James Rowen
Op Ed

Gerrymandering Costs Taxpayers Millions

Republicans' legal bill for redistricting federal judge declared unconstitutional hits $3.5 million.

By - Jan 23rd, 2019 12:35 pm
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Robin Vos

Robin Vos

The Wisconsin GOP’s principles include “sound money management should be our goal,” but its legislative leadership is spending money on itself like it won the lottery.

Self-anointed shadow Wisconsin Governor and ‘man slapped silly by the same Federal judge twice’ Robin Vos just revealed under pressure the $840,000 contract he approved for a Chicago law firm to fight for a partisan gerrymandering plan already ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

Recall that Legislative Republicans had already spent more than $2 million in state funds to write their plan in secret, as I’ve previously written:

It has become known that redistricting work took place, though publicly-funded, in private attorneys’ offices near the State Capitol into which GOP legislative leaders’ staffers were moved, and Republican legislators who were invited to those offices to review maps and boundaries proposed for their districts had to sign agreements requiring them to keep quiet about what they’d seen seen.

The Journal Sentinel now computes all the costs of redistricting litigation to state taxpayers at $3.5 million, which must be why the GOP’s principles said sound money management “should” be the goal, not ‘must be.’

The defense of the plan at one point earned a lawyer representing the state a tongue-lashing by Wisconsin-born, Marquette-educated Federal District Court J.P. Stadtmueller, a Ronald Reagan-judicial nominee, whose strong words ought to be required reading for Vos, Scott Fitzgerald and their freshly-expanded staff and legal teams:

…we have had enough of the charade and mischaracterization. I don’t mean to impugn either you or anyone associated with this case, but as they say, the facts are the facts. What has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency, secrecy, and at the end of the day, as the court has commented earlier, it may not have anything to do with the price of tea in China, but appearances are everything, and Wisconsin has prided itself for one generation after another on openness and fairness and doing the right thing.

“Openness and fairness and doing the right thing.” I suppose it’s too big for a tattoo or a forehead brand, but how about some posters suitable for framing sent to Wisconsin GOP legislators and the lawyers we’re paying to engage in these partisan shenanigans?

Vos will probably dip into more state funds to appeal a ruling last week by a different Federal judge who said a fresh round of WI GOP-endorsed voting restrictions were unconstitutional.

Then there’s the sudden growth of new staff and salaries weighing down the Assembly Speaker’s staff — seven new positions in all, including two whose positions carry chief-of-staff designations.

Add in the benefits, along with two more vacancies to fill, and Vos will have million-dollar retinue on hand to push forward all that standard GOP small government fiction.

James Rowen, a former journalist and mayoral staffer in Milwaukee and Madison, writes a regular blog, The Political Environment.

More about the Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

2 thoughts on “Op Ed: Gerrymandering Costs Taxpayers Millions”

  1. blurondo says:

    He must have been attending a Young Republicans meeting the day that “the common good” was being discussed in class.

  2. Alan Bartelme says:

    Republicans’ definition of ‘the common good’ is usually ‘Is it good for me personally?’

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