Editorial: It's time to stop mingling politics, state business
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation reveals a flaw in the system that helps lawmakers meet living expenses while working in Madison. A comparison of campaign finance reports and state per diem claims shows that while some lawmakers were co...
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation reveals a flaw in the system that helps lawmakers meet living expenses while working in Madison.
A comparison of campaign finance reports and state per diem claims shows that while some lawmakers were collecting daily expenses from the state while in Madison, they also used campaign money the same day to cover political expenses.
Most legislators, the Journal Sentinel found, resisted the urge to double-dip -- use campaign funds for the same kinds of expenses the per diem covers for working at the Capitol.
However, a handful of legislators, including Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, were pinched in the investigation -- dipping into both pots of money.
In some cases, legislators restored the state for the per diem. One had the decency to be embarrassed when they learned what the newspaper uncovered. Still others, like Jauch, argue the expenses were legitimate and there are no clear guidelines.
We're not disputing what is legitimate, but there should be clear guidelines. After all, former lawmakers Chuck Chvala and Scott Jensen were prosecuted for mingling politics with state time.
This certainly gives the appearance that there is mingling going on. It's an issue of ethics, even if not illegal.
It also underscores the need for reform -- both of campaign finance regulations and the state's per diem system, paid for by taxpayers.
Legislators already earn better-than-average compensation when compared with the people who pay their salaries -- the residents of Wisconsin.
Expecting the legislature to develop some clear guidelines that would prohibit them from using campaign finances for political expenses on days they are collecting money for working at the Capitol should be a no-brainer.
If legislators can't accomplish the task, perhaps a panel of citizens could be appointed to craft the solution.