MON PM Update: Vos rounds out office staff with 14 now under his direction

Exclusively for WisPolitics Subscribers

From …

— Assembly Speaker Robin Vos added two new staffers last month, filling the last of the 14 positions he put under his authority for the session.

The additions of Julie Lund and Ashley Luke have pushed Vos’ payroll to more than $975,000 for staffers either working directly for him in the speaker’s office or under his guidance through the Chief Clerk’s office.

The speaker’s staff is more than twice the size of Minority Leader Gordon Hintz’s. The Oshkosh Dem has six people under his direction, including five in his office and one working out of the chief clerk’s office at his direction. Altogether, their salaries total $415,601.

As he did when the moves first became public, Hintz questioned Vos’ need to staff up with a smaller majority than Republicans had last session after losing one seat in the November elections.

“Anytime you see a doubling of staff in response to a change in the executive branch despite having a smaller majority, it raises questions,” Hintz said.

Vos earlier this year added seven new staff positions to his office, pulling in positions from the chief clerk and sergeant at arms’ offices. That included five positions that were vacant at the time and two in the chief clerk’s office that were already working at his direction.

Asked about the latest hires, a Vos spokeswoman referred to the speaker’s comments in January, when he said the move didn’t increase the number of positions, but more accurately reflected what they were doing.

Lund, a former TV reporter and anchor, served as Gov. Scott Walker’s deputy communications director before moving to the Department of Health Services, where she was communications director. In her new role, Lund will work with outstate media and Assembly GOP members on their communications, a Vos spokeswoman said.

Luke is a legislative assistant. That post was previously filled by Moriah Thiry, who has been promoted to a policy adviser position, which has a higher salary range than the LA position.

Staffing and office space have been a point of contention between Vos and Hintz since the session began. Despite gaining a seat in last fall’s elections, Dems are sharing more offices in the 2019-20 session than they did in the last one. The current GOP majority is 63-35 with one vacancy after Dem Peter Barca resigned to join the Evers administration.

Vos’ office said it offered Hintz room 121 West but was turned down. At the time, Vos’ office said the room, which housed GOP Rep. Chuck Wichers last session, would be used as storage if Dems didn’t want it for one of their members. But the name of Gary Vossekuil, a graphic artist working for Assembly Republicans out of the clerk’s office, is now listed on the door.

Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer said it was decided to move Vossekuil to the Capitol from the Risser Building after Dems declined to take that space for a member.

Hintz said his caucus was only offered the office if Vos was allowed to pick which Dem member could use it. He said the terms were unacceptable.

— The Joint Finance Committee plans to begin voting next week on the 2019-21 state budget, according to the office of Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

That’s a little later start than in 2017, when the committee’s first votes were May 1.

A Darling spokesman said the committee is targeting May 9 for the first votes.

— The state received $76.7 million more in federal transportation funds than expected in the current fiscal year and wants to put more than half of that into highway rehabilitation, according to a plan DOT sent to the Joint Finance Committee.

A DOT spokeswoman said details weren’t available yet on which additional projects the agency would advance if JFC approves the proposal to put $43 million more into highway rehabilitation.

The state announced last fall that it had received $90.8 million through a redistribution program for unused federal funds. Last month, it was notified of an additional $52.4 million in supplemental federal funds. Both were more than the state had budgeted, triggering a requirement to submit a plan to JFC on how it wants to spend the money.

The DOT is also proposing:

*putting $24.7 million into local road improvements eligible for federal aid;
*$5 million into highway system and operations for six federally eligible projects that include replacing traffic signs, sign bridges and pavement marking;
*$4 million into routine maintenance, including pavement marking in 25 counties.

The Joint Finance Committee has until May 10 to meet and approve or modify the plan. If it doesn’t meet by then, the plan would be approved as proposed.

Read the DOT letter to JFC:

— Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky tells she’s planning to run for the state Supreme Court in 2020.

“I am organizing a team, and I will have an announcement in the coming weeks,” she wrote in an email today.

Karofsky won an open seat on the Dane County bench in 2017.

Before that, she worked as an assistant and deputy district attorney in the Dane County DA’s Office from 1992 to 2001. She then worked for the National Conference of Bar Examiners before joining the state Department of Justice, where her work included serving as the violence against women prosecutor and leading the Office of Crime Victim Services.

Already, Marquette Law School Prof. Ed Fallone has announced plans to run for the state Supreme Court next year, when conservative Justice Daniel Kelly is up for a full 10-year term.

Fallone said today’s he’s planning a formal launch and has brought in Christopher Mills to serve as his finance director.

Mills is president of Six Degree Consulting and worked as the finance director with Dem Dana Wachs’ guv campaign last year before moving to a similar role with Tony Evers.

Others who have been mentioned as possible candidates include Appeals Court Judge Michael Fitzpatrick and former U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle. Neither returned messages from today seeking updates on whether they are planning to run.

— Gov. Tony Evers today announced three appointments to the UW System Board of Regents.

The appointments named today are set to replace current Regent President John Behling, Regent Regina Millner and student Regent Ryan Ring, whose terms are set to expire in May.

They will be replaced by Karen Walsh and Edmund Manydeeds III, who are set to serve seven-year terms, and UW-La Crosse student Olivia Woodmansee, who will serve a two-year term.

Manydeeds, an Eau Claire attorney and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, served as a regent from 2010-17.

Walsh is a former journalist who has worked in various roles at UW-Madison over the course of a more than 20-year career.

The move comes after Evers rescinded a number of appointments, including Regents Scott Beightol and Torrey Tiedeman, after a Dane County judge ruled appointments made during last December’s extraordinary session were unconstitutional.

Ahead of the last Board of Regents meeting, Behling said he believed the appeals court’s stay of that decision meant Beightol and Tiedeman were back in their posts. Both regents were present at the last meeting after Behling encouraged them to attend.

See the release:

— Conservative activist Candace Owens will speak to a private reception May 17 during the GOP state convention in Oshkosh, a party spokesman said.

Owens, the communications director for the pro-Trump group Turing Point USA, has gained fame as a leader of “Blexit,” an effort to persuade African Americans to leave the Dem Party. She’s also drawn controversy for various remarks, including about Adolph Hitler.

She will speak at the hospitality suite hosted by the Wisconsin Young Republicans, the Winnebago County GOP and Darryl Carlson, who serves on the state party Executive Board as the 6th CD chair, a state party spokesman said. The event will be closed to the media.

— Alex Walker, son of the former guv, announced today he’s joining Turning Point USA.

Walker most recently worked as an account representative at Uline, according to his LinkedIn page. He also previously worked on GOP U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir’s campaign as deputy political director. He graduated from UW-Madison in May 2017.

See his tweet announcing the move:

— GOP lawmakers are appealing a federal judge’s rejection of their request to intervene in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenging Wisconsin law that only allows doctors to perform an abortion.

Republicans sought to join the case, arguing Dem AG Josh Kaul wouldn’t adequately defend the laws. But U.S. Judge William Conley rejected the request, ruling the lawmakers hadn’t met the burden to support their concerns about Kaul’s representation of the state on the matter. He also added allowing lawmakers to intervene would needlessly complicate the case.

The Legislature today filed notice with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals of its intention to appeal the ruling.

The appeal also could impact the cost to taxpayers for the outside counsel GOP lawmakers hired in the suit. The contract with the Virginia law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park included two caps on the expected legal fees. If the court denied the Legislature’s motion to intervene, the costs would go no higher than $100,000. But if the motion had been granted, they could climb as high as $500,000.

Through the end of March, the lawyers had submitted invoices totaling $28,375, according to bills obtained through an open records request.

Meanwhile, the trial in the case has been set for December 2020.

See the notice of appeal:

See the scheduling order:

— Alan Yeung, Foxconn’s director for U.S. strategic initiatives, attended President Trump’s rally in Green Bay, the company confirmed.

But a source said Yeung didn’t meet with the president while Trump was in Green Bay.

During his Saturday rally, Trump didn’t mention the Foxconn plant in Racine County, which he once proclaimed would be “the eight wonder of the world.”

Yeung often uses his Twitter feed to promote the company’s work in Wisconsin but didn’t tweet from the president’s rally.

See his Twitter feed:

— The State Treasurer’s office has revamped its website with a new page featuring an infographic guide to the state budget process and a sample advocacy letter to be sent to lawmakers in support of the Treasurer’s budget.

The letter comes attached to infographics highlighting the role that State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski plays in a number of policy areas, including the environment, education, retirement and student loan debt.

The letter highlights last spring’s defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have eliminated the office, and calls on lawmakers to “to support the Treasurer’s budget request so the office can fulfill its statutory requirements and the will of the people.”

According to a State Treasurer spokeswoman, the Treasurer’s office had been circulating the letter as a paper copy for some time, but it was added to the website ahead of tonight’s deadline to submit public comment on the budget.

See the updated page:


AB 194: Requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher. Referred to Committee on Education.

AB 195: A license to teach based on reciprocity and granting rule-making authority. Referred to Committee on Education.

AB 196: School district sparsity aid and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Education.

AJR 33: Proclaiming May as Lupus Awareness Month in Wisconsin. Referred to Committee on Rules.

Track bills for free:

State Journal: Gov. Tony Evers appoints first set of people to UW System Board of Regents

State Journal: Report: Watchdogs not looking hard enough for public health hazards in lakes, fish

Tomah Journal: Groundbreaking held for Tomah VA golf course in honor of Marine who died of overdose there

WPR: While Advocates Push For Criminal Justice Reform, State Officials Urge Patience

AP: Evers appoints UW regent replacements

AP: Wisconsin health officials lack data on abortion survivals

Journal Sentinel: One in four Wisconsin jobs at high risk in a new age of robotic workers and hyper-automation

CNN: Trump goes after Biden — and against advisers’ advice

CNN: Trump accuses New York attorney general of illegally investigating NRA

CNN: Trump’s statement on abortion, in context

Politico: ‘I Want Him on Everything’: Meet the Woman Behind the Buttigieg Media Frenzy

Politico: Biden: Pennsylvania is key to defeating Trump

Politico: House Democrats set the stage for a Barr standoff

NBC News: Beto O’Rourke releases $5 trillion plan to combat climate crisis


– 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Wisconsin School of Business, SBDC: Digital marketing and social media conference.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics informational hearing. Members are to hear from Wisconsin Ethics Commission Administrator Daniel Carlton Jr.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics public hearing on AB 38, relating to University of Wisconsin research contracts.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Agriculture public hearing on Clearinghouse Rule 17-073, relating to food processing plants, and affecting small business.

– 10 a.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy public hearing on SB 169, relating to wetland mitigation banks; and SB 31, relating to permit fees for concentrated animal feeding operations.

– 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Press Club: Newsmaker Luncheon with Gov. Tony Evers.

– 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Milwaukee Rotary Club. Guest speaker is Wisconsin Policy Forum President Rob Henken. Rotary meetings are open to members, invited guests and media.

– 12 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care executive session on SB 76, relating to hours of instructional program for nurse aides.

– 3 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5 p.m.: UW-Madison Global Health Institute: “The changing face of emergency care: People, policy, politics.” Speaker is GHI Associate Director Janis Tupesis.

All rights reserved. Reproduction or retransmission of this publication, in whole or in part, without the express permission of is prohibited. Unauthorized reproduction violates United States copyright law (17 USC 101 et seq.), as does retransmission by facsimile or any other electronic means, including electronic mail.