The tale of missing travel receipts that was told over the weekend by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a familiar ring to it. What has evidently now become standard operating procedure in at least the upper echelons of the executive branch was once an all-too-common election campaign practice that was exposed and then banned in early 2006.
We started noticing that credit card transactions by campaigns were being reported in a way that made it impossible to determine who was being paid for goods or services rendered. Campaign finance reports would attribute vaguely described expenses to the credit card company and not the vendor who was the actual recipient of the campaign funds. Governor Jim Doyle was among the worst offenders.
The state Elections Board was called upon to prohibit the practice and require meaningful disclosure of how money is really changing hands in campaign business transacted by credit card. In March 2006, the board did just that, adopting a new policy requiring campaigns to disclose the vendor's name and address as well as the date, amount and purpose of any expense over $20.
Doyle evidently didn't take any lesson from that episode because the veil he has been routinely throwing over expenses related to his travel as governor is eerily reminiscent of the one his campaign used to throw over all manner of spending he did while seeking the office in the first place.