Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Darling and Nygren put Wisconsin up for sale during campaign event

Fundraising during budget consideration seen as huge conflict of interest

UPDATE: Sen. Alberta Darling has now canceled the event. Read more at the Cap Times.

Original Post:

Every two years, lawmakers in Wisconsin put together the largest piece of legislation that will be seen for the remainder of that cycle: the state budget.

With a myriad of funding proposals being considered for the budget, it’s imperative for lawmakers to at least appear neutral when it comes to special favors being placed in the bill. And so, it has been tradition in the state to tone down campaign fundraising while legislators consider the all-important budget.

For State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), that tradition must seem silly -- so they're ignoring it altogether.

The two plan to hold a fundraiser Thursday to raise money for Darling’s campaign committee, Friends of Alberta Darling.

The event costs $500 a person ($1,000 to reach the “Host” level), just steps away from the state Capitol building.

In wake of the WEDC scandal, where millions of dollars have gone unaccounted for, and a $500,000 loan may have been granted inappropriately to a campaign donor to Gov. Scott Walker, the Darling fundraiser raises not only funds, but also doubts about the ability of the legislator to make the tough choices she’ll be facing when she considers the budget.

How can you say no, for example, to a patron who donates to your campaign, when they ask for a line in the budget benefiting their business to be considered?

As the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, which operates “to serve as the principal legislative committee charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues,” both Darling and Nygren should know better.

It’s a shame that Wisconsin appears to be for sale during this final month of budget proceedings.

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