Monday, October 24, 2005

McCabe Hopes Chvala's Sentence 'More Severe' Than Burke's

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Mike McCabe said even if Chvala is sentenced to multiple felonies and ordered to serve a year in jail, it still would not be sufficient punishment in his eyes.

"I think that Chvala's punishment should be more severe (than Burke's)," McCabe said, indicating that Burke was not charged with extortion, while Chvala was.

"As political corruption charges go, extortion is right there at the top of the list...extortion is a high-octane charge," said McCabe.

He said he wouldn't be surprised if the plea agreement recommended a year of jailtime or less for Chvala, but noted that it is not a foregone conclusion that Flanagan would accept the sentencing. He added that whatever happens, he expects the charge of misconduct in office - the offense that tied together all of the major players in the caucus scandal - to stick.

"I don't think that will be lost on any prosecutor," said McCabe. "If they come to a plea agreement, they will be thinking of the other cases pending against other legislators and what they face."

Common Cause's Jay Heck said many expected Chvala to fight the charges during trial.

"I think there was some expectation Chuck would go down with flags flying and take a lot of people with him," Heck said.

Heck wondered if maybe Chvala's decision to admit to Flanagan his involvement in the operation of Independent Citizens for Democracy was background for the agreeement. "That he admitted his involvement might be one of the bases for it," Heck said.

Heck said he's expecting Chvala's sentencing recommendation to be at least as steep as the six month jail sentence Burke's facing in his case. "But then, it's a different prosecutor and different judge, so we'll see."

Heck thinks the prosecutors are getting the job done, despite the ex-pols not receiving nearly the amount of time behind bars they could have. "They're admitting their guilt," said Heck. "Three years ago there was a lot of talk that none of these guys would ever get convicted of anything."

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