Brian Burke, once the powerful co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee and odds-on favorite to be elected state attorney general, is now a convicted felon and is headed to jail. He is about to lose his freedom and probably his law license, but not his lobbying credentials. According to the state Ethics Board, which seemingly has never seen ethical corner-cutting it could not tolerate, Burke can remain a licensed lobbyist. Apparently, the Ethics Board is OK with him calling clients and lawmakers from a prison cell.
As we reported in a previous blog, after Burke quit the attorney general race and left the Senate to turn his attention to his legal defense, he was hired by Appleton paper company Arjo Wiggins to lobby for the company.
Not to be outdone by the Ethics Board when it comes to adding insult to injury already done to Wisconsin's battered reputation for clean government, the Elections Board says it has no problem with Burke paying restitution to the state's taxpayers for money he stole from the public treasury with campaign funds he collected by shaking down special interest donors. Fortunately, Burke's prosecutor, Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, says he'll ask the judge in the case to prohibit the use of campaign contributions to pay restitution. Stay tuned.