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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MPD-Republican Quid Pro Quo

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Wink wink, nod nod. There was a convenient understanding between a few rogue cops in the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) and state Republicans who continue to push unnecessary legislation. The agreement worked something like this: First, Republican legislators went to bat for police officers who have been accused of misconduct and fired from the force, a policy that has cost city taxpayers $4.4 million since 1990. While Milwaukee officials wanted to end the practice of paying police officers after they’ve been fired for committing felonies and misdemeanors, Republicans from outside of the city fought to keep these fired cops on the Milwaukee city payroll.

The MPD returned the favor by releasing a report on the November 2004 elections. It didn’t provide any new information that wasn’t uncovered by U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, former Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann and a host of investigators with the state and city. Both McCann and Biskupic concluded that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. End of story.

Despite the fact that both a Democratic prosecutor, McCann, and a Republican prosecutor, Biskupic, found no widespread fraud, that didn’t stop this unsigned report from going even one step further by advocating for an end to the state’s popular Election Day voter registration and to establish a voter ID for the polls.

These two recommendations just happen to be the favorite anti-democratic policies of the state Republican Party’s playbook. Not only would the recommendations reduce the number of people who would vote, especially the elderly, but they would also reduce the number of people who vote in traditionally Democratic areas, such as Milwaukee.

So that’s the convenient quid pro quo—Republican lawmakers went to bat for lawbreaking police officers, and unnamed police officers gave Republicans more ammunition for their bogus legislation. Leading the way were state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), two longtime incumbents who would both benefit from reducing the number of people who can vote.

The whole shameful affair gets even uglier. By releasing the report, these anonymous MPD officers politicized a nonpartisan bureaucracy, since it so clearly supported the position of the Republican Party. (And there are serious doubts that any MPD officers actually wrote the report, since it reads more like something written by a Republican political operative.) No government in the world allows their bureaucrats to participate in public-policy creation in this way.

Make no mistake. These MPD officers weren’t high-minded whistle-blowers rooting out corruption. Operating anonymously, they used their law enforcement credibility to support one political party’s attempt to stifle voter participation.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.