Sunday, October 21, 2012

This week in GOP corruption Part 4- Michael, Best & Friedrich

Two stories in the last week illustrated the cronyism that has benefitted Wisconsin law firm Michael, Best & Friedrich (who will be called MBF the rest of this post). Both show the incestuous nature of MBF and the Wisconsin Republican Party.

The first is the revelation that MBF continues to obstruct on the release of emails related to the redistricting Wisconsin went through last year. It turns out there were 34 emails that MBF hid from groups suing the Wisconsin GOP on redistricting.
The report, filed this week as required by a panel of three federal judges, once again reveals that lawyers with Michael Best & Friedrich weren't forthcoming in providing subpoenaed documents...The judges previously charged the law firm some $17,500 for filing frivolous motions to try to block the release of other records.

A related investigation on why the emails weren't released earlier is ongoing, and the plaintiffs in the case said they may seek sanctions against Michael Best & Friedrich. They're also calling for a more detailed review of the law firm's computers, as well as those used by consultants and legislative employees.

"We still think there are significant resources out there that haven't been checked," attorney Doug Poland said. "There is information that remains to be revealed."

The suppressed emails cover the methods Republicans used last year to draw new legislative and congressional maps that will give their party an edge for the next decade.
Now how did MBF get to be the Wisconsin GOP's pet law firm? It always helps to have good connections. The Walker Administration has hired lawyers at firms with direct connections, (such as Ray Taffora, who left the DOJ to sign MBF's contract to do work on Act 10), and along with the Troupis Law Firm MBF has received no-bid legal contracts from Walker and WisGOP that have brought in well over $1 million in taxpayer dollars over the last 21 months.

This week's revelation wasn't the first time MBF hid information on redistricting over the last year. MBF and WisGOP made legislators swear to screcy on the redistricting discussions and even had top aides for both Fitzgeralds work out of the MBF offices in Madison to try to avoid Open Records Laws. Then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald concealed the reasons behind the drawing of the district lines for more than a year.

It took the Democrats taking over the Wisconsin Senate this Summer to get the first set of redistricting emails released to the public (and it also took Democrats taking over the Senate to get hearings on WEDC and Logisticare, keep this in mind this November). MBF finally released the redistricting documents this July, and they revealed such classy nuggets as this.
In one email, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, offered these thoughts about redrawing her district: "Western Wauwatosa — yes (more GOP)," "West Milwaukee — No (forgot to mention this part of current district — VERY Dem" and "Milwaukee — cop wards if needed."

She also wrote in the May 4, 2011, message to Tad Ottman, an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, "This is such a big task. So glad we are in control!"

Ottman worked on the redistricting plan out of the office of law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, which helped write the plan.....

One document released Tuesday detailed how many districts would be safe for Republicans, GOP-leaning, swing districts, safe Democratic, or lean Democratic under at least one version of the redistricting plan. It showed a dramatic increase in likely GOP seats, but Ottman said that chart did not represent the final breakdown.
Also helping to draw up the maps were GOP backers such as convicted criminal Scott Jensen and fellow RW voucher school hustler Zeus Rodriguez. You know who wasn't allowed a voice? The vast majority of Wisconsinites, even though they were paying MBF to do this work.

The MBF/WisGOP family made news in another way in recent days- Jason Thompson, son of flailing Senate candidate Tommy Thompson. Tommy's idiot son currently works at MBF, and why do you think he got that job? (Answer: Probably because being Tommy's boy is a pretty good guarantee to keep the money flowing from taxpayers through WisGOP to MBF). He followed MBF alum (and RNC Chair) Reince Priebus at a GOP fundraiser, telling the old white folks they should send President Obama "back to Kenya."

So how did MBF respond to one of its own making a racist statement like this? With mealy-mouthed disapproval.
Michael Best & Friedrich, the firm where Jason Thompson works, issued a statement Monday distancing it from the comments, calling them "regrettable."

"Jason has apologized for the comment through the campaign (and to his colleagues at the law firm) and the matter is being dealt with between father and son," the statement said.
Please, the only thing MBF regrets about Jason Thompson's act is that the d-bag was caught on tape saying something that hurts the chances of them having more connections to taxpayer funds through the Thompsons getting a job in D.C.

MBF kept Thompson on the payroll despite the fact that he played a role in Kelly Rindfleisch's arrest and eventual conviction for working on Walker-supported campaigns while pulling down a taxpayer salary, as Capper caught 9 months ago.
One of the things that stands out is that [current State Medicaid Director Brett] Davis appeared to be the candidate of choice for the WISGOP machine. The Republican Party of Waukesha County, one of the reddest counties in the state, sent out mailers which endorsed Davis for Lt. Governor. Davis was also endorsed by the Republican Party of Milwaukee County (home of Darlene Wink, Tim Russell and other names that have been popping up in the Walkergate investigation), Tommy Thompson, WMC and MMAC.

As a point of interest, and to further cement the ties that bind, Davis' campaign treasurer was Jason T. Thompson, son of Tommy Thompson, and currently an attorney at Walker's favorite law firm, Michael Best & Friedich.
Rindfleisch's plea deal got Jason Thompson off the witness stand last week, but that sketchiness mattered little to MBF. They know WisGOP connections like Jason Thompson are an ATM for them, and that's why he'll continue to collect his wingnut welfare at MBF.

It's a sick incestuous circule that envelops MBF and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and it has cost Wisconsinites millions in taxpayer dollars, along with a large amount of the state's integrity. So the question is- how do you make this costly cronyism stop?

I think the answer's simple- SEND THE MBF LAWYERS TO JAIL for refusing court orders to release information to opposing sides in the redistricting cases. And make MBF pay back all the funds they got from taxpayers for taking on GOP causes over these 21 months of the Fitzwalkerstan era.

Making it not worth their while to work for the corrupt WisGOP is the only way that MBF will stop stealing our money. And we need to make these corrupt connections clear over the next 15 days, to remind folks of the cronyism and lack fo transparency that happens when Republicans are put in charge of anything.

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