Washington, D.C .– Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-partisan government watchdog group, asked the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to investigate whether Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker violated state law by sending the Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP) to the home of Democratic Senate Leader Mark Miller. CREW also submitted open records requests to the Office of the Governor, Office of the Senate Majority Leader and the WSP seeking records regarding the use of the troopers. Click here to read CREW’s letter to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Click here to read the open records requests.
“Governor Walker has many tools at his disposal to fight the state’s public employees, but using troopers to track down a political opponent crosses the line,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. Sloan continued, “The governor’s conduct is especially egregious in light of a Wisconsin law specifically barring troopers from taking part in any dispute between an employer and employee over wages, hours, labor, or working conditions — the subject of the governor’s bill.”
CREW’s complaint alleges that by abusing his position as governor to send the WSP to Sen. Miller’s home, Gov. Walker obtained an unlawful benefit – the use of the troopers – in an effort to gain an advantage in his wage dispute with the state’s public employees. Further, CREW charges that Sen. Fitzgerald and WSP Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald may have conspired with the governor to unlawfully send state troopers after Sen. Miller.
Notably, it was Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald who asked the governor to call on the WSP, aiming to send a message to Sen. Miller and his caucus. The WSP is headed by Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald, father to both the majority leader and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Superintendent Fitzgerald took office on February 14, 2011, the same day the governor’s bill was introduced, and just three days before Sen. Miller asked Gov. Walker to call on the troopers for assistance.
“Superintendent Fitzgerald should be devoting his time to the WSP’s stated mission enforcing traffic laws, helping motorists in need, inspecting trucks, school buses and ambulances and assisting local law enforcement agencies with natural disasters and civil disturbances, not illegally intervening in disputes at his son’s behest,” said Ms. Sloan. “Would Sen. Fitzgerald have had the nerve to suggest the WSP get involved if his father wasn’t running the agency? And wouldn’t a more independent superintendent have refused the request?”
“As the country watches events unfold in Wisconsin, the state’s Government Accountability Board must act quickly and firmly to ensure all Americans that the abuse of law enforcement authority will not be tolerated and that even powerful political officials are not above the law.” said Ms. Sloan.