Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Zamarripa Defends Her Double Dipping

Alderwoman will collect second full-time salary as state legislator for eight months.

By - Jul 14th, 2020 01:58 pm
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Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa. Photo from State of Wisconsin.

Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa. Photo from State of Wisconsin.

Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa is collecting two full-time salaries from the taxpayers, from the City of Milwaukee and from the State of Wisconsin, as a state representative, and she intends to continue double dipping until January 2021, when her Assembly term expires. WUWM first reported this story and Zamarripa criticized the news station for asking her about this. 

“I think it’s unfair that I’m being criticized or attacked or questioned around this,” she said. Zamarripa noted the case of two men in Wisconsin who served in more than one elected office and said, “I do find it interesting that the question would be pointed towards me, a queer Latina and not these men.”  

It’s actually fairly rare in Wisconsin for a candidate to serve in two offices, and when it happens, one or both of those jobs are usually part-time, in smaller municipalities. One example reported by Urban Milwaukee: Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert collected two full-time salaries – as a Republican Assembly member and mayor – between his April 2012 election as mayor and the January 2013 end of his Assembly term.

In Milwaukee in 2012, Spencer Coggs served out the last eight months of his term after winning office as City Treasurer. But at the time the Democrats had a 17-16 edge in the state Senate and his absence would have left a 16-16 tie. Zamarripa suggested she needed to continue in the Assembly to prevent the Republicans from overriding any veto by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, but even with her gone the party would be two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override. Then there’s the case of David Crowley, who resigned from his position as state representative after winning the race for Milwaukee County Executive, but he was required to do so under state law to hold that office.

Ironically, Zamarripa was the co-author of legislation back in 2015 that would have prohibited any individual “from being a candidate on the same ballot for two or more offices simultaneously.” 

Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter, who cosponsored the bill, told Urban Milwaukee it was aimed at Bob Donovan, who was running for both alderman and mayor in the same election. “Many people, including some of his constituents, were upset about it and felt it was wrong,” he explained. 

“I don’t feel it’s right to campaign for two different offices in the same election cycle, and I haven’t done that,” Zamarripa told Urban Milwaukee. 

But voters were aware that Donovan was running for two offices at once and would be aware in the case of others Zamarripa mentioned, of those running for two offices and they have an opportunity to decide that through the ballot box. In the case of serving out a term and collecting a second salary, the issue is typically never discussed. 

But Zamarripa told Urban Milwaukee “I was always honest with folks” about her intention to serve out the Assembly term and “It wasn’t a concern to voters I spoke with.” 

But how many voters asked her about this? I could find no news story or press releases by Zamarripa where she disclosed her intention to collect two salaries from the taxpayers for eight months. With her state salary of $52,999 a year and city salary of $73,222 a year, she will collect more than $84,000 in wages over an eight-month period. That compares to an average household income of $30,000 for residents in her district, as WUWM noted. She will also get double pension credits toward both her state and city pensions over that period. 

“Like many people who work more than one job, I am being paid for the work I do,” Zamarripa says. “My constituents have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. I have been working both jobs to advocate for them, many whom are Latinx, and my offices provide help to those who need help connecting city and state resources.” 

Zamarripa won the race for the Common Council by just 92 votes, with 1,104 for her and 1,012 for opponent Justin Bielinski. Would she have won if voters knew her intention was to collect two salaries for eight months?

Zamarripa had strong support from Democratic heavyweights in the race, with endorsement from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Mayor Tom Barrett. And now the consensus Democratic candidate will be double dipping from the taxpayers for eight months.  

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

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