Listen To WCLO’s Stan Milam Show About Mike Sheridan

This is a thoughtful talk show that deserves a listen concerning a topic that impacts all of Wisconsin.  The topic is the ethically challenged  Democratic Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly.  There is much to hear about Speaker Mike Sheridan, as he dates a Republican lobbyist who opposes the payday loan bill that is mired in the mud.  Talk about BS!

Wisconsin Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan Has Ethics Problem While Dating Payday Loan Lobbyist

Last week Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Sheridan acted liked the not-too smart police chief on South Park.  You have seen it before.  On South Park, there are bodies laying in the streets, and the town’s police chief always says “nothing to see here, move along.”   That is how Sheridan treated his Democratic caucus, his constituents, and the voters of Wisconsin.  The fact that there was a closed-door Democratic caucus last week with some angry members concerning a most important pending piece of legislation, the payday loan bill, was very much in the news.  Also there was the understory that was muted for the most part about the latest love interest of Speaker Sheridan.  In the midst of another divorce  for Sheridan, everyone with a connection to the Statehouse knew that a payday loan lobbyist was the center of his attention.  The problem is of course that as Assembly Speaker, the caucus and the bill in question, really needs to be his focal point. 

Everyone knew last week what was going on, and there was no wool to pull over anyone’s eyes anymore.  As such, I commented last week that he needed to fess up and move on.  The fact it took him a weekend to ante up I guess is not too long a wait, but the fact he thought he should wait at all is the part that irritates.   It is always best to get the facts out when even the cleaning staff at the Capital know what is going on. I am so tired of these types of stories about love, lust, or whatever that drives politicians to make less than stellar decisions.  At a time when important bills are pending, and a tight and rancorous election season approaches, I want all hands on deck leading a path to victory.  That certainly includes Speaker Sheridan.  One can’t do that however when their hands are in ethically challenged areas.  And that is exactly where Sheridan is.  It is not right.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan tells the Janesville Gazette newspaper that he has been dating a lobbyist for the payday loan industry even though a bill to increase regulations in that industry is pending in the Legislature.

Sheridan told the newspaper in a story published on Saturday that he didn’t believe the relationship with the lobbyist was inappropriate. 

Sheridan says he plans to steer a strong bill through the Legislature. 

He says he understands that his integrity is being questioned, but he would not compromise the bill for a personal relationship. 

Sheridan declined to identify the woman, saying he’s dated her for several months but doesn’t know whether he will again.

Did he just drop her as his date in a newspaper story? 

There might be a reason for his divorces.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Sheridan Defends Private Life After ‘Coup Attempt’

Read Feb 1, 2010 update to this story here.

There is clearly more to this story than sunshine and roses.  Most of the problems that arise from these types of stories are not so much the facts of the case, but the attempt to hide from them.   The intrigue that this story alludes to keeps it alive.  Granted WIBA radio did a half-(butt) job in writing and reporting this story.  If they were going to put out a short story they also should have filled in more of the facts, such as when the quote was made by Speaker Sheridan, and what the background issue was that brought the caucus together.  But putting aside  the journalistic shortfall, there is no debate about the fact that a full and frank disclosure, whatever the facts may be, is the best political route to moving on…..for the entire Democratic Caucus.

Political intrigue at our Capitol yesterday as majority Democrats in the state Assembly met behind closed doors…apparently over a coup attempt against Speaker Mike Sheridan.  But Sheridan, a former UAW leader from Janesville, denies being insecure, “No, not at all.  In fact I felt a tremendous amount of support.”  What’s behind this? A rumor that the 51-year-old Sheridan has been having an affair with a lobbyist, “What I do outside this building you know, is my private life, and I’m not going to be talking about these things.”  Sheridan and his wife are going through a divorce.

The Chicago Tribune printed an AP story and started their report this way.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan on Thursday accused opponents of increasing payday loan regulation of starting rumors that he was going to be removed from power.

Sheridan said he does not intend to resign as speaker and no vote was taken in a closed-door meeting of Democratic Assembly members earlier Thursday to remove him.

Democratic Assembly members talked about the rumors, Sheridan said in an interview in his office shortly after the meeting ended. But he said those rumors started with lobbyists. He did not say who, specifically.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Sheridan Correct To Not Attend Fundraiser

I was pleased to hear the news that the Assembly Democratic leadership of the Wisconsin State Legislature will not attend a fundraiser during the on-going budget process.

This past week I wrote the following.

The fact that our political process ‘requires’ so much money is an issue that can be debated endlessly.  But I think we can all agree that the timing of this fundraiser, which just happens to fall smack in the middle of the budget process, should raise red flags.  

We want to assume each of our legislators is a ray of democracy striving to do what is right.  For me, and I suspect for the bulk of my readers, we understand the reality of the political process.  We want to think the best, but know better.

I am not sure how anyone under the Statehouse dome could have been so relaxed with this idea in the first place, but I am clearly pleased that there will be no attendance of those who are constructing the state budget.

The state Assembly’s Democratic leaders said they won’t attend a campaign fundraiser next week to preserve their pledge to avoid raising cash during state budget deliberations.  

The Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee had organized a golf outing for June 15 in Wisconsin Dells. Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville and Majority Leader Tom Nelson of Kaukauna were planning to attend.  

Both Sheridan and Nelson helped pass an Assembly rule in February that forbids members to raise cash for their personal campaigns while the budget is in play.  

Their plans to attend the outing drew criticism. Sheridan issued a statement Monday evening saying Democrats must avoid doing anything that would call the rule into question. 

Wisconsin Speaker Sheridan Needs To Cancel Attendance At Fundraiser During Budget Process

Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Sheridan should not attend a fundraiser set for June 15th, in the midst of the legislative review and work on the state budget.

This is why.

I have long argued, even while I was working in the Wisconsin State Legislature that there should be NO fundraisers held while the budget process was underway.    I was at odds with most everyone on this issue, but I felt I was right then, and still correct now.

After all, should an elected official hold a fundraiser to collect political cash while crafting a state budget?  Or put another way, do we have so much faith that our elected officials are all so honorable that we have nothing to fear from these fundraisers while millions of dollars in program decisions are voted on in the budget process?

With that in mind comes word that Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheridan is going to appear at a fundraiser on June 15th, smack dab in the middle of the floor action on the state budget. 

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan is scheduled to appear at a campaign fundraiser in two weeks despite pledges Assembly members would forego fundraising during state budget deliberations.  

Sheridan, a Janesville Democrat, is set to appear at an Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee golf outing June 15.  

The Assembly has a rule that states the body’s goal is to eliminate campaign fundraising during state budget negotiations.  

Sheridan’s spokeswoman said the rule is meant to ban contributions to individual candidates, not the Democrats’ general campaign committee.

I am sure that Speaker Sheridan would say that this fundraiser in no way will impact his thought process about the budget, or influence decisions he needs to make.  I do not know the Speaker personally so have no way of truly discerning how he feels, or will act on this matter.  But therein lies the problem of the perception this fundraiser creates, and the slippery road we embark on when fundraisers are held during the work on a state budget.  Speaker Sheridan may be totally unswayed by the campaign cash, but the system should not operate in such a way as to make the public raise the question of the potential conflict of interest.

The fact that our political process ‘requires’ so much money is an issue that can be debated endlessly.  But I think we can all agree that the timing of this fundraiser, which just happens to fall smack in the middle of the budget process, should raise red flags.  

We want to assume each of our legislators is a ray of democracy striving to do what is right.  For me, and I suspect for the bulk of my readers, we understand the reality of the political process.  We want to think the best, but know better.

People should contact Speaker Sheridan and urge him not to attend this fundraiser while the budget process is under way in the Statehouse.

His office phone number is (608) 266-7503  or (888) 947-0044