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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wisconsin governor refuses to meet with Democratic leader

     

    A Democrat’s offer to meet with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to break the state’s budget impasse produced only a burst of accusations by both sides that some said could set back negotiations.

    Walker lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, saying Miller’s request to meet with him was “”ridiculous”” because Miller hasn’t delivered a deal with Republicans despite several meetings between the two sides. Democrats remained holed up in Illinois to block action on Walker’s budget bill and said the governor had given in little on the proposal, which would end most collective bargaining for public employee unions in the state.

    Meanwhile Monday, lawmakers of both parties called for more negotiation and acknowledged they were taking possible Senate recalls seriously.

    “”I called one of these senators myself (Monday morning),”” Walker said at a news conference at which he was flanked by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

    “”It could not be more abundantly clear how serious we are about getting this done.””

    Miller said in a letter sent Monday that he wants to meet with Walker and Scott Fitzgerald ””near the WisconsinIllinois border to formally resume serious discussions”” on Walker’s bill. He said he was also willing to have Walker meet with another Democrat if the governor preferred.

    “”I have personally called Sen. Fitzgerald and the governor and his office on a regular basis but have not received return calls,”” said a statement by Miller, who could not be reached for an interview. “”I would hope as we move forward the governor and Republican leaders will spend less time at news conferences and more time on the phone or at meetings pursuing a resolution to our differences.””

    Two other Democratic senators — Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen — met with Scott Fitzgerald last week in Kenosha. At the news conference, Walker revealed that his staff met with Miller on Wednesday in a Kenosha McDonald’s and with other Democrats in South Beloit on Sunday.

    Walker said the meeting in the McDonald’s had gone so well that his staff had called just before midnight to wake him up and brief him on the talks. But he said Miller is “”standing in the way”” of compromise by preventing a deal discussed with Jauch and Cullen from going forward.

    In discussing the meetings, Walker again declined to reveal what sort of compromise his administration had offered Senate Democrats and how much he’s willing to change his bill.

    Scott Fitzgerald said that he and his brother met with Walker on Sunday to talk about solving the standoff. He said Miller wasn’t in charge of his group.

    “”I hope you are enjoying your vacation, and your vacation from reality,”” Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a response to Miller.

    Jauch said Monday that he was furious about what he said was a misrepresentation of the talks between Democrats and Republicans.

    “”Today Governor Walker mischaracterized my effort to find a solution as a way to undermine the unity of the 14 senators. I want to make it clear that I have opened dialogue to protect collective bargaining and workers rights but I won’t sell out my colleagues and workers in the process,”” Jauch said in a Facebook posting.

    Jauch said that he thinks Senate Democrats need eventually to return to Wisconsin to deal with recall elections being organized against senators of both parties.

    “”My wife brought me (from) home another two weeks of clean clothes, but I told her I hoped I didn’t have to use it. At some point this transition has to occur,”” Jauch said.

    Cullen also disagreed Monday with Walker, saying he and Jauch had never had an agreement with Republicans to come back to Wisconsin.

    “”Our understanding in our discussions was always that they had to take where the discussions were at back to the governor, the (Senate) majority leader and the (Assembly) speaker and we had to take the discussions back to our caucus,”” Cullen said.

    Pressure continued for senators from both sides caught up in the standoff, as organizers gather signatures to force recalls and smaller groups of demonstrators continued to chant in the rotunda and march around the square.

    Scott Fitzgerald said he was “”absolutely”” concerned about recalls in the Senate, where eight Republicans face them.

    “”We’re taking them seriously,”” Scott Fitzgerald said of the recalls, though he dismissed any talk of Republicans losing their 19-14 majority in the Senate as a Democratic “”pipe dream.””

    With Democrats also facing recalls, Scott Fitzgerald said he also thought Republicans might pick up one or more Democratic seats.

    Also on Monday, the state Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint with the state’s Government Accountability Board, accusing Walker of violating ethics and campaign finance laws.

    The complaint centered on a phone call Walker received around Feb. 22 from a prankster posing as billionaire conservative activist David KochMike Tate, chairman of the state party, said the allegations against Walker deserved further scrutiny in the light of the call.

    According to the complaint, which was based on the transcript of the call, Walker allegedly asked the fake Koch to run ads, which would constitute an illegal, third-party coordination to initiate an independent expenditure; requested a political contribution inside a state-owned building, which is prohibited; misused the attorney general’s office for political motivations; conspired to recklessly endanger safety by raising the issue of planting troublemaker in the protest crowds; committed an unfair labor practice charge by suggesting he would send layoff notices out to put pressure on missing Democrats; and expressed interest in accepting an offer from the fake Koch to take a trip to California.

    Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the Democrats were “”playing politics”” and their complaint was “”without merit.””

    The Government Accountability Board is expected to look into the allegations to see if they are worth investigating. All investigations are confidential.

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