A liberal group filed a formal complaint with state officials after a former Wisconsin legislator was offered a free fishing trip from a controversial sportsmen group.
One Wisconsin Now is requesting the Government Accountability Board conduct an investigation of possible state ethics violations after United Sportsmen, a group set to receive a $500,000 grant which was later rescinded, offered a two-day Lake Michigan fishing trip to former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, who helped author the grant.
The $500,000 grant to United Sportsmen was intended to support training in outdoor activities and promote outdoor recreation statewide, but was rescinded after it was revealed Suder helped write the grant that was largely written in favor of the group.
The GAB is not legally allowed to comment on formal complaints.
“Wisconsin’s state ethics laws are crystal clear, no one may offer, and no legislator may accept, anything of value to as an inducement or as a reward for their actions,” Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now executive director, said in a statement. “But throughout this whole sordid affair, Gov. [Scott] Walker and the legislators behind this sleazy deal were willing to throw ethics overboard to help their cronies catch a multi-million dollar taxpayer funded grant.”
Reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Suder showed receipts for the trip, which he paid for himself despite the offer.
Under current law, United Sportsmen cannot give anything to a legislator because the group is a lobbying organization.
Mike Browne, One Wisconsin Now spokesperson, said regardless of whether Suder paid for the trip or not, an investigation should be conducted.
Browne added it is not clear to the organization whether Suder paid completely for the trip or not.
“This whole sleazy deal just got even sleazier,” Browne said. “[The grant] got inserted in the budget to benefit them and only them.”
The group is also connected politically to the National Rifle Association and conservative lobbying group, Americans for Progress, and the group also endorsed Walker in 2010.
Suder now serves at the Public Service Commission after being appointed by Walker in late August.
Calls to Suder were not returned.
More information on the Journal Sentinel’s investigation can be found at: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/liberal-group-files-ethics-complaint-against-suder-over-fishing-trip-b99110252z1-225899131.html
A copy of the press release and formal complaint from One Wisconsin Now can be found at: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/press/united-sportsmen-official-offered-free-two-day-fishing-excursion-to-author-of-sweetheart-deal.html