Skip to content

Former Wisconsin Speaker Scott Jensen And Slow Justice

December 1, 2008

Wisconsin Statehouse corruption hit a new high, or a new low, depending how one looks at the matter, when Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala were in charge of the Legislature.  To be fair the corruption had been going on for many years, but it hit such a level during their tenure people started talking to the press, and the Dane County District Attorney rightfully pressed charges.  The corrosive effect of the political wheeling and dealing, along with use of state workers for partisan political campaigns, is now a matter of record.  It should be well known, as the legal matter with Scott Jensen goes back to 2002.  What some may have forgotten is that one of the main players in this tawdry Capitol episode still awaits a final court trial for the charges against him.  I say final trial, even though a court settlement ultimately looks like the way this matter will be resolved.

Scott Jensen had a Dane County jury of his peers find him guilty in early 2006 of three felonies, and a misdemeanor.  That was not so hard to do as Jensen admitted to using taxpayer paid staff for partisan campaigns, but justified it all by saying everyone else was doing it too.  That defense doesn’t work for our kids, why would it work for one of the most powerful members of the State Legislature?    Jensen was sentenced to 15 months in jail, but the judge ruled he could remain free on bond to pursue other means to appeal his case.

Better yet for Scott Jensen was the decision by an appeals court which threw out the guilty verdict, as the original jury instructions were worded in such a way that the only outcome, so goes the defendant’s argument, was a finding of guilt.  The central argument was whether Jensen was trying to gain a dishonest advantage, through his political machinations, over the opposition party.  I think that any sensible, objective, and legal view says that in fact that is exactly what Jensen was trying to do. 

It is now almost 2009, and the wheels of justice are barely creaking with this case due to the amount of money and legal maneuvering that Scott Jensen has been able to use for his purposes.  The latest ploy by Jensen is to have a panel of three Wisconsin Court of Appeals judges rule on whether the former Republican speaker should be tried in Madison where the first jury found him guilty, or back in his hometown area of Waukesha, where he failed to uphold the faith and trust of those who voted for him.  Should one assume, given the protracted track record of these legal proceedings, Jensen then argues for the Supreme Court to take the case if the judges rule the trial should be in Madison?

Let me make it perfectly clear that I have no problem with a person trying to defend themselves through the legal process.  But I do have issues with those who have the resources to use the legal system as a way to manipulate it in order to evade justice.

In addition, let me state this matter is not one of partisanship, but is one of how straightforward and ethical the political process should be in Wisconsin.  This case has also become a very clear example of how the legal framework can be used if one has the means to do it. 

I feel that former Democratic Leader Chvala also fouled his office, and betrayed his constituents when he abused his powers.  But to his credit Chvala knew there was a price to be paid for his actions, and faced it like a man.  Sheer arrogance was what propelled Scott Jensen into his political problems at the State Capitol, and it is that characteristic that allows him to now feel that he is above the powers of the judicial system.  Politics was a game for Scott Jensen, and now he is using the legal system in the same fashion.

While the ordinary citizen of Wisconsin would have already completed the 15-month jail sentence that was handed down in 2006, Scott Jensen has effectively snubbed any consequences for his actions while Speaker of the Assembly.

Is it any wonder that so much of the electorate feels as it does about politicians, the political process, and now even the judicial system?

Technorati Tags: , ,

3 Comments
  1. December 2, 2008 8:19 PM

    If all else fails, Jensen has a much friendlier State Supreme Court now, thanks to his friends.

  2. December 1, 2008 10:48 AM

    Hear, hear. Well said!

  3. ferrellgummitt permalink
    December 1, 2008 10:19 AM

    It sounds like the way it is going Bush 43 will find some way to pardon him… The comment “But to his credit Chvala knew there was a price to be paid for his actions, and faced it like a man.” hits home for me. Take the medicine and get on with your life.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: