Wis. GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald: 'Are Our Recall Statutes Legit?'
Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) expressed his frustration with the state's recall laws, during a press conference on Tuesday.
Fitzgerald's off-the-cuff comments sounded less like he was mulling any actual prospective efforts to change the law, but rather seemed more a show of irritation that a significant number of his caucus members -- those last elected in 2008 -- are being targeted for recalls by Democrats, in the battle over Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal and its anti-public employee union provisions.
At one point, Fitzgerald was asked whether the wave of recall signature drives could lead to Republicans losing their newly-won majority. "No, I don't believe so," said Fitzgerald. "I mean, what I do believe is that we're taking those recalls seriously, and we're making sure that we have everything available to those senators to make their case.
"The ironic thing to me is that, you know, at this point we've got senators under recall that haven't even voted on anything and you know, we've got an assemblyman [Gordon Hintz (D)] that was arrested in Oshkosh (sic) for being at a massage parlor -- and he's not under recall. I mean, I think it really makes a case for, you know, are our recall statutes legit? And it really makes you wonder if they shouldn't be revisited at some point."
Later in the press conference, Fitzgerald was asked what he would like to see changed about the recall process, and whether he had anything specific in mind.
"Yeah, I mean, I've always been a believer that recall probably would be more appropriate if a legislator was involved in some type of, you know, either criminal activity, or something that could be deemed, you know, unethical," said Fitzgerald. "Not related to simply taking a stance on a tough vote. And you know, I think there's other legislators that feel that way as well."
For what it's worth, Hintz cannot be recalled at this juncture even if a suitable number of his constituents wanted to do so. The state's recall law requires that an elected official be at least one year into their term -- thus limiting the number of recall-eligible state senators to the half of the chamber that was last elected in 2008, and also preventing any efforts to immediately recall the newly-elected Walker himself. While a member of the state Assembly theoretically could be recalled after one year, the fact that their terms are only two years, and thus a recall would take place in the year they are up for election anyway, would render such an exercise somewhat pointless.
The full audio can be found here. Fitzgerald's first discussion of the recall statute comes at about the 3:20 mark, and the second exchange at the 8:10 mark.
Weasle-like tactics....when you don't like the direction the game going, question the rules of the game.
How Dems are winning: Mark Miller keeps his cool, Scott Fitzgerald blows up
Sometimes, it is simply best to let the members of the Wisconsin Senate speak for themselves about the dispute between the Republicans and the 14 Democrats who have refused to provide a quorum to pass Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.
Early Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, wrote a letter offering to negotiate with Walker and Republican legislative leaders.
Within hours, the governor had held a press conference in which he dismissed and derided Miller’s offer. Then Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, replied to Miller with what seemed to us to be one of the crudest letters seen in modern political discourse.
But we’ll let readers decide who is serious about resolving the impasse and who is playing politics.
Here’s Miller’s letter:
Dear Governor Walker and Senator Fitzgerald:
Over the past several weeks we have witnessed an unprecedented public debate in Wisconsin over the value of public workers and the importance of collective bargaining rights. I write today to offer to meet, in person, as soon as possible to resume discussions on how we reach a bipartisan solution to our differences on January 2011 Special Session Senate and Assembly Bill 11.
The working people of Wisconsin are deeply concerned about what the future holds for their families, and for the great state they call home. Now more than ever they are counting on us as leaders to work together to resolve our differences to move our state forward.
Since the bill’s introduction, public workers have come forward to offer economic concessions and Democrats have offered a number of proposals to try to reach a bipartisan resolution.
I assure you that Democratic state senators, despite our differences and the vigorous debate we have had,
remain ready and willing to find a reasonable compromise. To that end, I would ask that you or your authorized representatives agree to meet with us near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible.
The people of Wisconsin are overwhelmingly supportive of us reaching a bipartisan, negotiated compromise. Senate Democrats stand ready to do just that, we ask that you do the same.
Senate Democratic leader
Here’s Fitzgerald’s letter:
Dear Senator Miller:
Thank you for your hand-delivered letter with an offer to meet, in Illinois, about the business and future direction of Wisconsin. Let’s set aside how bizarre that is for a moment.
As you know, this legislation is designed to finally balance the state budget, prevent layoffs and create jobs in the real world. There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed or underemployed Wisconsinites, and at least 1,500 more whose jobs are in the balance because of your media stunt. We all deserve better than this. In the meantime, members of your caucus have been meeting with the governor’s staff, talking to the media, trying to find a way back to Madison, and contradicting your message in public. In case you don’t remember, you were present yourself at one of those meetings with the governor’s staff.
Your grasp of reality, and control of your caucus as minority leader, continues to amaze me. As you know, your opportunity to compromise and amend the bill was on the floor of the state Senate. As you know, you forfeited that right and opportunity when you decided to flee the state instead of doing your job.
Your stubbornness in trying to ignore the last election and protect the broken status quo is truly shameful. While we wait for you and your colleagues to finally show up, Senate Republicans continue to stand ready to do the job we were elected to do, here in Wisconsin. I hope you are enjoying your vacation, and your vacation from reality.
Senate majority leader
CC: Governor Scott WalkerSource
Just....damn. Fine, here's my response: