Thursday, May 24, 2012

CRG: The Depth Of Depravity

My colleague Jeff Simpson has already done a yeoman's job of calling out the utterly misnamed group Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) and their malicious attack on the teachers of Janesville.  As to be expected, I have more to say on that subject.  But first, I want to share with you exactly who these cretinous miscreants are.

CRG is basically a two man operation.  The leaders are a real odd couple, Chris Kliesmet and Orville Seymer.

Kliesmet is a diminutive man, both physically and emotionally.  Kliesmet is always seen in an oversized suit, and would make the perfect stereotypical bookkeeper.  Although he is always claiming poverty, he lives in Bayside, one of the wealthiest communities in Milwaukee County.

His partner, Seymer, is the exact opposite.  He is a large, brutish man who is always unkempt, grungy and greasy.  Like his partner, he is always claiming poverty, but owns several rental properties, but doesn't invest too much time or money into upkeep, judging from the lawsuits and complaints.

As the gentle reader probably has already surmised, they are Scott Walker's personal thug enforcers.  When there is dirty work to be done, Walker whistles and these two wretched hounds come running.
Orville "Pretty Boy" Seymer

CRG first came on the scene in 2002, when the news broke of a pension scheme devised by then Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament.  CRG stepped up and, with the help of radio squawkers Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner, were able to fan the flames of anger to a point just short of breaking out torches and pitchforks, and started a recall against Ament and several county board supervisors.

After they got Walker was ensconced as county executive, he tried to pay them back by giving them office space in the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Yes, you read that correctly.  He offered this right wing nut job group, the precursor to the teahadists, an office in a public building. This move was shot down by the board due to it being illegal, but word is they still got one on the sly.

After that, CRG became Walker's enforcers.  When it came to be time to vote on one of Walker's draconian budgets or some other act of malfeasance, CRG would start threatening progressive supervisors who might oppose his cuts to staff and service with a recall, regardless of how unlikely they were going to be successful.  However, outside of those very first ones, they were never successful and became the laughing stocks of  Milwaukee County.

However, their interest in Walker and his career was never very altruistic or very interested in having a responsible government.  Via former County Board Supervisor Jim McGuigan, we catch this missive from George Stanley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to Kliesmet who was upset about an article written about his corruption being exposed:

Cary Spivak and Dan Bice have very detailed notes from a July interview and a second interview on Tuesday in which you talk quite openly about making money as a Six Sigma adviser to other government entities. Here are just a few examples of things you said to them: 
"Yeah, I might be inclined to sell my services to those people (you were talking about other governments contacting you about Six Sigma services)
"Loss leader " that's a good way to put it (you were talking about your work at no charge for Milwaukee County and later getting business from others) 
"Could I make a dollar on it in the future? I guess the answer is true. 
"I have no intention at this point of starting a company and doing this. But If somebody came to me and made me a better offer, of course I would." 
"I'm also a capitalist. I don't have any altruistic motives toward San Diego or any other place." 
Given your openness about how your Six Sigma work for the county could lead to business with other government units, I see nothing inaccurate about today's Spivak & Bice column.
When you lobby government officials, pressure them with your clout as a citizen organizer, and mention possible business dealings with them, you should not be surprised that this newspaper will watch you with the same scrutiny as we do others who lobby and do business with government officials spending taxpayers' money. 
We will continue to watch your actions in the future.

Chris "Macho Man" Kliesmet
Unfortunately, Stanley's threat was not to be and the corporate media giant started to actually use CRG as a credible authority despite their knowledge of CRG's corrupt nature.

Over the next few years, they tried to expand their reach across the state. They launched one failed recall attempt after another against politicians in all corners of the state, including too laughable attempts to recall then Governor Jim Doyle.

In 2010, they chose to go after someone other than county supervisors.  Just a few weeks after Darlene Wink was caught leaving comments on JSOnline and other blogs and Tim Russell was taped doing campaign work during county time as a county employee, CRG filed a criminal complaint against yours truly. Using falsified data to prop up their false accusations, they claimed I was blogging on county time using county equipment.

Only thing is, I wasn't.

The Bloggerati stepped up to defend me, pointing out that the days CRG used in their attacks were vacation days, furlough days and {gasp} major holidays.* How dare I use my off time as I see fit!  Obviously, I had to be punished! (Or at least used as a foil in an effort to take people's attention to the real criminals.)

Interestingly, to this date, this group, which claims to be watchdogs of the government, has never said one thing regarding the ongoing Walkergate scandal, which is the ultimate waste of taxpayer dollars.

Many have also wondered about where CRG was getting all there money from.  After all, running all these recall attempts and doing literally hundreds if not thousands of open record requests costs quite a bit of cash.  And like I said, the only people that appear in charge of their mayhem is this unlikely Mutt and Jeff duo.

Well, thanks to their malevolent attack on the Janesville teachers, people like karoli at Crooks & Liars started looking at this group.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that they've gotten a large amount of cash from groups like the Koch-funded Club for Growth, as well as American Majority and the Sam Adams Alliance.

And to show off their hypocrisy, they've failed to follow tax laws in their filings:

That grant to CRG was for $126,500. It was, according to the Club for Growth return, all paid in 2009. The identification number on the postcard filing matches the identification number on the Club for Growth filing. 
CRG filed a postcard return with the IRS for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2009, just as it had for 2008, 2010, and 2011. There are special rules connected with the postcard filing. For example, an organization could receive more than $50,000 in one year, (the usual threshold for the postcard filing) and still file via postcard as long as their average receipts were less than $50,000 over a three-year period. 
Let's see if they qualified. In 2007, CRG received 40,959. In 2009, CRG received at least $126,500. Assuming no receipts in 2008, the average receipts comes out to $55,819.67, which exceeds the permissible threshold for filing an information-free return. Oops! 
Why is this important? It's important because it seems clear that the Wisconsin Club for Growth used CRG and other allied right wing groups as funnels and fronts to avoid accountability for purely evil acts like publishing an enemies list of public school teachers, for example. It's important because there might have been at least a shred of accountability for their prior bad acts. And yes, there have been many
Well, that's not very responsible now, is it? Maybe we should start a group called Citizens for Responsible CRG.

Their hypocrisy and their depravity really show when it comes to their attacks on the Janesville teachers.  As noted before, they stuck their attack fliers in the boxes for the Janesville Gazette, which is stomping mad that they've been made to look like they were the ones that put them with their paper.  (Judging from the fact that they regularly print the tripe from Kevin Binversie of another Koch front group, Wisconsin Reporter, the assumption appears to be a natural mistake.)

I have learned that since the Gazette ran the story Wednesday morning in which CRG was outed as the cravenly culprits behind this malicious attack, Kliesmet has been crying the blues to whoever will listen that people have been calling him to ream him out.

He is so upset about finally being held accountable for his actions that he is threatening to sue the paper for connecting him and his group to the fliers, even though it was his group that did the open records request and gathered all the information.

Even more incredulous is the fact that Kliesmet has been saying that they wouldn't have had to do that if it wasn't for the recalls.  This coming from the King of the Recalls.  Can you say "hypocrite?"

But that could be the least of CRG's concerns.

I believe that they might have broken the law with their little escapade.

While it is true that the names and salaries of the teachers are public record, their malfeasance didn't end with their McCarthy-esque use of this data by printing it out and shoving it in people's paper boxes.

On the flier, they said people should look for the names of their children's teachers on verifytherecall dot com.  And then they included this portion:

click on image to embiggen
With this attachment, they are calling teachers that signed the recall petition "radicals" and are urging parents to disrupt their work by asking their children to be removed from their classrooms. And that's where the rub comes in.

Civil service codes state that public employees cannot be punished or harassed for partaking of political activities, joining a political party or any other group on their own time.  Yet this is exactly what CRG did.

If I were the teachers, I would get in touch with an attorney who specializes in labor law and/or civil rights and see if they got a case.  Hell, just the discoveries that CRG would have to go through would be worth it, as they have to reveal the other culprits who joined in this act are, as well as who ordered it and who bankrolled it.

Then Kliesmet and Seymer can finally learn what being responsible is really all about.

*The legal bills which I accrued (and am still paying off) and lost time at work to deal with their smear job have totaled over $4,000.  Who said that Freedom of Speech is free?  Anyway, if the gentle reader would like to help me with my legal costs, they can donate to the capper defense fund by clicking here or on the button to the upper right side.


  1. Very interesting!
    Since there is CRG and Northern CRG (Shirl Labarre), are there other CRG affiliates that you know of?

  2. WEAC should have lawyers that could start the process.

  3. I don't think it is civil to focus on the physical appearance of Chris Kliesmet and Orville Seymer. They can be responsible for their actions and accountable for their opinions, but they merely inherited most of their bodily appearance. Certainly you didn't appreciate the RDW/BB jibes about the size of your gut and that it was evidence you were an overfed public employee. Choice of suit or t-shirt or facial hair is another subject.

    What civil service codes? Who is not allowed to do the harassing, and what constitutes harassment?

  4. Wasn't there some language in the flyer that referred to the teachers as Marxist radicals? Wouldn't that be cause for a defamation suit?

    The Janesville Gazette might consider going after them for placing their filth in the newspaper's boxes, thus creating the impression that the Gazette was cooperating in the smear job. My membory is a bit foggy on this, but I believe there is a legal precedent in which a weekly Shopper was nailed for placing their publication in another newspaper's box.

    CRG definitely needs to be audited by the IRS. I hope they have all their records in order.

    A search on Wisconsin Circuit Court Access also produces a lengthy list of former tenants of Seymer's who might have some interesting anecdotes about the conditions in his apartments. City building inpectors may also have a collection of complaints. These are open records after all.

  5. Maybe its time to play their game.....I looked him up a few days ago on CCAP..that POS is probably a slum lord...lets play in his closet for awhile. I just know his closet smells like mothballs, stale candy and desperation.

    1. Wisconsin has many landlords which border on the edge of "slum lords."

      From college student housing owned by people in other states, people who will never put any upkeep money into these questionable places.

      To older, larger Wisconsin cities, from Milwaukee to Superior, as our elder generations pass they leave behind older homes. Homes that are small and not in ideal locations anymore.
      With the recent hot housing market, everyone built bigger and better, leaving these homes open for the opportunity of Wisconsin Slum Lords to rent out to workers.

      "income opportunity," at the expense of borderline exploitation of a working class people and their families.

    2. this guy?

  6. You're using the word "incredulous" when you mean "incredible".

    For example, in this sentence: "Even more incredulous is the fact that Kliesmet has been saying that they wouldn't have had to do that if it wasn't for the recalls."

    Also, you're missing a key point when it comes to this sentence: "...public employees cannot be punished or activities, joining a political party or any other group on their own time."

    The key point is, "Who does that law apply to?" The answer is that it applies to their employer. Their employer (a city, a school district, etc.) cannot harrass them for their political activities.

    However, private citizens can complain about the (private) political behavior of civil servants until the cows come home.

  7. "The key point is, 'Who does that apply to?' The answer is that it applies to their employer." Awkward. Tone--snotty. Try using your own (obviously questionable) proofreading and editing skills on your own writing.

  8. I doubt that their list is accurate, guessing that they used the error riddled "Verify the Recall". Someone who is listed and did not sign the recall papers should sue.

  9. I think their appearance can be considered public knowledge so why not advertise it.

  10. There is also a CRG in Racine, headed up by Ken Brown who illegally lives in his ground level storefront on Main Street. Not so big on following the law, these ones.