This is a press release from Wisconsin Rep. Jorgensen’s office dated 2/22/2012.
Ever notice how, when children do something they know they shouldn’t do, it gets awfully quiet?
Of course, this is normal. It’s human nature. When you have something to hide or feel ashamed, you keep your mouth shut.
I’ve been wondering if my Republican colleagues felt shame, when they sat in an off-site meeting, discussing redistricting plans with private attorneys. I wonder if they felt shame in using their power – and taxpayers’ money – to secure their own political futures with a “fixed” map.
The Republicans must have felt they had something to hide, or they wouldn’t have promised to keep quiet. In signed legal documents, nearly every Republican lawmaker pledged “not to disclose the fact and/or contents” of redistricting talks.
I want to believe some of them didn’t read the fine print. But, in the wake of this scandal, many Republicans have gone on the defensive. Like small children caught with hands in the cookie jar – now unable to remain silent – they’re trying to talk their way out of the mess.
Rep. Steve Nass went into spin mode, calling the pledge, “similar to the legislative process. You don’t go around publicly discussing bills when they are still in draft form.” But, Nass knows we talk about drafts all the time! And, he didn’t seem to have a problem when the map “in draft form” was shared with former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, the man infamously embroiled in a scandal for directing aides to do campaign work on state time, who is now a political advisor to a voucher school group that contributes heavily to Republican campaigns.
Rep. Evan Wynn recently had the audacity to say this of the pledge: “It had nothing to do with secrecy. It was very much like the process we go through when we are developing legislation.” While Wynn might get a gold star from Republican leaders for using their talking points, I don’t think the average person will be impressed. Way back in grade school, we all learned how a bill becomes a law – and confidentiality agreements aren’t part of the legislative process.
While we’re getting our facts straight, let me also tell you this: I have not and will not ever sign a secrecy pledge. I did, however, take a very public pledge – the oath of office. In that, legislators swear to fulfill their duties and promise to uphold the Constitution, which demands a level of openness in state government. Maybe that’s why judges reviewing redistricting plans had these harsh words for Republicans last week: “What could have – indeed should have – been accomplished publicly, instead took place in private, in an all but shameful attempt to hide the redistricting process from public scrutiny.” We teach our children, when they’ve done something shameful, they should ‘fess up and make amends. The federal court has made confession unnecessary. But, Republicans should still try to make things right on redistricting. If they don’t, they may find voters less than forgiving, come November.
This is a press release from Wisconsin Rep. Jorgensen’s office.
Contact: Rebekah Sweeney,(608) 266-3790
One thought on “WI GOP secrecy agreements: “Republicans must have felt they had something to hide, or they wouldn’t have promised to keep quiet.”-Rep. Jorgensen”
Very well said. May this act of honesty and of Not Taking This Crap Anymore by a Republican be just the beginning of a turning tide. (I can dream.) Good for Rep. Jorgensen.