MADISON, Wis. — Did a sleazy budget deal between a desperate Gov. Scott Walker and three holdout Republican State Senators break the law? One Wisconsin Now has submitted evidence to law enforcement authorities including the Dane County District Attorney, and is asking for an investigation of whether or not a state law that prohibits legislators from agreeing to vote for a bill in exchange for other actions by a governor was violated.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “In their zeal to get their way, it seems Senators Kapenga, Nass and Stroebel may have forgotten there are still laws protecting clean and open government in Wisconsin, and that as legislators they are still expected to know them and to abide by them.”
Wisconsin Statutes 13.06, Executive Favor, reads:
Any member of the legislature who gives, offers or promises to give his or her vote or influence in favor of or against any measure or proposition pending or proposed to be introduced in the legislature, or that has already been passed by either house of the legislature, in consideration of or on condition that the governor approve, disapprove, veto or sign, or agree to approve, disapprove, veto or sign, any other measure or proposition pending or proposed to be introduced in the legislature or that has already been passed by the legislature, or either house thereof, or in consideration or upon condition that the governor nominate for appointment or appoint or remove any person to or from any office or position under the laws of this state, is guilty of a Class I felony.
After the state budget passed the Assembly, Senators Kapenga, Nass and Stroebel declared that they would not vote for the nearly three month late state spending plan unless a series of demands that they issued were met. Together, their three “no” votes were enough to block passage of the budget in the State Senate.
As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when Gov. Walker signed the budget he used his partial veto power to strike several budget items to satisfy several of the demands of the holdout legislators. But Walker also took a separate action outside of the budget bill, which he highlighted in the same press release, signing an executive order implementing a policy provision contained in another bill authored by Sen. Kapenga and sponsored by Senators Nass and Stroebel. The GOP trio responded with a press statement thanking Gov. Walker for his “cooperative approach” in meeting their demands.
Based on their actions and statements, it appears that state law may have been violated. Ross has provided the Dane County District Attorney with documentation of the events and wrote, “I fear that, in addition to their public deal regarding veto assurances, they also struck a secret deal … I must ask that you, together with the District Attorneys of Ozaukee, Waukesha and Walworth Counties, where Senators Stroebel, Kapenga and Nass reside, respectively, investigate this disturbing matter and reaffirm to all Wisconsinites that no one is above the law.”
He concluded, ”Gov. Walker was desperate to get a deal and these three Republican Senators knew it, brazenly holding up the process and publicly releasing a list of demands to be met before they would agree to vote for the budget. Their actions were unquestionably sleazy. We’re asking the authorities to investigate if legal lines were crossed, and if they were, to hold these perpetrators accountable to the full extent allowed by law.”