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Wisconsin GOP Senators Head to Washington to Collect Their Payoffs, er, Campaign Contributions | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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Wisconsin GOP Senators Head to Washington to Collect Their Payoffs, er, Campaign Contributions

Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the consigliere for Governor Scott Walker in the legislative fight to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers and to make it easier for the governor to transfer public property to campaign donors in no-bid deals, will head to the nation’s capital Wednesday to collect tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Washington-based lobbyists for corporate interests.

Fitzgerald will be the “star” of a lavish fundraising event at the offices of the BRG lobbying group. The “B” is BRG stands for Barbour, as in veteran GOP fixer Haley Barbour, who is now the governor of Mississippi and a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender. The firm is one of the most powerful corporate lobbying groups in Washington, and it will be delivering big for Fitzgerald and his fellow senators.

Lobbyists and DC insiders will pay $1,000 apiece to attend the session with Fitzgerald.

“Sponsors” will pay $2,500.

“Hosts” will pay $5,000.

Along with Fitzgerald, who this week made news when he attempted to bar Democratic senators from voting in Senate committees (only to be forced to back off after the move stirred a public outcry), Joint Finance Committee co-chair Alberta Darling will attend. Darling—Finance Committee role makes her a point person for Walker’s budget plan—is the target of an aggressive recall campaigns.

Also making the trip are Fitzgerald’s brother, Jeff, who serves as Assembly speaker (seriously) and Robin Vos, one of Jeff Fitzgerald’s lieutenants in the Assembly.

Absent from the gathering will be the other sixteen Republican state senators, including Senate President Mike Ellis, who took the lead in forcing majority leader Fitzgerald to back off his attempt to deny Democratic senators voting. Capitol aides say that Ellis and a number of other senior senators have grown increasingly ill at ease with Fitzgerald’s erratic behavior and with his inability to recognize the damage that could be done to Republicans if they appear to be flying into Washington to pick up corporate money in return for passing Walker’s plan.

“There’s just no way to spin this as a positive,” said one aide, who suggested that Ellis would look “like a bagman.”

(Notably, Congressman Sean Duffy, a Republican from northern Wisconsin, contacted media outlets to emphasize that he had not been invited to the event and would not be attending.)

On the chance that anyone might miss the “bagman” point, more than 1,000 workers, union members and activists are expected to attend a mass protest outside the BGR headquarters at 601 13th Street NW in Washington. Among the groups sponsoring the event are:

* Public Campaign Action Fund

*AFSCME

*Public Citizen

*USAction

*Common Cause

* People for the American Way

* MoveOn.org

* The Center for Media and Democracy

*Code Pink

* Center for Community Change

* Progressive Change Campaign Committee

The Wisconsin Republicans "are coming to DC on Wednesday to collect their payoff from corporate lobbyists after the GOP lawmakers voted last week in the dark of night to strip teachers, nurses, snowplow drivers and others of their collective bargaining rights," says Jos Williams, metro Washington council president. "These politicians might be willing to subvert our democratic process to move Wall Street's corporate agenda, but we're fighting to bring balance to our economy and protect middle-class families."

 

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