State Government and Political Roundup: A botched operation by the ATF in Milwaukee draws ire of lawmakersWisconsin News
-- More federal lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of a faulty operation in Milwaukee by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
MILWAUKEE - More federal lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of a faulty operation in Milwaukee by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
The agency set up a fake storefront to buy illegal guns and drugs from felons. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the place was burglarized after 10 months – $35,000 in merchandise were stolen – and authorities left a sensitive document behind with personal information about the undercover agents involved. Menomonee Falls House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner said he would conduct his own investigation as the chair of the House Sub-Committee on Crime. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he contacted the Justice Department on behalf of David Salkin, the owner of the building. Salkin said the agency owes him $15,000 for damages and utility bills. The ATF claims it’s much less. Johnson says the ATF is threatening Salkin instead of paying up. The senator called the operation “reckless at best … and it cannot be allowed to continue.” Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said the account of the botched operation made the ATF sound like the Keystone Kops. And as the ranking member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, he promised to ask questions. An agency spokesman is not commenting on the investigation. The U.S. attorney only mentions the good things about the operation – the seizures of 145 guns and 30 arrests. The Journal-Sentinel said the wrong people were charged in three of those arrests.
Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said he would have listened to environmental opponents of the proposed mining bill – but they didn’t contact him. The liberal group One Wisconsin Now complained that mining opponents did not have the same privilege as Gogebic Taconite did in drafting the legislation. Gogebic is the Florida company that seeks to open a large iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Senator Grothman, of West Bend, said he only heard from the Wisconsin Wetlands Federation while the latest package was being drafted. And that was only after a resident had asked the group to call the lawmaker. One Wisconsin Now and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Gogebic officials helped write the law they would follow if it passes. The firm reportedly came up with changes in wetland, stream, and groundwater regulations. Democrats have criticized those changes, saying they’ll result in a relaxing of environmental protections. Republicans have denied that.
State officials are warning businesses about a scam that involves government paperwork. The Department of Financial Institutions says a firm called Corporate Records Service is getting businesses to pay them $125 to fill out a government form that’s not required. State division administrator Paul Holzem says the document is called an “Annual Minutes Form” – and while it looks official, there’s no need to file such a thing. He said those who do file it pay unnecessary fees – and they run the risk of giving out their confidential information. Corporate Records Service is not registered with the state’s financial agency. It offers to help businesses maintain minutes of their meetings with stockholders and board members.