This is a guest post by Bruce N. I’ve seen Bruce protesting in snow, sleet, rain, and sweltering sun at the Capitol building. If you want to learn about how to do a marathon protest, Bruce is your go-to man. He had an unusual conversation with the Wisconsin Senate’s Scott Fitzgerald today.
One hour and 45 minutes ago I was jauntily completing my daily citizen’s duty – 198 straight days sign-protesting at Capitol Square. I’m an unpaid, non-union, average guy who, like many Wisconsinites, has been slapped in the face by an internal coup d’tat of Wisconsin representative government in February. I like to call it “Walker’s St. Valentine’s Revolution.”
In response, I try to make a small contribution, a fresh and topical sign every day, that keeps the issues on the minds of those who haunt the capitol. A presence, a stand-in for all those who can’t make it every day.
Today’s sign-bite Reeled In A Big Fish. It read:
J. Fitzgerald’s lobbying org’s (ALEC) membership paid by WI taxpayers.
(ALEC, of course, refers to the ubiquitous but largely unknown American Legislative Exchange Council. Go to ALECEXPOSED.ORG)
So, back to the story. Who should I run into today but our jovial, red-faced WI Senate Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff’s brother, and two of his cohorts.
I held up my sign directly in front of them and they dutifully read it. Following which, I politely (not always my M.O.) said to them, “That’s illegal, you know!”
Senator Fitzgerald answered without pause, “Yes, Sir!” He smiled broadly, as did I before turning my back and leaving.
What the senator meant by his retort is anyone’s guess. Could it be that he agreed with the sign’s implication of illegal use of funds and was showing the extreme hubris so common these days among the GOP? Or, was it a clumsy, off-the-cuff bit of Irish humor. I’m not writing with the purpose of intuiting personal intent. I’m reporting what I saw and heard verbatim and you be the judge.
The story beneath this chance meeting is instructive. The putative Republican candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat, Jeff Fitzgerald, used Wisconsin taxpayer money to become a member of ALEC. That may be illegal. The Assembly leader also accepted a suspect donation of $1,329 from ALEC.
The main revelation about ALEC is that it secretly gathers together 2,000 state legislators, including our own, along with 300 corporate representatives to draft and vote on so-called “model legislation” that is then trotted back to state capitols, including Madison, for use in GOP legislative agendas. ATTENTION: our supposed representative government is being run from outside the state, especially by CORPORATIONS.
Among ALEC’s members are 33 WI Assembly representatives and 15 WI Senators – all Republican. If you check Wisconsin legislation you’ll find a remarkable similarity to ALEC models. How else, barring pre-knowledge of Scott Walker’s election, could the revolutionary putsch of our government have put together a voluminous set of prepackaged bills in such a short period of time. The only answer is that between the November, 2010 election and the January 3, 2011 inauguration they already had them in their back pocket.
ALEC claims they are not a lobbying organization. But, if writing bills for states and allowing corporations to vote on “model legislation” along with wining and dining WI legislators is not lobbying what is? ALEC has made old-fashioned lobbying in smoke-filled rooms look like stone tools.
It is important to know that Wisconsin makes it illegal for their legislators to use taxpayer money for membership in lobbying organizations.
I suppose a demand to make ALEC identify itself as a registered lobbying group would require a court case. I am not a lawyer and do not have the money to mount such an endeavor, but until somebody does what can we do? We can shout to the rooftops that the Republicans are set to run a man for the U.S. Senate who, if he has not blatantly broken the law, has committed ethical malfeasance and severely jeopardized representative democracy in Wisconsin.
Keep your spirit. Settle in for a long fight. Politics and citizen protection of Democracy is an endurance activity.
And now for a brief flashback, this is a video I did of Bruce at day number 94 of his protest. The video cuts to the part where he explains why he’s friendly with everybody, even the Republican legislators: