Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Caucus scandal tarnishes Wisconsin politics

Evidence of illegal campaign activity surrounding several legislators in Wisconsin is being collected, but is not yet public information.

The so-called “caucus scandal” investigation began last June.

Political activists agree the outcome of the caucus scandal investigation is important to Wisconsin citizens and the evidence needs to be released.

“People need to know who is being indicted and who is not, or this will be a big mess,” Corey Scholtka, founder and editor of said.

Scholtka founded the website based on his own activism and is committed to providing information about the scandals on the site.

“The caucus scandal is an important issue that students need to be aware of because of the major ethical problems involved. We need to know what is going on at the Capitol and who is campaigning on state time,” said Paul Temple, a junior majoring in political science.

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard and Milwaukee County D.A. Michael McCann are collaborating in the secret “John Doe” investigations surrounding three legislators.

“Michael McCann and I are currently working together, with support from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, on overlapped witnesses that are useful on both sides of the case,” Blanchard said.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, Assembly Majority Leader Scott Jenson, R-Waukesha, and Rep. Steve Foti, R-Oconomowoc, are just few of those under question. Senator Brian Burke, D-Milwaukee, has already been charged with 18 felony counts for using state money for his campaign.

Blanchard and McCann are examining whether lawmakers used state money for campaigning purposes or traded votes for campaign contributions.

Officials say there is a possibility violations have been made which affected the 2002 election.

Attorneys from Common Cause of Wisconsin are in the process of suing the lawmakers.

“Wisconsin state law says that you cannot reimburse a legislator who is under investigation, but legislative leadership authorized the reimbursement of $700,000,” said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause of Wisconsin.

Common Cause’s lawsuit is pending.

Last Wednesday, D.A. Brian Blanchard asked for a ruling to consider recent allegations against his campaign and to determine whether he is qualified to continue the “John Doe” investigation.

Blanchard received new information about his 2000 district attorney election campaign that has brought him under suspicion.

Blanchard claims he was unaware of some of the allegations and did not know his campaign was using any lists generated by the caucuses.

The Dane County Circuit Court has appointed McCann to investigate Blanchard’s affidavit. The Court also announced that a hearing would be held to discuss the information McCann finds and the possible legal implications of the information.

“What if Blanchard is found unable to continue the investigation? Will citizens look the other way?” Scholtka asked.

When the State Ethics Board made a deal with legislators to drop their investigation of illegal campaign activity if caucus offices were banned, Scholtka said the citizens looked away.

The Ethics Board’s mission is to promote confidence in state government and to enforce the state’s ethics code, but records confirm that the Ethics Board did not investigate.

The scandals in Wisconsin are catching the attention of big newspapers around the country, like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and tarnishing Wisconsin’s “clean” political reputation, experts said.

“Things don’t look good in Madison,” Heck said.

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