After spending the past four years denying that taxpayer money, state workers and public offices were used to run election campaigns, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti and one-time Foti aide Sherry Schultz are doing an about-face. They now admit what they strenuously denied for so long but contend it was all perfectly legal.
The argument made by their lawyers in the latest pre-trial legal brief stands in stark contrast to what the indicted lawmakers had been saying since 2001. For example, on May 27 of that year, Jensen told the Wisconsin State Journal the "Assembly Republican team has gone to extraordinary lengths to separate government work from campaign work. We insist that employees who wish to campaign do so on their own time and not on the taxpayer's dime."
When it became clear prosecutors had them dead to rights and could prove such statements were lies, a change in legal strategy was in order. Performing this 180-degree turn in legal posture required some creative logic. The lawyers started by blurring the distinction between the activities of private donor-supported legislative campaign committees and taxpayer-supported state offices. They acknowledged the legislators and state staffers were running the legislative campaign committees out of public offices using state resources, but argued that since the legislative campaign committees are legal entities engaged in lawful campaign activity, then it must have been legal for the state officials and their staff to participate in those activities – never mind that the work was done on state time and with taxpayer money in clear violation of state law.
That's like arguing that someone who cannot legally own a gun can use a gun to hunt because hunting is a legal activity.