Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Clancy Runs As Double-Dipping Socialist

Running for Legislature, but would continue as county supervisor, collecting both salaries.

By - May 24th, 2022 04:35 pm
Ryan Clancy speaks at a June 2021 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Ryan Clancy speaks at a June 2021 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County supervisor Ryan Clancy has dedicated much of his life to activism. As his county bio notes, “his advocacy has taken him to the Philippines, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer, to Indonesia, where he trained to do unarmed protective accompaniment for human rights volunteers, and to Iraq, where he worked with students and protested the occupation in 2003. Closer to home, in Virginia he worked with youth from areas of conflict around the world, protested at Standing Rock, and has been arrested or risked arrest protesting for immigrant rights in Milwaukee and Racine.”

And Clancy was the first socialist elected to public office in Milwaukee since 1956, when Mayor Frank Zeidler won his last term.

And as a county board member, first elected in 2020, Clancy has taken many stands that square with a socialist world view, pushing to reduce the county sheriff’s budget and spend more to improve food at the county jail and allow prisoners free phone calls and spending on vaccine incentives for jail and House of Corrections inmates. He argues that “budgets are moral documents.”

But now Clancy is running for the Wisconsin Assembly, to replace Jonathan Brostoff, who is running for alderman. And Clancy intends to keep his county supervisor seat. This would mean he would be double dipping from the government coffers over a period of more than 15 months.

While going door-to-door in my East Side neighborhood, Clancy told me he wanted to continue on the county board because there were important issues he wanted to work on. In a story by Urban Milwaukee reporter Jeramey Jannene, Clancy suggested this was actually a good thing for his constituents: “Indeed, as someone familiar with how the county and the state overlap and, sometimes, conflict, I would be able to be more effective as a legislator and advocate in both seats,” said Clancy.

But wouldn’t a socialist, or a liberal for that matter, oppose concentrating that much power in one politician? Isn’t it more democratic to have more representation, with a different person holding each office?

And what about the fact that Clancy will be collecting two salaries? Members of the Legislature are paid $55,141 per year plus an additional “per diem” payment for expenses that averaged more than $ 3,000 per legislator in 2020, with the top legislator (former Republican state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald) managing to collect $19,550 for his expenses. A Milwaukee County supervisor is paid $25,924, a part-time salary based on a 2014 referendum which approved the reduction from a full-time job. All together, Clancy’s annual compensation is likely to surpass $83,000.

Clancy noted that Supervisor Sequanna Taylor has served on both the county board and school board simultaneously. But those are both part-time positions with part-time pay. And school board members don’t get a pension. The salary for legislators is intended to be full-time.

A better example also noted by Clancy is County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, who after winning election to the Assembly in November 2020, also collected two salaries and pension credits for more than 15 months, from January 2021 until April 2022.

But it’s more common for politicians to resign a prior office after they win a new one. Two recent examples include Rep. Supreme Moore Omokunde, elected to the Assembly in the same election as Ortiz-Velez, who resigned his county board seat in December 2020. And David Crowley resigned from his position as state representative after winning the race for Milwaukee County Executive (though he was required to do so under state law to hold the new office).

After winning election as a Milwaukee alderwoman in April 2020, JoCasta Zamarripa continued for eight months as a state legislator, collecting two salaries. With her state salary of $52,999 a year and city salary of $73,222 a year, she collected more than $84,000 in wages over an eight-month period. I wrote about this for Urban Milwaukee and some readers on Facebook criticized me.

Would they have been as critical of the story if Zamarripa was a Republican? And there have been Republicans who have done this as well. As Steven Walters reported for Urban Milwaukee, Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert collected two salaries for nine months, from his $79,000 per year as mayor and just under $50,000 as legislator between his April 2012 election as mayor and the January 2013 end of his Assembly term. Perhaps the champ was Manitowoc County Executive Robert Ziegelbauer, who also served as a legislator, collecting a combined salary of at least $120,000 a year for more than six years.

But what is the message to the voters when they learn about this? Does it just add to the cynicism about government, as the far more flagrant insider dealing of the infamous Milwaukee County pension plan did? Doesn’t it help messaging by the Republican Party, which loves to bash government as something to be distrusted?

Clancy has already mailed his first campaign literature to Assembly District 19 voters, which discusses many issues and proudly proclaims he is a socialist, but doesn’t mention that he plans to collect a double salary. Nor does his “Clancy for Assembly” website. If he trusts the will of the people, why not disclose this?

Update: Ryan Clancy did not reply to my requests for comment, but did contact me after this story was published to say this: “It’s clear that there’s not a mechanism at the County to simply refuse one’s paycheck. So I’m looking forward, if elected to the Assembly, to donating as much of my County Supervisor salary as I can to grassroots organizations who are doing great work in Milwaukee and across the state.” Also, an early version of this story suggested Clancy would collect double pension credits. In fact, county board members have not gotten pension credits since 2016.

5 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Clancy Runs As Double-Dipping Socialist”

  1. Thomas Gaudynski says:


    Thanks for digging into this and exposing it.

    Serious ethics lapse I’d say.

    Thomas Gaudynski

  2. Swblackwood says:

    If this is a problem, how about just make it illegal to hold 2 elective offices at once. Personally I don’t really care. Life is full of people working multiple jobs.


    Bruce please follow this up with an article on all the state representatives and senators including Robin Vos who are drawing two and sometimes three full-time salaries, as lawyers, businessmen, etc. The County Board positions are now part-time. At least Clancy will not be compensated for working two full time jobs like so many of our state legislators.

  4. Duane says:

    The headline certainly has a negative connotation, “double dipping socialist”. It certainly sounds like a pejorative to me. But as someone else has pointed out, it could merely be described as working two jobs. Who cares. (This opinion piece seems like something Daniel Bice would come up with).

  5. says:

    Bruce, both the title and implication is a low blow. Those you mention who have had two positions are only those with two public positions. Robin Vos for example rakes in more than the average assemblyman and also runs a popcorn business. For years many assembly folks were lawyers besides assemblymen. Dan Reimer works for the military part-time. The state assembly in fact is basically a part-time position (maybe not for those in leadership). You can step down from your moral high ground and stick to real issues.

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