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The president in this case not only broke the law by asking a foreign government to manufacture evidence against a political opponent, he’s also openly admitted it, which puts us in a very different territory.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, backing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump amid allegations he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his family.

The American people are tired and deserve better. Our nation’s laws were crafted from sacred ideals and nobody is above these principles. An impeachment inquiry is proper, timely and necessary.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee.

The Democrats have been searching for any alleged ‘impeachable’ offense since the beginning of the Trump presidency. I expect the Judiciary Committee and others will continue their partisan investigations, tarnishing Congress’ credibility and further dividing the country.
– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

If Speaker Pelosi wanted to officially begin an impeachment inquiry, she would have brought a resolution to the House floor for a vote. We must focus on the issues impacting Americans — our $22 trillion national debt, the rising costs of health care, and job creation for families and workers. Let’s end this circus and get to work.
– U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, denouncing the inquiry as “political theater.”

*Read more in an item below.

That rainy-day fund is up to $600 million, so before we adjourn this session, I’d really like to talk to the speaker about offering one more tax cut before we leave this session, probably in March or April.
– Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who’s running for the 5th CD, floating a new round of tax cuts.

I would consider that, but there are some things giving me pause. A one-time increase in revenue cannot in perpetuity fund a tax cut. That’s not the way money works.
– Gov. Tony Evers, who suggested political motives for Fitzgerald’s call for new tax cuts. “My guess is it has something to do with election prospects for him,” Evers told a WisPolitics luncheon. A Fitzgerald spokesman noted Fitzgerald has overseen billions in tax cuts, and “it should be no surprise that he’s interested in the possibility of further tax cuts following revenue estimates early next year.”

–A collection of insider opinion–
(Sep. 21-27, 2019)


Tax talk: It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Republicans wanted to send a little something back to the taxpayers if new revenue projections come in higher than expected. After all, that’s been their default position in recent years. Still, in the wake of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald floating the idea of a tax cut yet this session, insiders aren’t sure it will be anything more than talk. Not only had Fitzgerald not cleared the idea with his fellow GOP colleagues before bringing it up, but it’s not clear the January revenue picture will be rosy enough to afford a tax cut. And many doubt Republicans could get Gov. Tony Evers on board. Fitzgerald catches some insiders off guard when he tells “UpFront” he believes the coming January revenue estimates will be high enough to allow for another cut before the Legislature adjourns for the session in the spring, though he doesn’t offer specifics on how it might be structured. “I think it will put families in a much better position in Wisconsin,” Fitzgerald says. The day after the interview airs, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, indicates he’d be open to discussing the idea with his caucus, but lays down a marker that it would have to come from new revenues — not the rainy day fund — and wouldn’t necessarily involve an income tax cut. The Capitol has seen a string of revenue estimates finding more money coming in than earlier projected. That includes the last look at 2018-19 by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, finding the state took in $75.5 million more during the fiscal year than its May estimate. That additional money meant a $30.7 million deposit in the rainy day fund — pushing its balance to $649.1 million — and upping the state’s projected ending net balance for 2019-21 to $74.1 million. That’s always good news, some note, but it also doesn’t mean the state is flush with cash. There is a whole lot of uncertainty in the economy between the trade war, the tariffs and what’s going on in Washington, D.C. So talking up hopes of a windfall come January could be a little risky, some warn. And the guv expresses skepticism about Fitzgerald’s call for new tax cuts. He tells a WisPolitics.com luncheon that he’d consider it. But some things “give me pause” and suggested Fitzgerald’s call was politically inspired by his bid for the 5th CD. Evers says he’d rather put aside any extra money that comes in to guard against an economic downturn.

Out-of-state students: The University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus had a record incoming class of 7,500 students. And just barely half of them starting at UW-Madison are from Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Journal reports the 50.3 percent of Wisconsin students making up the class is a 3.1-percentage point drop from last year and a significant decline from the late 1990s and early 2000s, when two out of every three freshmen were state residents. Insiders note a number of factors contributing to the shift. Thanks to the tuition freeze for in-state students — now going on its seventh year — one of the obvious ways to pull in new revenue is admit more out-of-state residents. After all, they’re paying $37,785 in tuition and fees this year, compared to $10,725 for state residents. Still, the numbers aren’t simply the result of UW officials trying to pull in more money. The 3,797 Wisconsin students in the incoming class is the second-largest — in raw numbers — of the past decade. Meanwhile the state is producing fewer high school graduates, who have cheaper options at the system’s other dozen campuses or at tech colleges. For elected officials, one key stat has been the acceptance rate for in-state applicants; constituents can get a little grumpy if their kid is denied entry to UW-Madison while out-of-state students are getting in. Still, the percentage of in-state applicants who were accepted in 2019 was 67.7 percent after the number has fluctuated between 62.9 percent and 77.5 percent since 2010. In raw figures, the number of Wisconsin high school students accepted — though not all enrolled — has been fairly constant over the past decade, ranging from 5,504 to 5,860.


Ron Kind: The longtime congressman for western Wisconsin is exactly the kind of Dem in a swing-ish seat who could feel the squeeze of the House impeachment inquiry. But that’s IF Republicans could find an A-level candidate to take him on, insiders say. And at this point, Republicans haven’t been able to muster anyone to get into the race against the La Crosse lawmaker. When President Trump won the 3rd CD in 2016, it immediately put Kind’s seat on the map for Republicans, some of whom argued the lawmaker was lucky the GOP didn’t put anyone up against him that year. But with Kind cruising to reelection in 2018 with 59.7 percent of the vote, $2.6 million in the bank and no declared Republican candidate for 2020, it’s hard for in-state insiders to muster much enthusiasm for the race. That hasn’t stopped national Republicans from playing up the idea that Kind is in trouble. But you can’t beat someone with no one, state-based operatives regularly note. Fourteen months out from his reelect, Republicans haven’t had anyone step forward despite trying to goad state Sen. Pat Testin, R-Stevens Point, into the race with polling the NRCC said showed Kind was vulnerable. By this point in 2009, Republicans already had then-District Attorney Sean Duffy declared in the 7th CD as they targeted longtime U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau. But recruiting efforts keep coming up empty, in part, because there isn’t much optimism that even a good campaign could knock off Kind, Wisconsin operatives say. But could the Dem push toward impeachment prompt a good candidate to get off the sidelines and get in? As his Dem colleagues U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, and Mark Pocan, of Town of Vermont, back the call for an impeachment inquiry, Kind strikes a more cautious tone. He says Congress must investigate the claims in the whistleblower complaint and declares that as “a former special prosecutor, I know no one is above the law — not even the president.” That tone isn’t much of a surprise, insiders says. He’s earned his cautious reputation, and it’s one reason why he’s been able to hang onto his blue-ish seat without many stiff challenges over his career. This isn’t Madison or Milwaukee with a deep-blue seat like those occupied by Moore and Pocan, some note. This is a largely rural district that includes a lot of white, blue-collar, pro-gun voters, the likes of which warmed to Trump in 2016. And some expect him to continue taking a cautious approach as this heats up. But that’s also where insiders wonder if Kind can get squeezed. Large swaths of the Dem base are fired up to go after a president they believe has already committed high crimes and misdemeanors. If Kind fails to embrace his party’s push, will the base turn a cold shoulder? Likewise, if he hops aboard the impeachment train, does that turn off the swing voters he needs for reelection? It’s a similar dilemma that other Dems in swing seats — particularly those that backed Trump in 2016 — are now facing. Some Republicans believe impeachment is problematic, because moderate Dems and swing voters may be turned off by the process. Others argue Kind has built up a credibility with those voters over his long career that means they won’t turn on him just over this issue; the prosecutor background also helps.

Speaker’s task forces: The whole idea behind the special committees, backers say, is to try taking partisanship out of the process on an issue that everyone agrees needs to be addressed. Didn’t exactly work out that way with the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention. For one, the report’s release was overshadowed by questions over the body’s approach to funding a suicide prevention hotline. Two, Dem members complained the final recommendations didn’t address guns and their push for a red-flag law, leading them to brand the document incomplete. The state budget allocated $220,000 to aid a suicide prevention hotline and gave the Joint Finance Committee the power to release the money. But a draft of the task force’s recommendations, which multiple media outlets obtained the day before the official release, advocated for a bill that would allocate the money while adding new reporting requirements. That prompted concerns the money would be delayed. In the end, the commission decided to simply call for Joint Finance to release the money, but add the reporting requirements and other changes the body had been discussing in the dropped bill. Insiders noted the two approaches — in the end — aren’t that much different other than the extra time to pass legislation vs. JFC approving the money’s release. Some say the bill was kicked around, because some task force members wanted to tweak the funding and didn’t initially realize JFC had the power to accomplish that without additional legislation. Then questions about when the task force dropped the proposed bill became a focus of the coverage, much to the frustration of Chair Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan. Meanwhile, four of the six Dem members have their own frustrations since the recommendations include no new gun restriction proposals. Gov. Tony Evers and Dem lawmakers have repeatedly pushed for a red-flag law and universal background checks this year, arguing they could help prevent both mass shootings and stop people intent on harming themselves from having access to firearms. But GOP legislative leaders have repeatedly rejected the calls, saying they’re not interested in anything that would infringe upon their constituents’ Second Amendment rights. Some Republicans are also hot over the release of the draft report, accusing Dems of trying to undercut the body’s work. These things are supposed to be nonpartisan, some Republicans say. If this is how Dems are going to act, expect Assembly GOP leaders to have second thoughts about bringing their colleagues from the other side of the aisle into the process. To Dems, meanwhile, the frustration is Republicans continue to block new action on gun measures even as the public overwhelmingly backs them. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, meanwhile, hopes to take up the task force bills by year’s end, a spokeswoman says.

Personal income: The Department of Revenue is upping its projections for personal income growth in 2019. But it’s also dropping expectations for 2020. The latest Wisconsin Economic Outlook projects personal income will increase 4.6 percent in 2019 and 4.2 percent in 2020. That’s a slight change from a report from earlier this year that predicted 3.5 percent for this year and 4.4 percent for the next. The report also projects personal income to continue growing more than 4 percent annually through 2022, with wages acting as “an important driver” for growth until 2020. The report also notes “uncertainties clouding the forecast” for growth in both the state and U.S. economies. While consumer confidence is close to an all-time high, uncertainties surrounding trade have had a dampening effect over the past two months.


7th CD clerks: No matter what dates the guv picked for the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, someone was going to complain. Now that he’s ordered a Jan. 27 election and a Dec. 30 primary — on Mondays no less — no one has more of a right to complain than the local clerks, insiders say. With Gov. Evers’ order, local election officials will now put on four elections in five months and six in 12. What’s more, that Dec. 30 primary comes right between Christmas and New Year’s Day — a tough time to add to the workload or find people to staff the polls. Two county clerks tell WisPolitics.com they’re not sure the dates Evers picked are do-able, citing the financial burden of additional elections, vacation schedules and other factors. So happy holidays, some insiders note dryly. Republicans, meanwhile, howl that politics drove Evers’ decision and he is trying to suppress GOP turnout. It would’ve made more sense just to schedule the special election for the February and April elections, when voters are already heading to the polls, they argue. But then the 7th CD would be without a representative in Congress while the House is dealing with impeachment proceedings, a trade war and other pressing issues, the guv counters. Evers insist politics wasn’t an issue in his decision and he just wanted to fill the seat as quickly as possible. Under state law, the earliest Evers could’ve scheduled the special election was Jan. 21. But that would’ve required a Dec. 24 primary. He also was bumping up against a state law that dictates a special election after Feb. 1 has to match up with the already- scheduled spring contests. To beat that deadline, Evers could’ve selected Jan. 28 for a Tuesday special election. But with primaries required four weeks before a special, that would’ve meant voters heading to the polls Dec. 31 and clerks spending their New Year’s Eve counting ballots. Moving it to a rare — if not unprecedented — Monday election by picking Jan. 27, Evers avoids that mess. He also avoids the possibility turnout in the 7th CD race would impact the state Supreme Court contest. Dems are already banking on their presidential primary driving turnout and boosting their chances of beating conservative Justice Daniel Kelly. It’s an open question how many extra GOP voters from northern Wisconsin would’ve turned out if they had the special election for the 7th at the same time as the Supreme Court contest. But some ask: Why risk it? With the compressed election window, insiders generally believe it benefits state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, considering he’s been putting in the legwork for years in anticipation of a run. With less time to meet voters, those with better name ID are naturally going to do well. Add in his support from fellow elected officials in the district who can act as surrogates, and it looks like an edge for him. Still, others say Jason Church, an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and retired Army captain who has now formally announced his campaign, will have a compelling pitch to GOP primary voters as a double amputee and outsider. Raising the needed resources to get out that message will be key, but some believe he’s got a shot to pull it together in time. On the Dem side, no one has emerged as an official candidate yet with several still kicking around the idea. Also facing a compressed window, Dems’ best hopes might be for a low-turnout, low- attention race combined with finding the right approach to motivating their base in the heavily GOP seat. After all, the dates of the primary and general election aren’t that far off from the special for the 10th Senate District in which Dem Patty Schachtner shocked the system and pulled off the surprise win in a seat President Trump won by 17 points in 2016. Dems would need a similar dynamic to pull off a win in a congressional seat the president won by more than 20 points three years ago. Still, insiders say that’s a big ask that’s much harder to pull off in a congressional race compared to a state Senate contest. Meanwhile, with Republicans seething that former Gov. Scott Walker would’ve been crucified by the media for calling a special election over the holidays, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, adds a new wrinkle to the debate by urging Evers to move the special election because the Dec. 30 primary falls on the eighth — and final — day of Hanukkah. Dems act incredulously at Vos’ demand. After all, the Assembly had to backtrack earlier this year after approving a session calendar that included Yom Kippur — which begins on the evening of Oct. 8 and ends the following evening — as a possible floor date. While the Assembly approved a resolution to ensure it wouldn’t meet on the holiest day of the year in Judaism, the Senate still plans to be on the floor Oct. 8. Dems ask: Where’s Vos’ outrage over that?

*See the Vos letter: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190927-Vos-Letter.pdf

Wisconsin jobs: There are signs that the Badger State is shedding some jobs. And both sides want you to think the other guy is to blame. The latest Wisconsin Economic Outlook from the Department of Revenue finds the state’s labor markets began to “show some wear” this year, after seven years of growth between 2012 and 2018. Employment in Wisconsin has grown at less than half the pace of the U.S. average over the past two years, with annual job gains in 2017 and 2018 down from the average between 2011 and 2016. DOR’s forecast predicts annual employment growth of 0.8 percent in the state for this year and the next, followed by a “significant slowdown” in 2021 and 2022 along national trends. Meanwhile, some numbers starting to trickle in on 2019 show softness in the labor market. Wisconsin lost 4,000 manufacturing jobs between January and July, according to Bloomberg. The unemployment number in August ticked up to 3.1 percent — still a pretty good number — ending a record of 13 straight months at or below 3 percent. Those monthly numbers also showed the state had 10,500 fewer nonfarm jobs in August than it did in January. As job creation became an issue during Scott Walker’s time in office, Republicans cautioned against reading too much into monthly unemployment releases, arguing the quarterly releases from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics were the “gold standard.” But that hasn’t stopped some conservatives from trying to use the numbers to knock the “Evers economy.” To some, it’s no shock why Republicans are trying to place the blame on the Dem guv: They’re trying to deflect some of the blow from the president. That’s where most of the focus has been nationally as the economy deals with the impact of the president’s trade wars and tariffs. Dems are using that uncertainty as one of their main arguments against Trump’s reelection with Wisconsin one of the key swing states for 2020. They continue to highlight stories of the struggles in Wisconsin’s farm community and manufacturing sector as evidence of the impact from the president’s trade policies — and suggest it’s why voters will turn on him next year. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — candidate for the 5th CD and one of the president’s biggest backers in Wisconsin — credits Trump for a “roaring” economy in Wisconsin while on “UpFront,” saying he believes it’s why the president will win the state again. As Walker faced a recall election in 2012, both sides had a delicate balance with the state’s jobs picture. Republicans sought to credit the then-guv for progress without that positive news seeping over to the presidential race and vice versa. Still, insiders say it’s a different picture now for the simple reason that Evers isn’t on the ballot in 2020. He may have his own issues with the state’s economy come 2022 depending on how things shake out. But for now, the focus for voters when it comes to the economy is the president, they say.


Five of the seven members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation sit on committees that will play a key role as the House pursues an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Calls from Dem lawmakers to begin the process of removing Trump from office reignited this week after reports he pressured the newly elected president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his family and a whistleblower alleged administration officials tried to cover it up.

While House committees have been investigating Trump for months, Speaker Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for the House to move forward with an “impeachment inquiry.” That is not a formal process, but the California Dem’s statement marked a shift in the attitude of House Dem leadership from skeptical of a process they reportedly thought to be unwise and politically divisive to full-fledged support.

“I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said in a televised statement Tuesday night after caucusing with House Dems.

Each of the six committees — Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — had previously been pursuing investigations into separate segments of Trump’s presidency, business practices and past. And all but the Intelligence Committee feature at least one Wisconsin lawmaker.

The Judiciary Committee — which outgoing U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, has sat on for the duration of his 40-year congressional career and chaired from 2001 through 2007 — will play perhaps the largest role as the panel with jurisdiction over articles of impeachment.

The committee began investigating Trump in March, just two months after Dems took back the majority, with a focus on allegations of corruption and abuses of power.

The scope of that probe widened a month later to include Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that documented several incidents Dems charge have the potential to represent obstruction of justice. Among them: a directive from Trump to his then-White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller and shut down his investigation.

But Sensenbrenner has dismissed the Dem-backed allegations against Trump stemming from the Russia probe, saying Mueller found “insufficient evidence to prove that the President or his staff engaged in criminal conspiracy” and called on Dems to “move on.”

Sensenbrenner also sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the six that falls under Pelosi’s impeachment “umbrella.” That panel has launched a joint probe of Trump’s interaction with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky along with the House Intelligence and Oversight committees.

The Menomonee Falls Republican told the Journal Sentinel early this week that a memo detailing Trump’s conversation with Zelensky was “really nothing” and accused Dems of putting “the cart before the horse” by announcing an impeachment inquiry.

But U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, who has long backed impeachment and sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, had a different take -away from the memo of Trump’s conversations with Zelensky. The Milwaukee Dem said she welcomed “Speaker Pelosi’s decision to begin an impeachment inquiry.”

“His recent calls urging Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponent is the latest example of Trump’s lawlessness,” she said. “The administration’s mishandling of the whistleblower complaint also illustrates the persuasiveness of their corruption.”

Impeachment skeptic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind also sits on panel but has largely steered away from the investigations into Trump. While he said the Mueller Report displayed “an unprecedented level” of interference in 2016 election, he did not explicitly call for impeachment.

Asked by WisPolitics.com on Tuesday about where he stands on an impeachment inquiry, the La Crosse Dem sidestepped the question and instead called on Trump to release the “extremely concerning” whistleblower complaint.

That complaint was on Thursday made public, revealing allegations that intelligence officials were told to “lock down” all records of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky on an isolated computer system.

But Kind and Moore’s work on impeachment as members of the Ways and Means Committee will focus on a different area: Trump’s tax returns.

The panel invoked a statute of Internal Revenue Code that authorizes certain congressional committees to access the tax returns of American citizens to request Trump’s tax documents from the IRS in April.

But the committee was shot down by the Treasury Department in a move Moore called “yet another affront to democracy.” The panel in July sued the Trump administration to get the documents, but proceedings are still tied up in court.

“Congress has the right and obligation to perform oversight including the right to request the President’s tax returns,” Moore said in a July statement. “Let me be clear, by failing to comply, the President is thwarting Congress’s exercise of its legislative responsibilities.”

Kind has stayed silent on the Ways and Means committee’s sparring with the administration on Trump’s tax returns, and a spokeswoman did not respond to an interview request.

Taxes are not the only aspect of Trump’s financial past to fall under the purview of congressional investigators. Freshman U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which is probing Trump’s personal and business financial records to determine whether he helped Russians and other foreign buyers launder money through his properties.

The panel in April subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Deutsche Bank during an appeals case stemming from that subpoena confirmed it had some of Trump’s tax returns, giving Dems another path to obtain long-sought-after documents. But much like the Ways and Means investigation, the pursuit of Trump’s tax returns by the Financial Services Committee is tied up in court.

Steil has not commented publicly on the Financial Services investigation, and a spokeswoman for the Janesville Republican did not respond to an interview request. But he tweeted from his campaign account on Wednesday calling for Congress to “address real issues, not endless investigations!”

“Rather than focusing on issues important to Americans, many of my Democrat colleagues are pushing impeachment with another attack against @realdonaldtrump,” he wrote.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is also probing Trump’s financial history but is seeking accounting records to corroborate allegations the president committed fraud by misrepresenting his net worth to get loans or to dodge real estate taxes.

Those allegations stem from testimony given before Congress in February by Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty last year to multiple crimes.

The panel — which U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, sits on — has asked the president’s long-time accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over 10 years of Trump Organization records. Committee Chair U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told reporters in April the firm asked the committee for a “friendly” subpoena to formalize the process of complying with the panel’s request.

But like the Ways and Means and Financial Services investigations, the Oversight probe is tied up in court after the president and his legal team sued in order to curb efforts to obtain the documents.

For his part, Grothman has not publicly commented on the Oversight investigation. But he did knock Dem leadership’s decision to press forward with an impeachment inquiry.

In a statement, the Glenbeulah Republican said he believed the communication between Trump and Zelensky was “certainly appropriate, considering the amount of foreign aid Ukraine receives.

“This action by the Democrats is particularly bothersome when we should be focusing on the important business that is before the House,” he added.

Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, and Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, are the only two members of Wisconsin delegation who sit on committees that do not fall outside of Pelosi’s “umbrella.” Pocan serves on the Appropriations Committee, while Gallagher sits on Transportation and Infrastructure and Armed Services committees.

Still, both lawmakers this week expressed opinions on impeachment.

Gallagher in a Wednesday statement knocked Dem House leadership, who he said “rushed to judgment, and called for impeachment before getting all the facts.”

Still, he didn’t come out explicitly against impeachment either, instead calling for “more transparency.”

“Let’s try to ignore all the spin coming from Washington DC and get the full set of facts in front of us,” he said.

Pocan, a longtime impeachment supporter, charged Trump “has violated his oath of office.”

“The president not only broke the law by asking a foreign government to attack a political opponent, threatening foreign aid in the process-but this time he admitted to his actions,” the Town of Vermont Dem said in a statement Tuesday evening. “The time is long overdue for Congress to act on impeachment now.”


Gov. Tony Evers is casting doubt on Foxconn’s ability to create thousands of jobs in the state following a recent visit with company leaders in Japan.

Speaking at a WisPolitics.com luncheon this week, the guv said the state is “trying” to be supportive of the company’s current plans but added “the likelihood that it has a massive number of production workers is very unlikely.”

Evers said the state’s certainty surrounding the project only extends about three or four years.

“After that, they make [business] decisions based on the market,” he said.

The guv met with leaders of the Taiwanese tech company in mid-September during a trade mission to Japan organized by WEDC. He says they confirmed Foxconn’s plans to build a manufacturing site in the Racine area that will produce smaller screens than originally proposed with a less labor-intensive operation.

“I feel that it is going to be open sometime in the near future,” Evers said. “I think the people of Wisconsin get it, that it’s not going to look like it originally was planned. It’s as simple as that, and they have made that clear.”

On the possibility of altering the deal between the state and Foxconn, he said “we’ll take a look at that.”

“They asked for that at one point in time, and so there’s some ideas percolating around. But there’s nothing set on how that will play out,” Evers said.

Foxconn representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Also at the luncheon, Evers explained his decision to appoint Missy Hughes as the new CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., noting her background with Organic Valley demonstrates her leadership capabilities.

“She will do a great job at WEDC; we feel very confident about her ability to deliver,” the guv said.

Hughes worked as general counsel and chief mission officer for the La Farge-based agricultural cooperative, which is now the largest U.S. farmer-owned organic cooperative. Evers noted that Organic Valley started with just “a handful of farmers trying to survive” and has now grown to a billion dollar operation.

“We also have to be sure that we value and ramp up our support around entrepreneurs and startups, and those just starting up new businesses,” he said. “I think most people understand that we’ve not done well in that arena in the past, around startups and entrepreneurs. So I expect Missy will be taking the lead on that.”

He said startups and the entrepreneurs behind them represent “the future of Wisconsin.”

Evers noted his administration has appointed multiple individuals to the WEDC board with startup backgrounds and convinced the agency to create a new committee focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

“So I think you’ll see a lot more activity there,” he said.

Listen to audio from the luncheon here:


Lawmakers often turn to social media to communicate with their constituents.

And they’re increasingly using their office budgets to make sure more people see what they have to say.

Lawmakers spent more than twice as much from their office budgets in the first half of 2019 to promote their social media posts as they did during the same period two years earlier.

Dem Sen. Chris Larson likened the practice to a modern-day version of lawmakers sending constituents newsletters. For one, the Milwaukee Dem said it’s a more cost-effective way of reaching constituents rather than paying for postage. Two, it’s a reflection of how people often get their information from social media such as Facebook.

“You have to evolve with the times,” said the 38-year-old Larson, who joined the Senate in 2011. “You’ve got to go where people are, or they’re not going to see you.”

The records show 19 lawmakers spent $3,208 from their office accounts to boost social media posts between Jan. 1 and June 30. By comparison, just eight spent a combined $1,205 over the first half of 2017, periods when lawmakers were debating a state budget.

The records also show members of the Assembly have been much more likely to utilize the option. Seventeen members of the Assembly — all but two of them Republicans — spent money from their office accounts to boost social media posts on platforms such as Facebook during the first half of this year, compared to two members — both Dems — in the Senate.

Boosting social media is often an approach used by marketers to have sponsored content show up in the timelines of non-followers.

Lawmakers are allowed to maintain state-supported websites as well as social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with constituents.

Assembly members were first allowed to use their office accounts to boost social media posts in the 2013 session. But a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the practice wasn’t widely used until last session, when Facebook implemented new algorithms that dictate what shows up in a user’s news feed. Those changes in 2018 included formulas that promote content that seems relevant to the user rather than prioritizing, for example, what a business sends out.

The Assembly requires reimbursements for promoting social media posts to be approved in advance.

Vos spent $494 to promote his social media posts during the first half of 2019 — the most among members. That included promoting his Facebook page, advertising listening sessions and inviting constituents via video to take a survey on the budget, Beyer said.

Senate leaders, meanwhile, informally agreed to allow members to boost posts as part of the past practice allowing them to use their office accounts for social media, according to the clerk’s office. Prior approval isn’t needed.

Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, listed four expenditures over the first half of 2019 to promote his social media. He said all of the expenses were to promote Facebook posts in “geotargeting” his district.

For example, after Gov. Tony Evers’ budget address, Tusler put together a videotape response that was published to his Facebook page. He then paid to promote the video so it showed up in Facebook feeds for those living in his northeastern Wisconsin district.

With about 57,000 people in the seat, the feedback showed him that 14,700 people with Facebook pages in the district watched the video.

Tusler said the approach is a reflection of the different ways his constituents obtain information compared to years ago, when he said they were corralled toward fewer sources for their news.

“You can reach other people and at least let them know what you’re working on,” Tusler said.


Less than three months after signing a budget that added 517 state positions, Gov. Tony Evers is seeking permission from the Joint Finance Committee to add 55 more full-time equivalents.

The requests from six agencies would add new employees to expand debt collection efforts, help consumers navigate Obamacare and address the expanded workload to enforce alcohol laws.

Of the new request, almost half were already proposed in the budget only to see the Republican-led JFC reject them.

Spokesmen for JFC Co-chairs Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and John Nygren, R-Marinette, said they were considering the requests. Nygren’s office added a number of factors will influence the committee’s review. That includes, for example, the 211 vacancies at the agencies to see if they could fill the jobs that way. Nygren’s office said 40 of those have been vacant for more than six months.

Committee members have until Oct. 11 to raise an objection to the requests, which would trigger a meeting by the full JFC.

The guv’s office didn’t immediately return a call today seeking comment.

Altogether, the six agencies are seeking $4.1 million in program revenue to cover the costs of the positions in 2019-20 with that climbing to $5.2 million the following fiscal year. None of the positions would rely on general purpose revenue for funding.

The largest request is from the Department of Safety and Professional Services, which is seeking 20 positions with $1.4 million in costs in the first year. The agency budget asked lawmakers to approve 20 positions to investigate violations and speed up the time for processing license applications. The Legislature ultimately approved six, and now the agency is backing seeking 20 more.

See the DSPS request:

The other agency requests include:

*two from the Department of Revenue. One would add 15 positions to expand the state’s debt collection program, while the other would add four to help enforce alcohol laws.

See the requests:

*the Department of Financial Institutions seeking nine positions to review banks, mortgage providers, credit unions and securities.

See the request:

*the Insurance Commissioner seeking five positions to help consumers enroll in health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The guv sought 5.1 FTEs in the budget, but JFC removed them from the document. The agency is also asking JFC to release $541,300 in each year of the biennium to expand existing outreach and education activities, especially in rural parts of the state.

See the requests:

*DATCP seeking permission for one position to help carry out the state’s industrial hemp program. The recently signed budget added three positions in the budget to help with the program and reallocated 1.6 FTE.

See the request:

*and the Public Service Commission asking for one new position to support the enhanced Broadband Expansion Grant program. Evers included the position in his budget, but the JFC removed it.

See the request:


Tuesday: Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry executive session on Preston Cole’s appointment as Natural Resources secretary.
– 10 a.m.: 400 Southeast, State Capitol.

Tuesday: Assembly Committee on Agriculture public hearing on a bill regulating hemp.
– 10:30 a.m.: 417 North, State Capitol.

Wednesday: Joint Finance Committee meets, agenda TBD.
– TBD: 412 East, State Capitol.

Thursday: Senate Committee on Insurance, Financial Services, Government Oversight and Courts executive session on the appointment of Mark Afable as insurance commissioner.
– 1 p.m.: 411 South, State Capitol.

(Check local listings for times in your area)

“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features U.S. Rep. GWEN MOORE, D-Milwaukee, and ABC political director RICK KLEIN on the impeachment inquiry, along with WPTZ-TV reporter STEWART LEDBETTER on Burlington, Vt.’s, experience with the F-35 jet that may be coming to Madison.

*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss the special election in the 7th CD, Senate Majority Leader SCOTT FITZGERALD’s tax-cut idea, the recommendations of the Assembly’s suicide prevention panel and what’s ahead in the fall legislative session.

*Watch the show: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/rewind-your-week-in-review-for-sept-27/

Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG speaks with U.S. Rep. MARK POCAN about recent developments involving a whistleblower complaint and an impeachment inquiry into President DONALD TRUMP and with Rep. CHRIS TAYLOR about basing F-35 training flights out of Truax Field in Madison.

“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN speaks with UW-Madison Prof. CHUCK TAYLOR and the subject of his new book, The Rev. CARMEN PORCO.

“Capital City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. Host EMILEE FANNON interviews U.S. Rep. MARK POCAN, D-Town of Vermont; state Sen. PAT TESTIN, R-Stevens Point; and state Rep. JOAN BALLWEG, R-Markesan.

“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two debate the unusual situation of the Republican-controlled Senate so far not approving any of Gov. Tony Evers’ cabinet secretaries.

*Watch the video or listen to the show: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/wisopinion-com-the-insiders-discuss-the-status-of-evers-cabinet-appointments/

Send items to staff@wispolitics.com

Upcoming WisPolitics.com events include:

*The Oct. 9 Midwest Polling Summit at the Madison Club with an array of top pollsters and analysts looking at health care as a top issue, other campaign trends and the future of polling. Sponsors include the Outrider Foundation and the Capital Times, plus the Wisconsin Medical Society, Capitol Consultants, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and UW-Madison. Contact Colin Schmies for more info at schmies@wispolitics.com. Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/midwest-polling-summit-tickets-70140643553

*An Oct. 17 luncheon at UW-Platteville on “Struggles in Wisconsin Farm Country: The trade war, weather, and workforce issues.” It features farm news personality PAM JAHNKE moderating this panel: state Agriculture Secretary BRAD PFAFF; state Rep. TRAVIS TRANEL R-Cuba City; PAUL MITCHELL director, Renk Agribusiness Institute; and ANNA LANDMARK, award-winning cheesemaker and owner of Landmark Creamery, one of the “soil sisters” of southwestern Wisconsin. UW-Platteville Chancellor DENNIS J. SHIELDS will provide introductory remarks.
Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/struggles-in-wisconsin-farm-country-tickets-72401094623

*An Oct. 23 breakfast in DC with U.S. Rep. GWEN MOORE, D-Milwaukee, and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Register: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/oct-23-wispolitics-com-dc-breakfast-with-u-s-rep-gwen-moore/

*An Oct. 24 luncheon at the Madison Club with Senate Majority Leader SCOTT FITZGERALD, who’s a candidate for the 5th CD next year. Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-scott-fitzgerald-tickets-72713557207

*A Nov. 5 luncheon at the Madison Club with LIZ GILBERT, executive director of the local organizing committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-liz-gilbert-tickets-72713892209

U.S. Rep. RON KIND, D-La Crosse, missed today’s roll call vote overturning President DONALD TRUMP’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall to handle a family matter.

Gov. TONY EVERS, U.S. Sen. RON JOHNSON, state Sen. ALBERTA DARLING, Assembly Speaker ROBIN VOS, Assembly Minority Leader GORDON HINTZ and Milwaukee Mayor TOM BARRETT on Sept. 30 are scheduled to join WTMJ’s day-long broadcast from Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. See details: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190927-WTMJ.pdf

KARL ROVE, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for President GEORGE W. BUSH, is scheduled to speak Oct. 22 at the Badger Institute Annual Dinner at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee. See details: https://www.badgerinstitute.org/Events

Rep. AMY LOUDENBECK, R-Clinton, on Sept. 23 was presented with the Wisconsin Counties Association’s 2019 Friend of County Government award. See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190927-Loudenbeck-WCA.pdf

Gov. TONY EVERS has appointed TONY STELLA to the Iron County Circuit Court. Stella previously served as Iron County DA, corporation counsel and attorney for the City of Hurley, Town of Knight, and Town of Carey. He will replace Judge PATRICK MADDEN, who passed away unexpectedly in July.

Evers also appointed AARON MARCOUX to serve as Washburn County District Attorney. Marcoux is currently the assistant district attorney in Washburn County, and will replace ANGELINE WINTON, who Evers appointed to be Washburn County circuit court judge.

SCOTT COENEN of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum has been named one of Energy News Network’s 40 Under 40 leaders in the clean energy economy. See more: https://energynews.us/2019-40under40/

DNR Secretary PRESTON COLE is scheduled to speak at the Climate Fast Forward Conference at Monona Terrace on Nov. 8. See details: https://www.wisconsinacademy.org/node/8288

The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County on Oct. 12 will hold a public forum to express support for abolishing the Electoral College. See details: https://www.lwvmilwaukee.org/abolish-the-electoral-college-10-12

DEBRA JORDAN, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s executive assistant for government affairs, has retired.

Endorsements: The following is a list of recent endorsements made for statewide races, based on emails received by WisPolitics.com:

— 7th CD:

TOM TIFFANY: SHEILA HARSDORF, former DATCP secretary and state senator; and state Reps. SHANNON ZIMMERMAN, R-River Falls, GAE MAGNAFICI, R-Dresser ROB STAFSHOLT, R-New Richmond, and ROMAINE QUINN, R-Barron.

For more Names in the News, see subscriber products from earlier in the week plus the press release page at WisPolitics.com: https://www.wispolitics.com/

For upcoming events, see the “Week Ahead” in this product and in your e-mail Monday morning. Click here for the online calendar: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/events/

If you have a contribution, e-mail staff@wispolitics.com

(from the state Ethics Commission)

Eighteen changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list:

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