In a headline that should rank right up there with the shot heard round the world, Epic Systems Corporation, a medical records company, “Won’t deal with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce backers.”-Wisconsin State Journal.
Epic Systems is threatening to pull its business from local vendors who support the state's largest business lobby over a political disagreement with the group… the company cited concern over Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's spending this year on behalf of state Supreme Court candidate Michael Gableman, estimated at $1.8 million, as a reason for working only with vendors whose officials oppose WMC's agenda.
A statement attributed to the Epic Management Team:
Epic wants to remove political influence from law. It’s a position that would keep their own political bias out of the administration of law, and should be an example for other U.S. corporation to follow. Unless of course, they would want to influence our judicial system by putting ideological zealots in neutral positions, thereby destroying the public confidence in the one thing that protects us all.
"We believe that what we tolerate is what we stand for, and as corporate citizens, we stand for the preservation of the foundation of the judicial system … After careful consideration, we made a decision to try to work only with vendors that do not support WMC with its current management. This was not a decision we made lightly, but believe it is the right thing to do."
Epic has never belonged to WMC, and the company is politically neutral… Epic believes judicial elections "should be of the highest integrity" and that various media reported the campaign "was a travesty of ethics and many analyses pointed to WMC as a responsible party."
Epic's officials then consulted with a politically diverse group of industry leaders around Dane County to assess the accuracy of the reports before deciding to work only with vendors that don't support WMC.
But corporations have a free speech rights, even if it is morally and ethically vacuous to try and slant the law to ones favor.
Howard Schweber, a professor of law and political science at UW-Madison, said he's never heard of another situation in which a business threatens not to work with another company based on an election campaign…"If people have the power to coerce others to remain silent or change their views, that's a threat to personal liberty."
Nice try professor, but companies don’t have personal liberties. They are a collection of individuals who make business decisions based on profit. I’m not sure anyone has found the Constitutional passage that gave corporations the same individual rights as citizens. And what of the companies that disagree with WMC’s positions but are forced to go along with them as a member of their organization? What about their personal liberty?
WMC is the state's largest business lobby… purchasing unregulated political ads in the weeks leading up to elections. Here’s the prevailing cliché pushed by the conservative organization: “WMC's ads on behalf of Gableman touted him as a tough-on-crime judge and prosecutor, and criticized Justice Butler as supporting decisions benefiting criminal defendants.”
Oh, you mean giving defendants the benefits of the doubt until proven innocent or guilty, according to the Constitutional guarantees afforded all of us? We wouldn’t want that. And since this was a Supreme Court position, being tough on crime has little to do with issues before them. Basically, it was a straw man argument to begin with.
Another company, J.P. Construction left WMC for the same reasons listed above. Check it out at Waxingamerica.com. From the Isthmus' The Daily Page, how it began.
Congratulations again to Epic Systems, for showing corporate leadership and a respect for law.
UPDATE: A few Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reader comments:
Jackson Clubb: My my my. The wind has shifted and WMC are on the slide. Bigotry and election tampering are bad for business. That leaves 2999 business to take the pledge for clean government and resign from WMC. Next?
Lindsey Lee: Think many of my friends in the business community are quickly coming to the realization that U.S. businesses have to do a better job being forward looking in order to be competitive in the new economy. Those states and communities that are prepared for the new economy will prosper. WMC is the epitome of retrograde business practices that, if they get their way, will not have Wisconsin businesses positioned to be players in the new economy. Thank you EPIC for sticking your neck out and not allowing dinosaurs like the WMC leadership lead Wisconsin business into "extinction"!
gbsparks: Wow, a company that has made a business decision based on consensus and in support of ethical principles. How rare is that? Kudos to Epic and shame on WMC for continuing to pursue its draconian agenda.