(The Center Square) – The top man in the Wisconsin Senate says it could be a while before anything of substance gets done at the statehouse.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber that Gov. Tony Evers’ secret recording of their phone call has poisoned the relationship between the governor and Republican lawmakers.
“I am really struggling to figure out a path forward as we sit here today,” Fitzgerald said Thursday. “And there is a lot of important stuff that needs to be dealt with in the short term.”
Evers’ office acknowledged this week that someone secretly recorded a May 14 phone call that centered on what to do in the immediate aftermath of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the governor’s Safer at Home order.
Fitzgerald told Weber that he didn’t know about the taping at the time, and added that the governor’s office didn’t say anything about it until the recording was on its way to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“We got a call directly from [Chief of Staff] Maggie Gau yesterday saying, ‘Oh, by the way, we did record that whole conversation. And we’re releasing it to the press,'” Fitzgerald said. “I was in shock.”
A spokesperson for Evers told the Journal Sentinel that it recorded the conversation with Republican leaders to have a transcript of what Republican leaders wanted in terms of new coronavirus regulations. Evers’ office also said the governor didn’t know that the conversation was being taped.
Fitzgerald said if that is the case, that’s even worse.
“If that’s true, then they have a different issue, which is some other staffer in the governor’s office is secretly recording conversations between the legislative leaders and the governor of the state,” Fitzgerald said. “That is far more serious than if the governor knew, I believe.”
Fitzgerald said until whoever secretly recorded the call is identified, and fired, there will be no trust between the Republicans who control the legislature and the governor.
“I don’t see how anybody in the room could ever build trust that they could have an open and frank discussion about a public policy topic,” Fitzgerald said.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.You can listen to the entire interview on the Jay Weber WISN-AM podcast: