Wisconsin State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, is proud of the fact that his Republican Party is recruiting and running spoiler candidates in Democratic primaries for the seats of GOP senators who are being recalled.
These races will decide who will control the upper house of the legislature in a state that now has one-party rule—and a governor who is bent on using all of that power to break labor unions, slash education funding and begin a process of dismantling some of the best Medicaid-supported state healthcare programs in the nation.
Governor Scott Walker could not do any of these things without a pliant legislature. And Fitzgerald (with his brother, Jeff, the Assembly Speaker) keeps things working for Walker.
Scott Fitzgerald, a longtime ally of the governor (who recently appointed Fitzgerald’s father to head the State Patrol) is Walker’s most ardent legislative handmaiden.
Fitzgerald is shameless—and proud of it.
But not all Republicans take pride in seeking to deceive the voters of Wisconsin, confuse the election process and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in election expenses.
For instance, one of the Republicans facing recall, state Senator Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, has claimed publicly that he had nothing to so with a GOP effort to recruit a candidate to force a Democratic primary for his chief challenger, state Representative Fred Clark, D-Baraboo.
When a constituent, Portage resident Ann Feutz, emailed Olsen to say that she was “sad and disappointed” with GOP efforts to confuse the electorate and complicate the election process, Olsen quickly replied.
"I do not have anything to do with finding a Democratic candidate to run against Fred Clark,“ read Olsen’s email. "I learned about it in the paper just like you."
But Majority Leader Fitzgerald, who heads the GOP caucus in which Olsen sits as a quiet and obedient member, says Olsen was briefed on the plan to recruit and run “fake” Democrats.
The six Republican senators who have been targeted or recall, including Olsen, were briefed about the effort to mess with the election process.
“All of them were aware that this was taking place," Fitzgerald told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Some were questioning the angles on it."
The briefing took place at the Republican Party of Wisconsin convention in Wisconsin Dells—which both Fitzgerald and Olsen attended—according to the GOP majority leader.
So who is telling the truth: Fitzgerald or Olsen?
There is no question that a lie was told. Either Fitzgerald lied to the Journal Sentinel, or Olsen lied to his constituents.
It is true that Fitzgerald has cost himself dearly in the credibility department, with not just dishonest claims but also attempts to circumvent and subvert the governing process that have caused months of legal wrangling.
Olsen has a better reputation.
But that reputation will be shredded if he lied to his constituents about gaming the election process.