I think it reasonable to expect the governmental process to be as open and transparent as possible. The more information the public has about the law making process, the better the final result will be, and the more credibility it will have with the public.
The same can be said for the political process that results in candidates becoming elected officials. The more candid and straightforward the nominee is during the campaign, the more solid a foundation that person will have in an elected position.
Sadly, that is not the case with newly elected Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. During his campaign to be the top justice official in the state he slammed a correct decision by AG Peg Lautenschlager concerning a lawsuit of a cranberry farmer polluting a lake in Sawyer County. I have no problem with a fresh perspective, and even a contrary position on an issue of this type in an election. After all, that is the reason we hold elections and review the actions of our elected officers.
But while claiming some high ground on the campaign trail against what he saw as a lawsuit not having merit, he failed to mention the law firm that was representing the cranberry grower also hired him. Hmmmm….I think as a voter and a citizen I (we) had a right to know that before the election. In addition the law firm, DeWitt, Ross & Stevens, has two lawyers working as paid lobbyists for the Cranberry Growers Association. Again, I think that this information would have put J.B.’s claims in perspective.
I fault the media for not having ferreted out this story during the campaign since it is quite clear we could not expect openness and honesty from J.B. (I still cannot believe we elected someone to high office that goes by his initials.) Had there been one intrepid reporter in Wisconsin doing some background on this matter, a conflict of issue could have been made known to the voting public. As of now there will be a direct conflict of interest once Van Hollen takes office. Even though he asserts no knowledge of the case, and claims not to have participated in the law firm’s actions, one must assume, given his less than candid stance during the campaign, that he cannot be trusted.
I think it rich that Van Hollen would claim Lautenschlager made political decisions over this issue, when he was at the very center of the lawsuit the whole time. One thing is clear, and that is Van Hollen will start his term in the A.G.’s office with a stench due to not conducting an open and candid campaign in the fall election. The public now understands that buying a political position is harmful to the state. Wisconsin suffers when a candidate thinks his election is more important than the integrity of the office he hopes to gain.
Technorati Tags: WisconsinAttorneyGeneral, VanHollen, CranberryGrowersAssociation, Lautenschlager, Ethics