New Campaign Corruption Charges

In this update: 1. Kenosha man charged with conspiracy in campaign fund laundering scheme 2. Criminally charged California fundraiser had ties to Wisconsin politicians 3. What’s behind the state budget stalemate 4. How citizens can make things better New Campaign Corruption Charges

Email date: 9/4/07

In this update:
1. Kenosha man charged with conspiracy in campaign fund laundering scheme
2. Criminally charged California fundraiser had ties to Wisconsin politicians
3. What’s behind the state budget stalemate
4. How citizens can make things better

Those who thought the criminal investigations into political corruption were a thing of the recent past in Wisconsin have had their illusions shattered. Today it was announced that a Kenosha businessman is being charged with conspiracy for his role in an elaborate campaign money laundering operation that funneled money to President George W. Bush, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, among others.

To read the criminal complaint against John W. Erickson, go here. Erickson is a business associate of Kenosha casino developer Dennis Troha, who pleaded guilty in July to two misdemeanor federal campaign law violations for making illegal donations in 2002 through family members to the state Democratic Party - believing they would help Doyle - as well as illegal donations through family members to Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. Troha is Doyle’s single biggest campaign donor. Erickson has given nearly $14,000 to candidates in Wisconsin and just over $8,300 of that to Doyle, but according to the criminal complaint filed today he assisted a conspiracy to illegally funnel more than $100,000 to the governor’s campaign.

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Erickson’s indictment comes just days after revelations that a top Democratic fundraiser who was a fugitive from justice until his arrest last Friday on a grand theft charge made $2,000 in donations to Doyle to aid the governor’s re-election bid.

National candidates are scrambling to get rid of money they received from the now-disgraced campaign rainmaker, Norman Hsu, but for the time being Doyle is hanging on to Hsu’s money.

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A former state legislative leader and cabinet secretary suggested the other day that the stalemate in state budget negotiations was to be expected because of some powerful corrupting influences in modern politics. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram published an editorial last week that echoes some of the same themes and offers one common-sense solution.

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What can fed-up citizens do to start turning things around? First, load up on inspiration and ammunition by going to Fighting Bob Fest this Saturday. Then mark your calendar for the People’s Legislature "Storm for Reform" at the Capitol on Tuesday, September 18.