Thursday, February 19, 2015

State law loophole lets ex-legislator grab plum WMC lobbying job

It's a big story indeed that the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has hired former Sheboygan GOP State Senator and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Leibham to lobby his former colleagues less that three months after leaving the Legislature.

Leibham resigned December 1, 2014.

It shows that Republicans doing Scott Walker and the far-right's ideological bidding think they will need the hand of a veteran insider to help steer controversial 'right-to-work' wage-depressing legislation through two legislative chambers they control when the bill is introduced.

But I wish when media report this kind of legislator-to-lobbyist move they would highlight this crucial fact about the revolving door:

Legislators have adopted ethics and lobbying Wisconsin statutory language (Chapter 19.45 (8) that achieves this GAB guideline:

Former State Public Officials (other than a legislator or legislative employee)
  • Accept anything of pecuniary value from a lobbyist or from a lobbyist's employee
  • Communicate with former agency as a paid representative for 12 months after leaving public office
  • Communicate with any agency as a paid representative for 12 months on matters for which formerly responsible
  • Represent any person other than the state in connection with any proceeding, application, contract, claim, or charge in which the individual was personally and substantially involved as a state public official
If Leibham had been deputy secretary of Workforce Development, for example, or an executive at the WEDC or Revenue or Walker's chief of staff he could not have taken this lobbying position for another nine months.

But because he was a legislator, he can sign on and cash in now.

The fall-back excuse offered by legislators for the very valuable perk they wrote for themselves is that their pay is usually less than that of many bureaucrats - - though legislators do get nearly $50,000 in salary, tax-free meals, mileage and lodging payments, and other goodies - - but they have made sure they can jump quickly to better opportunities when they arise.

As did former GOP State Senator Neal Kedzie didn't have to wait a year to go to work for the state truckers last year, and former GOP State Rep. Scott Suder could quickly join the paper manufacturers after Walker pulled his 2013 scandal-tainted appointment to the PSC.

These lobbying positions can be taken immediately after a legislator retires or resigns regardless of how close any legislator was to a special interest that comes a-callin' with a job offer.

And trust me, it is because Leibham was a state legislator that the state's biggest corporate trade association - - with its own multi-level stand-along building a few hundred yards from the State Capitol - - has hired him.


Anonymous said...

Where else could an individual be rejected by the public for their work in the legislature and be given a position that allows them to influence the very legislation from which they were just found to be unfit. Who says money doesn't rule Wisconsin government.

Anonymous said...

If this was such a BFD then one of our media watchdogs would be telling this story.

Haven't you heard the story of Chicken Little?

All of your "the sky is falling" anti-Walker posts are exactly the opposite of what my local newspaper, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publishes.

They never have stories like you publish. As long as they endorse him at any level, he has my vote.

Maybe you should pay more attention to what's in the news and quit making stuff up!

Anonymous said...

Anon...2:21 why do you even come to this blog if all you want is for the Journal Sentinel to tell you their news? If YOU THINK THE MJS IS GIVING YOU THE WHOLE STORY STICK WITH THEM. I choose to get my news from multiple sources and then decide on my own what I consider to be truth! Apparently you believe it is fine for legislators to have immediate access to influence legislation upon leaving office while denying that same right to other government employees. That is your right but then don't declare dissenting views as being untruthful! Have a nice day .

Anonymous said...

Mr. Leibham,
It is a BFD and the fact that you sold out the people of WI in order to slide into a well-paid lobbyist position for WMC (which, btw, is under investigation into dark money funding routed via WiCFG, AFP and other Koch-related entities) is no laughing matter. The marriage with WMC with Walker's government is a shining example of fascism. And you, apparently, are one of their water boys.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:21 - I don't know whether to laugh or cry about your comment.