The Contrarian

The Double Standard of Duey Stroebel

He attacks Evers appointee while ignoring “Ethical Baggage” of 13 Walker appointees.

By - Jan 17th, 2019 11:45 am
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Duey Stroebel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2013-14.

Duey Stroebel. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2013-14.

Was Scott Walker’s administration weighted down with “ethical baggage”?

Applying the apparent standard of state Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Sauville), the answer is “yes.” At least 13 times.

Senator Stroebel believes that Craig Thompson, Gov. Tony Evers’ nominee for Secretary of Transportation, is “burdened with ethical baggage” for having lobbied for an organization involved in the transportation industry. The senator called it unwise to name someone “paid…to lobby” for transportation firms as head of the Department of Transportation. In Senator Stroebel’s view, Governor Evers has “taint[ed] the debate over transportation and public infrastructure by injecting [an] ethically charged political appointment into the discussion.”

At least 13 high level Walker appointees previously were registered as lobbyists — “paid to lobby” — with the state’s Ethics Commission (see table below). When considering the Stroebel Standard, consider this partial list of names:

Jay Risch represented the Wisconsin Bankers Association before becoming Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions.

Daniel Schwartzer represented the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters before serving as Deputy Insurance Commissioner.  (His boss, Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel, previously was director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs for Church Mutual Insurance.)

Rick Chandler represented WE Energies and Wisconsin Realtors Association (two players with more than a passing interesting in tax policy) before becoming Secretary of Revenue,

Ellen Nowak and Scott Neitzel represented, respectively, voucher schools and a major private utility before heading the powerful Department of Administration. DOA has direct and indirect oversight over almost every nook and cranny of state government. It prepares the governor’s proposed budget.

Thomas Engels represented the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin before serving as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health.

And on it goes.

State law specifies a wide range of regulations involving registered lobbyists. I am aware of no evidence that Craig Thompson, Evers’ WIDOT nominee, ever violated the lobbying law

State law includes a code of ethical conduct for public officials. As Thompson has been secretary-designate for less than a month, there obviously is no known evidence of him having violated this ethical code.

So, what, exactly, does it mean to be “ethically charged” or to carry “ethical baggage”? Call me old-fashioned, but accusing someone of being unethical is serious. Especially so when the accuser is a duly elected state senator empowered with a vote to confirm a cabinet secretary.

If Senator Stroebel has evidence of unethical conduct on Thompson’s part he should take it to the State Ethics Commission. If not, he should do the honorable thing and withdraw the accusation.

As for the lobbyists who held high posts in the Walker Administration, did they take office with “ethical baggage”? Were their appointments “tainted”? I know of nothing that remotely would justify such claims. I’m unaware of Senator Stroebel having applied to them the ambiguous and defamatory test he now applies to Thompson.

Rather than disagree with views Thompson has long advocated as a respected lobbyist, Senator Stroebel instead criticizes Thompson’s legal advocacy for his views. In so doing, it is Senator Stroebel — not Evers or Thompson — who “taints” the debate.

Name Office Department/Agency
Chandler, Richard Secretary Revenue, Department of
Engels, Thomas Deputy Secretary Health Services, Department of
Johns, Jason Deputy Secretary Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Department of
Lyon, Jeff Deputy Secretary Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
Moroney, Matt Deputy Secretary Natural Resources, Department of
Neitzel, Scott Secretary Administration, Department of
Nowak, Ellen Chairperson;

Secretary

Public Service Commission; Department of Administraton
Risch, Jay Secretary Financial Institutions, Department of
Riske, Laura Assistant Deputy Secretary Health Services, Department of
Schimming, Brian WHEDA COO Housing & Economic Development Authority, Wisconsin (WHEDA)
Schwartzer, Dan Deputy Commissioner Insurance, Office of Commissioner of
Seitz, Bob Deputy Secretary Transportation, Department of
Wendle, William Deputy Secretary Safety and Professional Services, Department of

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