Letter from Rep. Danou: Strong ethics in Government neededThe time is now to stand for strong ethics in Wisconsin Government.
By: Rep. Chris Danou, Pierce County Herald
The time is now to stand for strong ethics in Wisconsin Government.
In the past, Wisconsin has had a longstanding reputation for clean, open and honest government. Early in the last decade Wisconsin was forced to rebuild its reputation for good government when the capital caucus scandal left a stain on Wisconsin’s proud reputation for strong ethics. As a result, the state passed some of the strongest ethics reforms in the nation as a way to clean up our government. Recently that reputation has been in question in the legislature. Unfortunately in the past few months, we have been hearing about a new scandal on a regular basis.
These scandals have touched all branches of Wisconsin government. Many of the governor’s top advisors have been involved in an ongoing criminal investigation, Republican legislators have signed secrecy oaths to keep their redistricting plan hidden from their constituents and a Supreme Court justice accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of free legal services and refused to recuse himself when those same lawyers appeared before the court. I do want to mention under our system of justice all of the accused individuals are innocent until proven guilty. However, that should not stop us from recognizing that “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Our citizens deserve better from their government and it is time for our legislature to take action.
That’s why my Assembly Democratic colleagues and I are introducing new legislation titled: “Restoring Integrity,” a package of the ethics legislation that would curtail those abuses of power and bring integrity, public involvement and transparency back to our state government institutions.
Some of the bills included in our package would undo the governor’s new political appointments, stop unlimited fundraising during a recall petition period, help restore faith in our judicial system with high recusal standards and ensure the legislature never again intentionally flouts the Open Meetings Law.
Prior to the recent polarization of our political system, Democrats and Republicans often worked together to improve the accountability and transparency of Wisconsin government. The legislation we are proposing is a set of basic, common-sense reforms that should receive bipartisan support.
Our citizens deserve to know their elected representatives are looking out for them, not just politically connected special interests. This legislation would go a long way toward restoring that trust and repairing the damage that’s been done to democracy in Wisconsin. Together, we can restore faith in Wisconsin’s government.