We're Not Illinois, But...

In this update: 1. Lawmakers defend expense account double dipping 2. Excuses, excuses We're Not Illinois, But...

Email date: 12/10/08

In this update:
1. Lawmakers defend expense account double dipping
2. Excuses, excuses

Our neighbors to the south just made sure it looks like very small potatoes, but Wisconsin legislators have been caught with their hands in two cookie jars at once. And they don’t seem at all inclined to stop. It may pale in comparison to what’s going down in Illinois but, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said today in an editorial, it still stinks.

As political calamity unfolded south of the border, the Wisconsin State Journal sounded a cautionary note, saying in an editorial: "By comparison, Wisconsin might look pretty good. And yet it wasn’t that long ago that a Milwaukee state senator went to prison for a scheme to siphon money from a nonprofit dedicated to helping some the senator’s poorest constituents. It wasn’t that long ago that top leaders in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly were sentenced to jail - and one to prison - for ripping off taxpayers and rigging elections by turning armies of state employees into private campaign soldiers. Even the reputation of the Wisconsin Supreme Court has been soiled in recent years by ethics investigations against the last two winners of nasty and expensive high court elections."

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Thinking Wisconsin is immune to Illinois-style corruption is a flight of fancy, especially in light of state officials’ stubborn resistance to fundamental reforms that would shore up the state’s tattered campaign finance and ethics laws.

For years, Wisconsin politicians have used every excuse in the book to avoid reforming the system and explain away their inaction. With the economy in shambles, expect a new excuse to soon be in fashion. That’s the subject of our latest Big Money Blog.