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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Ethics accusations fly in race to Nov. 7

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]CollegeDems_JS[/media-credit]U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., fought a State Elections Board ruling he return $468,000 in campaign money in court Thursday, the same day questions about lobbying from Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign involving the SEB ruling surfaced.

Dane County Judge Richard Niess heard from Green's attorneys and attorneys from the Wisconsin Department of Justice before deciding he would issue a written ruling Monday. The ruling will decide whether to comply with the Green campaign's call for a temporary injunction to stop enforcement of the SEB's order.

On Aug. 30, the SEB decided in a 5-2 vote to order Green to rid his campaign of $467,844 in political action committee money he transferred from his federal account to his state account. The order cited the money was from PACs not registered in Wisconsin and the amount of money exceeded the $450,000 limit for PAC contributions.


Luke Punzenberger, spokesperson for Green's campaign, said the campaign has not yet decided on a plan of action.

"We will have to wait until Monday to see the decision," he said.

Also meeting at the courthouse were the College Democrats of Madison. The group organized a rally in opposition to Green's decision to keep the allegedly illegal money, marching from Library Mall to the Dane County Courthouse.

"One of our biggest goals is to raise the level of public awareness on campus about Mark Green's illegal money," Eli Lewien, chair of College Democrats of Madison, said. "We are not going to be at everything on campus, but when things like this come up, we want to let people know what we think."

Lewien added the group, along with chanting slogans and waving signs, called on people going in and out of the courthouse to care about the issue of Green's money and demanding that he give it back.

According to Anne Lupardus, deputy press secretary for Doyle's campaign, agreed with the College Democrats and added there might be more illegal money than previously reported.

"The DOJ filed a brief to the judge indicating there is even more than the $470,000 in dispute, claiming almost all of the $1.3 million transferred was illegal," she said.

In the legal brief, the DOJ attorneys representing the SEB said of the $1.3 million Green transferred, he should have been allowed to transfer only $43,128, which is the maximum Wisconsin law allows any campaign committee to give a candidate for governor.

Though Green campaign attorney Don Millis said in a previous interview that the campaign complied with all the logistics of past rulings, the DOJ attorneys said in the brief that "past actions of the board do not have precedential value — they are not binding on future boards."

Doyle faces ethics accusations

Doyle's campaign is also facing ethical questions involving the SEB and its ruling on Green's money.

Michael S. Maistelman, an attorney for Doyle's campaign, repeatedly lobbied three Democratic SEB members before the vote that ordered Green to divest the disputed money. According to e-mails acquired under Wisconsin open records law, Maistelman urged Carl Holborn and Kerry Dwyer to vote to make Green defend his "dirty money." Robert Kasieta was also contacted by Maistelman.

Of the nine SEB members, four are Democratic appointees, three are Republican appointees, one is a bipartisan appointee and one is a Libertarian appointee. The Libertarian sided with the four Democrats that Green divest, while two Republicans voted with Green. One Republican abstained from voting and the bipartisan member was not present.

State Sen. Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, was unavailable Thursday, but released a statement saying he has asked for criminal and ethics investigations in the communications between Maistelman and the SEB members.

"Clearly, Gov. Doyle, through his attorney, attempted to influence this partisan decision by the Elections Board," Ellis said. "That smells like a state official — the governor — using a state agency — the Elections Board — to gain an unfair political advantage."

Yet Kyle Richmond, public information officer for the SEB, said any public board member of government can be lobbied.

"Nothing in state law prohibits this," he said. "It's just like calling a state senator or the governor's office."

Richmond added SEB members get lobbied on issues all the time for items on their agenda, including from groups like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and voting equipment companies.

Though Green's campaign has attacked Doyle for influencing the members of the SEB, Doyle's campaign has called the lobbying "perfectly appropriate."

"[The decision to hire a lobbying attorney] is a day-to-day decision made by the campaign manager, so the governor is not involved," Lupardus said.

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