Email date: 12/27/07
In this update:
1. State severs ties with Accenture on voter list project
2. Jensen’s latest ploy illustrates legal double standard
3. Doyle makes butt ugly cable bill only homely
The state Elections Board announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached to end the state’s contract with the global outsourcing firm Accenture to create a computerized statewide voter registration system. The Democracy Campaign fought the arrangement for three years, and that fight now ends with Accenture being shown the door.
For newspaper coverage of this development, go here and here. To see television coverage, go here and click on the video camera icon. To read the blog the Democracy Campaign’s director posted yesterday, go here.
When the Capitol caucus scandal was uncovered, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen initially insisted that staff under his control did not illegally campaign on state time using state resources. Then Jensen used taxpayer money in an attempt to thwart a criminal investigation. Once he was criminally charged, he asked for and was granted the rare privilege of having pre-trial appeals aimed at getting the charges dismissed heard. When his exhaustive efforts to beat the charges failed and he had to stand trial, he changed the tune of his defense, arguing that state offices under his supervision were used for electioneering but only because everyone else at the Capitol was doing it.
After he was convicted of felony misconduct in public office, his legal team got him a new trial on a technicality. Now Jensen is asking for treatment that ordinary citizens are never afforded. He wants the new trial to be held in his home county instead of the county where the alleged crimes were committed. And he wants the prosecutor who has been handling the case to be replaced by one from his home turf.
Jensen is basing his request on a state law that wasn’t even in effect when he was originally charged. Rather, allies of his in the state Assembly inserted language that creates a unique home court advantage for politicians into the ethics reform bill that was signed into law this past February.
While Jensen wants what he considers a more friendly venue for a new trial, the state attorney general doesn’t want another trial at all. The curious circumstances surrounding this twist in the Jensen saga was the subject of a Big Money Blog posted a few days before Christmas.
Before Governor Jim Doyle signed the cable TV bill into law, he used his partial veto authority to make substantial changes to the legislation that improve what otherwise would have been deeply flawed public policy. While the changes are modest and the new law still has noticeable warts, the improvements represent a victory for public interest advocates - including the Democracy Campaign - that opposed the version passed by the Legislature and urged the governor to use his veto to make it better for consumers and public access television stations.