The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley reported Friday on possible “logrolling” by the Walker Administration and three holdout conservative state senators to get the state budget passed. Of course, there is no evidence of it and what even the liberals are speculating at is not illegal.
But let’s not let facts get in the way of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about Governor Scott Walker. We wouldn’t want Marley to set a precedent.
One Wisconsin Now (OWN) is accusing Walker of making a deal with three conservatives, state Senators Duey Stroebel of Saukville, Chris Kapenga of Delafield and Steve Nass of Whitewater, that he would create an Inspector General position at the Department of Transportation (DOT) in exchange for their votes for the budget. OWN’s Executive Director Scot Ross alleges that this is illegal under Wisconsin’s logrolling law which prevents lawmakers from promising votes for one piece of legislation in exchange for votes on another piece of legislation.
It was not until the eleventh paragraph that Marley wrote, “State law does not specifically bar governors from negotiating on issues that involve both a budget and an executive order.”
The fact that Marley and Ross (is he on the Journal Sentinel payroll yet?) have no evidence, it’s all speculation that’s been denied by the parties involved, and that nothing illegal could have happened, is not going to stop Editor George Stanley’s newspaper from running the story.
So Marley consulted a legal “expert,” a former chief counsel to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, Susan Crawford. “There was clearly some deal made,” Crawford told Marley, although an attorney should know better than to say something “clearly” happened when she has no way of knowing.
“What were the terms of the deal exactly? I think that’s something the public has a right to know,” Crawford said, according to Marley. We don’t know if Marley choked on his coffee or did a spit take when he heard those words. Did Crawford have that Road to Damascus epiphany about the public’s “right to know” while riding a Talgo train on a trip arranged by Adelman Travel?
But the Democrats’ legal expert couldn’t find anything wrong even if the speculation about a deal was correct. “Arguably that is not a technical violation of that statute, even though it is conduct that falls within the spirit of the law,” Crawford told Marley.
Of course, it’s not until the last paragraph of the story that we learn the Legislative Council has said the law has never been interpreted by the courts or the state attorney general in any case, so Crawford’s “spirit of the law” is just hyperbole.
Marley also does not quote from one, not one, conservative legal expert in a state full of conservative legal experts. Nobody from the Federalist Society, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, or even a major law firm like Michael Best & Friedrich. He just consults a Doyle lawyer who signed the recall petition against Walker in 2011.
By the way, a big proponent of creating the Inspector General at DOT, state Sen. Dave Craig, R-Town of Vernon, still voted against the state budget, more evidence that the creation of the position wasn’t part of any budget deal. Marley does mention the proposed law to create the Inspector General position. But Marley does not mention that Craig was one of the senators that introduced the legislation because it would have countered Marley’s statements about the other senators that voted for the budget while supporting the Inspector General, too.
So let’s recap. Marley has a story that speculates something happened but there is no evidence of it happening, that there’s actually an indication that it didn’t happen, that if it did happen it wasn’t illegal, and that even the Democratic attorney who signed a recall petition agrees it wasn’t illegal, but Marley ran with a biased story that does not bother to consult any conservative legal experts.
Submit that story for a Pulitzer Prize!