October 3, 2001
Madison - Taxpayers who’ve had their money flagrantly misused by state employees engaged in secret, illegal campaign activity will be fleeced again unless the decision by legislative leaders to use tax funds to pay lawyers to defend legislative caucus staffers is reversed, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said today.
An ongoing investigation has revealed apparent violations of state campaign finance, ethics and open records laws by caucus employees using state offices, equipment and resources - on state time - to assist legislative candidates.
"The practical effect of this decision is to punish taxpayers for having their money wasted on illegal political activities," WDC executive director Mike McCabe said.
The rationale that caucus employees deserve taxpayer-funded legal representation because the staffers are being investigated over job-related activities ignores that the conduct in question is not part of caucus employees’ job duties and, in fact, is prohibited by law.
"Expecting taxpayers to foot the bill would be defensible if these employees had been doing their jobs and someone wanted to haul them into court. But they weren’t doing their jobs. They were doing work they weren’t supposed to be doing on state time. They should pay for their own lawyers," McCabe said.