Friday, July 19, 2013

Great moments in Fitzwalkerstani corruption, continued

Not that we already didn't know that the Walker Administration is quite responsive to the desires of its donors, but we had another great example of it be exposed this week.

The AP's Scott Bauer had an excellent article on Thursday revealing failed GOP Senate candidate, mega-donor and Madison developer Terrence Wall called the Walker Administration with a business proposition.
Terrence Wall offered his cellphone number in the letter, urging that the “appropriate person” call him to discuss possible deals for properties including the state crime lab, records obtained by The Associated Press show. Wall also offered his support for the change in the bidding process, an idea that originated with Walker.

Wall sent the letter on June 10. The Republican-controlled Legislature agreed 11 days later to allow no-bid sales of state properties over the objection of Democrats, who argued that it opened the door for political cronies to be cut special deals.
This isn't T.Wall's first run-in with sketchiness. His lame attempt to run for Senate in 2010 was put down for good soon after One Wisconsin Now revealed first that Wall dodged $34,000 in property taxes by claiming development land he bought in Middleton was being used for "agriculture", and later showed that Wall paid zero state income taxes for 9 out of 10 years between 1999 and 2008, despite accumulating tens of millions in assets in that time.

So to believe T.Wall and Scott Walker would be involved in behind-the-scenes deal-making to put big money into their pockets at taxpayer expense isn't exactly far-fetched. The same apparently goes for Joint Finance Co-Chair John Nygren.
But Rep. John Nygren, co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, said lawmakers would seriously consider any proposal.

“If he stepped up and made an offer we couldn’t refuse, we’d have to take a look,” Nygren said of Wall’s proposal.

Campaign finance records maintained by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign show that Wall has donated $77,220 since 1993 to mostly Republican candidates, including $8,854 to Walker between 2005 and 2012.
Wall's donation history sure puts a new spin on the concept of "Offer you can't refuse," eh? Then again, these guys do kinda operate like the mob (with less class).

But that's not the only pay-for-play story that hit the news in the last couple of days. Bill Lueders was out today telling us that the Walker Administration has ended its no-bid contract with Michael, Best and Friedrich after giving MBF nearly $1 million to help the Administration defend Act 10 from lawsuits.
Michael Best was originally hired by Walker on Feb. 7, 2011, four days before he announced plans to impose sweeping changes to the collective bargaining rights of public employees. The original contract was for $50,000, and set a rate of reimbursement of up to $300 per hour.

The contract has since been amended several times to increase its duration and maximum payment amount. Prior to the recent amendment, the last revision was in March 2012, when the amount was raised to $850,000. The per hour fee has not changed.

Michael Best has long been state Republicans’ go-to law firm for outside representation. The firm has represented Republican lawmakers on legislative redistricting (including housing GOP staff at its Madison offices to try to get around open records laws while doing redistricting work) and has received $368,879 for legal services from Walker’s campaign, state records show.

Walker’s contract for representation over collective bargaining challenges was signed by Michael Best attorney Raymond Taffora, formerly chief legal counsel for Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. Taffora worked for the state Department of Justice until January 2011, shortly before the first contract.
Ah yes, Ray Taffora, who I mentioned nearly 2 years ago after it was revealed he donated $4,000 to Attorney General JB Van Hollen's campaign, then left to go to MBF and land the Act 10 contract because the DOJ allegedly lacked the manpower and expertise to fight for Act 10 on its own. It's a classic example of "you pay me, and I'll pay you back" that has been a hallmark of the way this administration has operated from day 1.

And oh yeah, let's also point out that before he left the DOJ Taffora talked with Milwaukee County D-A John Chisholm in November 2010 about the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's doings in Milwaukee County. Sure makes you wonder what ol' Ray talked about with his new client Scott Walker two months later, doesn't it?

It brings to mind this great speech from the sorely missed George Carlin on how corporate interests like T.Wall Enterprises and Michael Best and Friedrich get great insider deals at the expense of the rest of us.

"It's a big club, and we ain't in it."

P.S. Poster/Twitterer Gnarlytrombone reminds me that Taffora was also the guy who asked the Governor's office to have the state sue Madison-Kipp Corporation as a way to head off a federal lawsuit that could potential make Kipp liable for more damages as a result of contaminating the ground water of homes on the east side of Madison. Coincidentally, Kipp just signed an agreement this week to pay $7.2 million to homeowners due to their polluting.

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