In a lengthy private meeting earlier Thursday, Assembly Republicans overwhelmingly voted to kill a bill that would merge the state Ethics Board and Elections Board and give the new agency more power to ferret out corruption.Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) claims that he wanted to kill ethics reform because he wants more public input on the subject. It also seems that he wants more time to look at the issue. My question is how much more time do you need? Didn't the caucus scandal hit in 2002? Exactly how much time do you need to start policing yourselves in Madison? I think that this is all just spin for "we don't want no darn ethics reform!"
They scuttled the bill less than three weeks before a Dane County judge is to sentence former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield), who was convicted of three felonies and one misdemeanor for ordering aides to campaign on state time.
Jensen is one of five lawmakers - three Republicans and two Democrats - convicted of misconduct since last fall.
The Republican-run Senate passed the bill 28-5 last year, and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has cited the measure as a top priority.
Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), sponsor of the bill, said he was disappointed with the outcome.
"It tells you they don't appreciate the gravity . . . that the Wisconsin Legislature has serious ethical problems," he said.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, is quoted as saying the following:
"It's arrogant beyond belief," Heck said. "Are they so disconnected with the rest of the citizens of this state that they think people don't care about this stuff?"From your lips to God's ears Mr. Heck, from your lips to God's ears.
He said, "People will remember in November," when all 99 Assembly seats are up for election.