Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Former Jensen Staffer Spent 50 Percent of Office Time on Campaign Activity

Former Jensen staffer Leigh (Himebaugh) Searl, the next on the stand after Kratochwill, testified that she photocopied checks made out to the Taxpayers for Jensen campaign committee in the speaker's office in 1999.

She said Jensen would bring the mail in a canvas bag to his legislative office from home, and then Chief of Staff Brett Healy would sort the mail. Healy would then ask Searl to copy the checks, file the copies in a binder, and log the contributions.

Searl estimated 50 percent of her time in Jensen's office was spent on campaign activity. She worked in Jensen's office off and on before May 2000, then worked for the caucus from May to November of 2000.

Around May 2000, while an employee of the Assembly Republican Caucus, Searl was moved to an office in the Republican Party of Wisconsin, where she said she shared an office with "Mr. Graber." She said she spent "100 percent" of her time working for Taxpayers for Jensen, and did campaign finance reports for Jensen and another candidate whose name she couldn't recall.

Searl left state employment in November 2000. She said between May and November, she interacted with Jensen a couple times a month, and recalled conversations with him about contributors who had "maxed out." She also remembers him inquiring of her how much particular supporters had given and their phone numbers.

She said she never used any leave, sick or vacation time during the tenure, other than a day or two to do a lit drop for an unrelated campaign.

Searl said Jensen staffer Jodie Tierney told her in May 2000 that they were going to try to get her paid by Taxpayers for Jensen instead of the state. "I said fine, and that's as far as it went," Searl said.

Searl said under cross-examination from Meyer that Jensen never assigned her work, and that the work was always assigned by Jensen's senior staffers.

She also testified that she took vacation days to do a lit drop because, "to do a lit drop was considered campaign work, and we were instructed to take a vacation day."

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