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Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

Issue of the Week: The Fox in the Henhouse

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The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) is supposed to look out for the public interest when it regulates utilities’ rates, sales and expansion plans.

Unfortunately, Gov. Scott Walker’s latest appointee to the PSC hasn’t a clue about what’s in the public interest.

Outgoing Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) has one of the worst records in the Legislature. From the Castle Doctrine and concealed carry’s lax training requirements to iron ore mining and voter ID, Suder has championed some truly awful ideas that harm Wisconsin’s way of life.

This shouldn’t be surprising, since Suder has a long history with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Washington, D.C.-based front group that writes model legislation that serves the interest of its corporate sponsors by deregulating and privatizing public assets. It seems that ALEC’s corporate and legislative members think that government works best when it’s working in their own self-interest.

Speaking of self-interest, it was reported that Suder created a sweetheart $500,000 grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation and slipped it into the state budget at the last minute. The group is led by Suder’s former chief of staff, who now lobbies for the Koch brothers-sponsored Americans for Prosperity, another front group that only likes government spending when it’s collecting the spoils.

Unfortunately, Suder is just another typical Walker appointee to the PSC. The organization is chaired by former legislator Phil Montgomery, another ALEC superstar; commissioner Ellen Nowak worked for ethically challenged Assembly Majority Leader Scott Jensen and served as deputy director of School Choice Wisconsin, which works to subsidize private and religious schools with taxpayer dollars.

It’s pretty safe to say that Walker’s version of the PSC favors big corporations and has little concern for the common good, just like the governor himself. So when your utility bills skyrocket and major corporations trample all over our environment and think of the state’s natural resources as their own, thank Walker—and his corporate-sponsored Public Service Commission.