"Small government" conservatives, including business owners, rural farmers, and think tank freeloaders, actually love the convoluted multi-tentacled regulations Scott Walker, Robin Vos, and Scott Fitzgerald created stripping the Attorney Generals office of their power. It will now cost taxpayer money to maneuver through a politically motivated maze creating more litigation.
JS: The episode is the latest in a saga of confusion for lawmakers as they try to navigate new laws that give the Legislature more power over litigation handled by AG Josh Kaul. Lawmakers and Kaul can't agree on how to share sensitive legal information, and more than a dozen lawsuits involving millions of dollars languish as the dispute continues.
With the likely loss of Wisconsin settlement money from ongoing lawsuits, costing the state millions, where are all those "fiscally conservative" voters now?
Here's what "streamlining" government bureaucracy looks like, according to Wisconsin Republican politicians, point by mind-boggling point. Remember, this was once the AG's job, resulting in no news headlines, no controversy:
1. Republican leaders of the Legislature's finance committee hired an attorney at taxpayer expense, $290 an hour, Thursday to sign a secrecy agreement in an effort to end a standoff with Attorney General Josh Kaul ... (to) resolve the dispute triggered by new laws requiring the Democratic attorney general to get legislators' permission to settle lawsuits.
2. Legal analysis by the head of the Legislature's research bureau suggested only a new law could require lawmakers to keep such information private. And the nondisclosure agreement proposed by the GOP leaders wouldn't apply to any of the committee's members anyway because none of them signed it individually.
3. Lawmakers this week refused to sign such agreements requested by Kaul, who said he needed assurances of confidentiality to avoid consequences for taxpayers as he seeks to resolve litigation involving the state.
4. Darling and Nygren signed a contract with Andrew Phillips of the Milwaukee law firm von Briesen that says the nondisclosure agreement binds the committee and its members, even though Phillips is the only person who signed it.
5. "They can't do that," said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach. "This attorney they've hired does not represent the views of us.""This is the first I'm hearing about it," Democratic Rep. Evan Goyke said. They said they were baffled by the notion that an attorney they didn't know they had could contend he had the power to limit what they could tell the public.
6. Rick Champagne, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, wrote in a memo that a confidentiality agreement signed by an attorney did not apply to individual lawmakers.
"I cannot find any authority that would require a member of the Legislature who serves on a committee to keep confidential any information delivered in closed session unless the information was required by state or federal law to be kept confidential or was information that the member had agreed to keep confidential under a confidentiality agreement signed by the member."
Hanging in the balance; millions of dollars the state could use, especially against the opioid crisis affecting a lot of rural area Republican voters:
The action comes a day after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported more than a dozen lawsuits involving state taxpayers are languishing because the Wisconsin politicians can't agree on how to resolve them under the new Republican law that curbs the power of the Democratic attorney general. The impasse comes as billions of dollars are on the table for states — including Wisconsin — suing over the opioid crisis.Who can forget this taxpayer paid for fiasco...actual government censorship. Who's silencing political speech again?
A proposed deal to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma over the company's role in the nation's opioid crisis was pushed back Thursday just as Kaul told lawmakers the tight timeline to resolve the latest dispute was no longer in place. Purdue Pharma is facing pushback from some attorneys general who say the proposed settlement of up to $12 billion isn't enough, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Attorneys for a liberal group will be paid $200,000 by taxpayers because Republican lawmakers blocked the group on Twitter. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that state officials agreed Thursday to pay the legal bills for One Wisconsin Now's attorneys. A federal judge ruled in January that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. John Nygren, both Republicans, had infringed on the group's First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge William Conley concluded the three lawmakers had acted unconstitutionally by blocking the group on Twitter "because of its prior speech or identity."