Claiming the current Republican administration has committed ethics violations, Democratic legislators introduced a package of bills Thursday, prompting their Republican counterparts to accuse them of hypocrisy.
The introduced bills deal with a wide range of issues such as placing caps on fundraising during recall campaigns, requiring judges to recuse themselves from cases if the attorneys involved ever represented judges and increasing government transparency, according to a statement released by the Office of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.
The contents of the package, which according to the statement are aimed at reversing the worst abuses of Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans, have all been introduced previously as separate bills and are now grouped together as they all pertain to the idea of ethics, Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, said.
Berceau, who has worked in Wisconsin Legislature for 13 years and served in the minority party for 11, said the covertness of the Walker administration was unparalleled by any other administration.
“I have been working with Republicans for a long time, and nothing compares to what the Walker administration has done,” Berceau said. “I have never seen anything like the secrecy that this administration has been engaged in.”
In a weekly radio address, Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, spoke to the some of the Walker administration’s specific actions, which the Democratic Party feels threatens the government’s once transparent reputation and is behind the loss of the public’s faith and trust in Legislature.
“Again and again, they have chosen to reward special interests and big corporate donors over working families across our state,” Pasch said.
However, as unprecedented as Berceau finds the Walker administrations actions, Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, finds the proposed Ethics Package to be hypocritical and a “usual” from the Democratic lawmakers.
According to Mikalsen, the package is valueless and is nothing more than an attempt to paint the Republicans as “evil.” He said the Democrats have repeatedly attempted to portray the Legislature as being broken, even though it is not.
Mikalsen called the Democratic proposals hypocritical in light of the election of Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who he accused of being bought out by special interests.
He said the Democratic Party did not question the origin of Bradley’s fundraising.
“The Democratic Party did not have an issue with her election being bought out.” Mikelson said. “Some of the rules in question were originally put in place by Democrats, and these are all things the democrats could have done when they had the majority but didn’t.”
Despite, Mikalsen’s examples, Berceau denied all accusations of hypocrisy. She said the Republicans keep pointing fingers and saying that the Democrats do it too, even though they do not.
Berceau said she is aware of Republican supporters of this package.
“There are Republicans that have also seen the wrongs in the ways of this administration,” Berceau said. “But I think that the Republicans are very disciplined, and if someone tells them to vote ‘no,’ then they will because it will look bad otherwise.”