants a hearing on the new information before a Dane County judge. ...

Jensen’s motion states that former Assembly Democratic Leader Shirley Krug of Milwaukee asked lobbyists for campaign donations in her Capitol office. That included donations to a National Democratic Party group in Washington, D.C., which returned some of the money to be used on Democratic campaigns in Wisconsin.

This highlights the basic problem with Nancy Pelosi's plans to campaign against a GOP "culture of corruption" -- any ethical abuse Republicans are guilty of, Democrats are also going to be guilty of, and usually much worse. As we show in DONKEY CONS, over the long run, Democrats have more political scandals than Republicans. This has been true for more than 200 years, and if Democratic Party leaders succeed in making corruption a major issue, ultimately the issue of corruption will bring down more Democrats than Republicans. Even if the Democrats get some advantage from this issue in November, that advantage will prove short-lived.

In the foreword to his history of Tammany Hall -- the New York City organization which Aaron Burr turned into a major Democratic Party influence -- Gustavus Myers wrote in 1901:

The records show that Tammany was thus, from the beginning, an evil force in politics. Its characteristics were formed by its first great leader, Aaron Burr, and his chief lieutenant, Matthew L. Davis; and whatever is distinctive of Tammany methods and policies in 1900 is, for the most part, but the development of features initiated by these two men one hundred years ago.

A century later, the old-style machine politics of Tammany have disappeared, but the Democratic Party -- of which Burr was an important co-founder -- retains those "characteristics" which Burr bequeathed to it, as if scandal were encoded in the party's DNA.

This is as true in Wisconsin as anywhere else. The gubernatorial election has turned into a round-robin of "scandal" finger-pointing:

• Two Republican candidates say campaign cash has influenced decisions made by appointees of first-term Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, and that the No. 2 official at the state Transportation Department improperly - if not illegally - muscled road builders and agency vendors into giving to the governor's campaign by personally inviting them to a September fund-raiser.
• Doyle's campaign and Republican candidate Scott Walker criticized the other GOP hopeful, U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay, for $30,000 that Green got directly or indirectly since 1998 from groups controlled by indicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Walker says that if he were in Green's shoes, he would return the money.
• As Democrats see it, the problems of Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, include his ties to Nicholas Hurtgen, the indicted former Chicago-area bond broker and a former senior aide to four-term Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. In January 2003, when Hurtgen's company was seeking Milwaukee County bond business, he hosted a fund-raising event for Walker.

Democrats imagine that voters will just take Nancy Pelosi's word that only Republicans are part of a "culture of corruption" in Washington. But what about the "culture of corruption" in Madison? What about Milwaukee - where Democratic Party vandals walked away scot-free from their criminal efforts to influence the 2004 election? Turning beyond Wisconsin, what about Democratic Party scandals in New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta?

Nancy Pelosi -- who took $3,000 in campaign contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, by the way -- thinks voters are so stupid they will believe Democrats in D.C. are pure as the driven snow, and not like those local Democrats who're as crooked as snakes. Nor, Pelosi imagines, will voters wonder why the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan thought a California Democrat's re-election to Congress was worth $2,000 to them.

Hey, Nancy: You go, girl!