Lobbying by Republican lawmakers on behalf of a politically connected sportsmen’s group that received a $500,000 state grant was far greater than previously known, state records show.
Eighteen lawmakers signed on to an Aug. 22 letter urging the state Department of Natural Resources to award the grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, according to the records obtained by the State Journal under the state open records law.
The records also show that when hundreds of emails poured in to the agency in late August and early September opposing the grant amid questions about United Sportsmen’s tax status and qualifications, top DNR officials plowed ahead with the award, saying they had no choice but to follow the budget language inserted by lawmakers. The grant was later rescinded.
And three hours before the grant was awarded on Sept. 3, United Sportsmen’s president acknowledged to DNR executive assistant Scott Gunderson that he incorrectly told the committee considering the grant that the group received tax-exempt status from the IRS as a charitable organization.
The documents also show that Deputy DNR Secretary Matt Moroney spoke at United Sportsmen’s annual banquet and fundraiser May 9 in Madison.Some people might blame Scott Suder for this whole mess. And he definitely played a major role in it. But as the article points out, seventeen other Teapublican legislators played a part in the corruption.
Weeks later, language requiring the agency to award $500,000 to a group to recruit and train people to hunt, fish and trap was inserted by lawmakers into the state’s two-year budget. After the budget was passed, critics charged the criteria were narrowly drawn to exclude every group except United Sportsmen, which ended up being the only bidder.
Among the records was an Aug. 22 letter from 18 GOP members of the Assembly and Senate urging the DNR to award the grant to the group, which had close ties to then-Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization that spent an estimated $3.7 million on behalf of Walker to help him beat back his 2012 recall.
As did Scott Walker, who rewarded Suder for his betrayal of the Wisconsin voters and taxpayers.
And none of the top officers in Walker's DNR - from Cathy "Bambi Killer" Stepp to Matt Moroney - are clean on this bit of political money laundering.
All of this blatant corruption occurring in broad daylight shows that the Teapublicans aren't afraid that they will be held accountable in any way, shape or form. And why should they be?
The top cop in the state, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, is nothing but a political hack with aspirations of being governor some day. If he actually does his job and hold his fellow Republicans accountable for their actions, he could hardly expect their support in the future, even for reelection.
Perhaps the best way to describe the current state of the state government is to paraphrase am old adage and say, "The rats will play while the cops look away."
Since we can't count on our Attorney General to do his job, I would say it's time to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Attorney and have this case investigated by someone who isn't part of the problem.