Friday, March 31, 2006

Hurley: State Must Name Thompson's Alleged Conspirators

The defense for DOA employee Georgia Thompson submitted four reply documents this week to the prosecution's consolidated response to pretrial motions, reiterating its arguments to dismiss the case against her.

Thompson, charged with two felony counts for allegedly "bid-rigging" a contract so it would be awarded to Gov. Jim Doyle contributor Adelman Travel, is facing a May 15 trial.

Hurley filed a reply supporting his motion for bill of particulars, and makes the case that the prosecutors have failed to define terms like "political considerations," saying it "is a term that has no discernible meaning."

Hurley asks how he can mount a defense on a charge of "bid-rigging" without knowing who his client allegedly conspired with to rig the bid. "By its very nature, 'bid-rigging' necessarily involves more than one person, because collusion is its
essence," Hurley writes.

The charge "prompted Thompson's initial request to identify who, if Thompson did not act as a principal, she aided and/or abetted, or, alternatively, who did the same with regard to her. So too, she requested that the government identify any unindicted co-conspirators as well as those individuals (assuming that there are any) whose interest were advanced by the accused's alleged conduct."

In an 11-page reply supporting the dismissal of the indictment, defense attorney Hurley proposes a hypothetical of an employee who saves the state money on a contract and is nominated for an "Employee of the Year" award.

"Now, if the law is as the government asserts, then the state employee could be charged with precisely the same offenses as Georgia Thompson, for precisely the same reasons," Hurley writes. "In both cases, the motivation of the employee benefits the state; and there is, additionally, the possibility of a job benefit and making her supervisor look good, based on her actions. Yet this is not a crime and, for that reason, the Indictment must be dismissed."

In a brief supporting the dismissal of count two of the indictment, Hurley tweaks the prosecution for citing United States v. Rosenberg.

"More somberly, when at this late date the United States cites its treatment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as an exemplar of what is lawful and right, then Thompson and the whole citizenry need help ... That case did not quite mark AUSA Roy M. Cohn's worst hour -- character assassination and deceits on behalf of Senator Joseph McCarthy perhaps claim that distinction. ... the entire Rosenberg case did not mark the federal government's best hour, either. That the government today aspires to no better must discourage anyone who would not see a sovereign beggar justice."

A fourth filing argues for the inclusion of "friend of the court" briefs filed by AFT-Wisconsin and its affiliated bargaining units.

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Former Madison Police Union Director Gets 15 Months for Embezzling over $95,000

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz has sentenced former Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) executive director Stanley James Kluss to to 15 months in prison without parole, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and full restitution, for embezzling more than $95,000 from the WPPA.

The WPPA, located in Madison, is a labor organization representing approximately 11,000 police officers in 400 local entities throughout Wisconsin and part
of Michigan.

On January 20, Kluss pleaded guilty to obtaining cash advances on credit cards, submitting false reimbursement claims for mileage on WPPA vehicles, and receiving unauthorized vacation and pension payments when he was responsible for the daily operation of the WPPA office in Madison.

See the U.S. DOJ release

South Milwaukee Mayoral Mishap Draws Attention to Race

Just days before spring election voters will cast their ballots in the South Milwaukee mayoral race, candidate Jim Logic has admitted to being a legal resident of California when he voted in Wisconsin elections in 2000 and 2001.

Logic's admission came after attorney Michael Maistelman filed a complaint with the offices of AG Peg Lautenschlager, U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.

Maistelman was hired to craft and deliver the complaint by former mayoral candidate Thomas Zingale. In a statement, Maistelman said Logic "may have committed federal perjury by lying in his federal bankruptcy petition, and he may have committed voter fraud in Wisconsin by illegally voting when he was not a resident of this state."

See the original release and complaint

See Maistelman's follow-up release

In a story today, Logic called the mishap "a mistake," and his attorney Tom Simon wrote off Maistelman's complaint as a last-minute political attack. Logic will face Common Council President Thomas Zepeckiin in Tuesday's election.

See the story

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said the matter is currently under review, but hinted at the potential for charges, saying that Logic's statements about his voting record in the newspaper, "seem irreconcilable."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Foti Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail

Former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti was forcefully rebuked by the judge at his sentencing today, then sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years probation. Prosecutor Brian Blanchard had recommended 30 days in jail and two years probation.

Dane County Judge Steven Ebert said Foti "aided and abetted" the corruption in the Capitol. Had Foti gone to trial, and the same evidence had been presented, it "surely would have resulted in a conviction," Ebert said.

"You were a part of a broader, deceitful assault, I think, against the people of Wisconsin," Ebert said.

"In all other respects, you acted honorably. It is certainly a shame that partisan politics, and pure greed or allowing the ends to justify the means, clouded your good character in this case," Ebert said.

Foti pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation in January, and as part of his plea agreed to testify in any future related cases. Dane County DA Blanchard said he felt Foti complied with that agreement, but Ebert admonished Foti for his behavior on the witness stand during the trial of former Rep. Scott Jensen. Ebert said he noted at least five times during Foti's testimony when Foti seemed "evasive or uncooperative" and the prosecution had to impeach what he was saying with prior statements.

"Your demeanor and the content of your testimony, in my opinion, left something to be desired," Ebert said.

Foti was also fined $1,000 plus costs, and was ordered to serve 240 hours of community service as a condition of probation.

Ebert ordered Foti to begin serving his jail sentence within 60 days, but his attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, asked if he could begin sooner. Gimbel suggested Foti begin serving on Easter Sunday and Ebert agreed.

Though Ebert said he has no problem with allowing work release, he did say if it were up to him, Foti would be spending his nights in the jail. "My feeling about the issue of confinement means confinement and not electronic monitoring," Ebert said.

Ebert reserved a ruling on an order of restitution until a later date. Blanchard said the judge expressed that he would like to handle the restitution for all the "caucus scandal" Republicans -- former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, former Assistant Majority Leader Bonnie Ladwig, and former Foti aide Sherry Schultz -- on the same date. Blanchard said that date may or not be May 16, when Jensen, Ladwig and Schultz are scheduled for sentencing.

The restitution request from Blanchard in the Foti case included $27,981.75 for legal fees paid by the state, and $306,675 to repay salary and benefits paid to Schultz.

In his pre-sentence statement, Blanchard said Foti's "liability was less than that of Scott Jensen."

"It was essentially Scott Jensen's project, although it was on the payroll of Mr. Foti," he said.

Gimbel said his client suffered "public humiliation, embarrassment and extraordinary financial consequences," and said he took responsibility for his actions.

"He stepped to the plate, he took responsibility, he eliminated the chance to win the case by not going to trial, and I think that's a very significant step toward recognizing and accepting responsibility for the consequences of that behavior," Gimbel said.

Foti has agreed in writing to reimburse the state for his legal fees, to the fine of $1,000, and "agreed in concept" to some restitution relating to Schultz, Gimbel said.

In a statement read to Ebert, Foti was contrite. "I accept full responsibility for the wrongful conduct that brought me to this court today," he said. Foti added that because others were committing the acts he was accused of, it didn't make it right.

Foti apologized to his former constituents and his family for causing them embarrassment.

Foti, with his daughter, a freshman at Marquette University, under his arm, spoke briefly with reporters as they swarmed around him after the hearing. He was cornered as he waited for the elevator to reach the 8th floor of the courthouse.

He said he disagreed with Ebert's characterization of his Jensen case testimony. "I said everything honestly and by the book, and I assume that Jensen's attorney wouldn't have attacked me during closing if he felt I had some useful comments," Foti said.

At the Jensen trial, Jensen's attorney Stephen Meyer called Foti "pathetic" and said "he traded his integrity for 30 pieces of silver."

Asked if he'd appeal the sentence, Foti said, "I'm going to take a good, strong look at it."

"I haven't decided that yet. We'll just let it settle down for a bit," said Gimbel, adding they have 60 days to appeal.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Two Former Union Presidents Indicted

Former SEIU Local 150 presidents Dan Iverson and Deborah Timko have been indicted by a Milwaukee grand jury on charges that they authorized fraudulent payments to themselves and others, fed officials say.

Iverson became 150 president in 1984, and hired Timko in 1998. He appointed her to the union's executive board and later as vice president. When Iverson resigned, Timko succeeded him as president. In exchange, the indictment alleges, Timko authorized payments totaling $50,000 to Iverson.

See the release from the US DOJ: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/032206DOJSEIU.pdf

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Prosecution Counters DOA Employee's Arguments for Case Dismissal

The office of U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic late Wednesday afternoon submitted its response to the defense's pre-trial motions for dismissal in the trial of DOA employee Georgia Thompson. The 39-page document comes as both sides are preparing for the May 15 trial.

The prosecution document summarizes Thompson's position as "essentially that a public official who rigs the bidding process for a government contract ... commits no federal offense if she receives no direct monetary payment."

The prosecution rebuttal: "Bid rigging for private gain -- such as to enhance the public official's job security or to garner political advantage for her supervisors -- constitutes both honest services fraud and a misapplication of federal funds, both of which are federal criminal offenses."

The filing also says the defense request for additional information to prepare its defense should be denied and says the prosecution has already "made available more than 3,500 pages of discovery."

See the document: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060322GTresponse.pdf

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jensen, Schultz, Ladwig Sentencing May 16

The sentencing of former GOP Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen has been set for May 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Jensen was convicted on three felonies and one misdemeanor count of misconduct in office earlier this month. He's set to leave office today, according to a resignation letter he sent last week.

Court officials say sentencing for Sherry Schultz and former GOP state Rep. Bonnie Ladwig will be held on the same day. Schultz, a former legislative aide, will be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. on one felony count. Ladwig, the former assistant majority leader who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor but was not called to testify against Jensen and Schultz, is to be sentenced at 8:15 a.m.

Former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti's sentencing is scheduled for a week from today, March 27 at 1:30 p.m. Foti pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain and testified at Jensen's trial.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Union: Charges Against DOA's Thompson Put State Employees at Risk

AFT-Wisconsin has announced the filing of an amicus brief in the case against DOA civil servant Georgia Thompson, saying in a release that "the rationale for this criminal prosecution could have adverse repercussions for many state employees, and the services they provide to Wisconsin's citizens."

Thompson is not a member of the union -- the union filed the brief on behalf of its members. The union's filings argue that groups who could be affected by the logic used in the Thompson indictment include employees at DOT, DOA, DATCP, DNR, and DFI, among other agencies. The filing says employees are concerned that "the routine, lawful performance of their jobs may put them potentially at risk for similar criminal prosecution."

"The legal theory of the Thompson indictment would extend potential criminal liability for federal mail fraud to any public employee whose official actions result in a benefit to political donors/supporters of superiors," the brief says, as part of an argument that the case against Thompson should be dismissed.

*Read the brief: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/060314AFTbrief.pdf
*See a related motion:
http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/060314AFTmotion.pdf

According to the AFT press release: "The prosecution's overreaching and unprecedented federal charges contain no allegation of fraud or misrepresentation, no allegation of tangible personal gain and no allegation of a wrongful act, and put all state employees at risk for criminal prosecution for the routine, lawful performance of their jobs.''

See the AFT-Wisconsin release:
http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=57264

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Schultz Out at State Republican Party

According to RPW E.D. Rick Wiley, veteran GOP fundraiser Sherry Schultz will be leaving her party fundraising job at the end of this week. Schultz was convicted on a "caucus scandal" count by a Dane Co. jury over the weekend.

"We have mutually agreed to part ways," said Wiley. "We wish her the best of luck in anything that she faces." Some of Schultz' responsibilities will be absorbed by RPW staff, until a permanent replacement is found.

On Saturday, a Dane Co. jury convicted Schultz of one count of felony misconduct for misusing her position as an aide to former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti. Schultz was charged, along with former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, with using Capitol resources for the benefit of GOP campaigns.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Jensen Announces Resignation

Rep. Scott Jensen today announced his resignation from the state Assembly. The text of his resignation letter is below.

Dear Mr. Speaker:

It is with great sadness that I inform you of my intention to resign from my position as State Representative for the 98th Assembly District. For fourteen years, it has been my great honor to represent my neighbors in Waukesha County. It has also been an honor to serve in the Assembly with so many public-spirited legislators and staff over the years. I have always believed that public service is a noble calling. Each day I served in the Assembly confirmed my belief. I am confident my constituents will send to the Assembly another representative who hears that call. In the meantime, it is my intention to wrap up my remaining constituent cases by March 21st so that I can then devote my full attention to my wife and our three young children. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Scott Jensen


On Sunday, Democrat Sterling Lynk, running for Jensen's 98th Assembly District seat, had called for Jensen's resignation.

"Wisconsin has witnessed first hand how Jensen turned his back on his neighbors in an effort to advance his own political agenda of one day becoming governor. I call on Scott Jensen to resign his seat immediately," Lynk said.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Even More Verdict Reaction

Click below to see reaction press releases from:
*Kathleen Falk
*Common Cause in Wisconsin
*Gov. Jim Doyle
*Michael Murphy, executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

What's Next?

According to a previous report, Jensen can stay in office until a sentence is imposed.

Judge Steven Ebert said he wanted to schedule sentencing within 30 days, which was OK with the prosecution, but not the defense attorneys. They asked for more time to consider their arguments, and Ebert said the date will be set for some time in late April or early in May.

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Other Lawmakers Convicted/Charged While in Office

See a WisPolitics list of legislators accused of wrongdoing between 1942 and 1995.

See a similar list from MilwaukeeChannel.com.

In the late 1980s, Democratic Sen. Dick Shoemaker resigned from office as part of a plea bargain after he faced five felony charges. See a previous Courtwatch Blog post on Shoemaker.

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More Verdict Reaction

Rep. Scott Jensen

Jensen delivered this statement to reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom, after the verdict was announced:

"I just want to thank all of our family, my friends and my constituents for the incredible support they've given me over the years. My family and I will be deeply grateful to them forever. They have been amazing with their prayers and their support over the last few years. The only plans I have at the moment are to go home and hug my wife and kids."

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard

Comments from an impromptu press conference Blanchard held with reporters outside the courtroom. See a webcast of the press conference.

"I think the jury's verdict is a fair one. I think it does show that no one's above the law."

On the status of the investigation:

"The matters raised initially by the Wisconsin State Journal in of May 2001 have now been thoroughly investigated. We've set the priorities we felt we had to set with the resources we have. ... We set priorities and I think we've now completed our work in these matters."

Blanchard's other thoughts:

"I think this investigation showed that no one's above the law, that everyone's responsible for their actions, whether they have a position of power and influence or whether they're someone who doesn't have access to those tools. ...

"It was always clear that if there was misconduct here, the responsibility for that would fall on the elected officials who had the power to set the rules. I think the jury here heard a lot of that over the course of three weeks. In any conduct, it's the people who set the rules who are the ones who are responsible. ...

"I was very impressed by a lot of people in the Capitol and around state government who simply answered our questions, even though it was painful -- it put them in a bad light. A number of people, were very impressive -- not just Lyndee Wall, who's gotten a lot of attention, but others, including some who testified here, who simply did what we expect people to do when they've been asked questions by law enforcement -- tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. ...

"It's kind of a sad day, I think, for Wisconsin. I think these cases have really highlighted the potential for abuse of power. So I don't think it's a happy day for anybody here. I think the jury thought carefully, considered the evidence and returned a fair verdict."

Assembly Speaker John Gard

Assembly Speaker John Gard, who succeeded Jensen in the position after the Waukesha Republican stepped down as a response to the "caucus scandal" allegations, was saddened by the verdict.

"I'm just sad. I'm just sad for Scott, his wife and his kids," he said.

Gard wasn't ready yet to answer questions about Jensen's future in the Assembly and as a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.

"Everybody's going to abide by the laws, and, you know, it's too early to know exactly all that stuff ... I'm not going to go down that road, I'm going to let them deal with the toughest day of their life."

Republican Party Executive Director Rick Wiley

Rick Wiley, executive director of the state GOP, called the situation unfortunate, but said it won't hurt Republicans in this election year. "Scott Jensen has been an integral part of the Republican Party, and he's done a good job. ...The criminal justice system has run its course, and we thank Scott Jensen."

He said "obviously losing a Scott Jensen never helps," but the Republican team and candidates will do fine, he said, especially in the Assembly, where a strong majority has been built. "Democrats are going to try to use it, but I don't think they'll be successful."

Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke

"You never know instantaneously how things like a criminal trial will affect the next election but it can't be good news for Republicans in the Legislature. ... I don't take any great joy in seeing a public official convicted of felonies.

Wineke was asked if the conviction would be used by Democrats while campaigning in the 2006 election

"I think it is too early to tell -- within a half hour or 45 minutes of the verdict coming down -- to even have a discussion of whether that is going to be good or bad or how that is going to be used would be premature."

Wineke said that though parties have some say over what their candidates do, they don't have complete say over what an individual may or not do in regards to using the issue for campaign purposes.

Does he think it will encourage any more candidates to run on the Dem side?

"If this encourages any more we are going to have a full plate."

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Executive Director Mike McCabe

"It certainly vindicates the prosecutors," said McCabe. "Five years ago almost, they were saying all this was much ado about nothing and this was a witchhunt and the charges would never amount to anything. And now the prosecutors have batted 1.000."

McCabe said the case was about a "raw abuse of power."

"Top leaders in the Capitol from Jensen and Chvala, to Foti and Ladwig, they were the leaders in the Capitol and they were presiding over a crooked system. They were stealing from the taxpayers."

He also said it was about accountability:

"When politicians abuse power they need to be held accountable for that. It doesn't matter if they didn't invent these practices, they certainly perpetuated them and took it all to a new level."

McCabe on Jensen's future:

"I think he heads to prison. I think he definitely should do prison time. The harsher the punishment the stronger the message is sent."

McCabe said the final chapter of the caucus scandal has yet to be written.

"It is important that a message gets sent to the current bosses at the Capitol. This is not the final chapter in this story - the final chapter is still being written. Even though this appears to close the book on the caucus scandal, this is not the end of the story.

"This story is not about a few bad apples, it is about a system that is rotten the core."

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager:

"I would like to congratulate Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard on a successful prosecution and wish to thank the Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agents and Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte for their integral roles in the prosecution of this case.

"I hope this verdict will signal to all government officials the need to follow state law and will stress the need for clean government, clean campaigns and the essential responsibility to keep official government duties separate from political campaigning.

"The outcome of these landmark convictions must once again impress upon us all the need to keep campaign fundraising and the influence of special interests out of the halls of the State Capitol."

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Verdict Announcement Brings No Visible Reaction from Jensen

Rep. Scott Jensen sat stoically today as Judge Steven Ebert read the verdict of guilty on all counts in his political misconduct trial.

The nine-woman, three-man jury announced their verdict at about 11:45 a.m. today, after nearly 17 hours of deliberation. The jury chose as their foreman a man who during selection said that he worked for the state Department of Agriculture, and served on a village board.

Despite the tension in the courtroom, Jensen, wearing a dark suit, had little outward reaction as the verdict was read. Friends and family who were present in the courtroom seemed to have their breath taken away. Jensen's mother wept as his sister put her arm around her shoulder. Jensen's wife didn't attend, staying at home with the couple's children and with friends.Jensen's co-defendant, Sherry Schultz, also had little outward reaction as the judge announced that she, too, had been found guilty.

In a brief statement to the press outside the courtroom, Jensen became emotional as he thanked his friends and supporters. "My family and I will be deeply grateful to them forever. They have been amazing with their prayers and their support over the last few year," he said.

Schultz left the courtroom through a back exit, avoiding reporters.

Before excusing the jurors, Ebert thanked them for their duty, and commended them on their copious note-taking. "It's obvious you've given this matter a great deal of thought because you've been out for many hours on this matter," he said.

Ebert said he would like to schedule sentencing within 30 days, which was OK with the prosecution, but not the defense attorneys. They asked for more time to consider their arguments, and Ebert said the date will be set for some time in late April or early in May.

A legal source who had been following the trial expects the Jensen team to file an appeal within the next 10 days, possibly on the grounds that the jury should have been chosen from a pool outside Dane County.

The length of deliberation, the source said, could hurt Jensen's chances of a successful appeal because it "shows they had a jury that thought long and hard about it."

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See Webcasts of the Verdict Announcement and Courtroom Reaction

Verdict webcasts:

TO USE WISPOLITICS.COM/MEDIASITE WEBCASTS
--You must have a high-speed line.
--Click on the chosen link above.
--Wait until it loads and then adjust volume on your speakers and on the + - scale below the screen on the right.
--Use the "slide" cues above the screen on the right to page through the interview to the spot you want.
--Watch and listen, or minimize the screen, listen and do other computer work.
Questions? Contact: webmaster@wispolitics.com

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Verdict Reaction

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard: "I think it shows that no one is above the law."

Defendant Scott Jensen: "The only plans I have at the moment are to go home and hug my wife and kids."

Did the jury return the correct verdict? Vote and voice your opinion in the online poll at www.wisopinion.com. Scroll down to see the poll.

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Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts for Jensen, Schultz

A Dane Co. jury, after about 17 hours of deliberation, decided this morning that Waukesha Co. state Rep. Scott Jensen, R-Town of Brookfield, was guilty on all counts.

The jury also decided that former GOP legislative aide Sherry Schultz was guilty.

Jensen, the former Assembly speaker, had been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with allegations he used Capitol resources for the benefit of his campaign and those of other Republicans.

Schultz, a veteran GOP fundraiser, had been charged with one count of felony misconduct for misusing her position as an aide on former Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti's payroll.

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Verdict Set to Be Announced

The court says the jury will be back in the next 20 minutes to announce its verdict.

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Jurors Return For Day 3

The jury returned for deliberations around 8:30 this morning.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Jury Quits for the Night

The jury is done for the night and plans to return for deliberations at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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Dinner Comes, Still No Sign of a Verdict

The jury remains in deliberation, closing in on its 13th hour of trying to decide the fate of state Rep. Scott Jensen and former legislative aide Sherry Schultz.

Around 7 p.m., the jurors ordered dinner from The Esquire, a restaurant on Sherman Avenue in Madison.

In an impromptu elevator encounter, Judge Steven Ebert said he's willing to let the jurors go as late as they like, adding that he's had juries deliberate on a case until 5 in the morning.

If necessary, the jury can continue deliberations through the weekend, including Sunday, he said.

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Jurors Ask Another Question

At about 3:30 p.m., the jurors had a second question.

Judge Steven Ebert read the question in court: "Under the law is hiring and directing the hiring the same?"

Ebert said he would tell the jurors that he can not answer them directly. "You must find your answer from the evidence and as I have instructed you in the law."

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Court Convenes to Answer Jury Question

Judge Steven Ebert called a brief court session to answer a jury question shortly after 1 p.m. Jurors were confused about whether they were to consider both "acts of omission and acts of commission" when deciding the fate of Jensen.

Prosecutors Brian Blanchard and Roy Korte attended the session in person, and defense attorneys Stephen Morgan and Stephen Meyer participated via phone.

The question from the jury indicated that there was confusion between the charges as written and the jury instructions. The jurors were told by the judge during jury instructions that either commission or omission can be considered.

Ebert said he would answer the jury's question by telling them to follow the law as given in the jury instructions.

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Jury Resumes Deliberations

The jury in the Scott Jensen/Sherry Schultz trial resumed deliberation at 8:30 a.m. this morning.

The jury was given the case at about 6 p.m. last night after about five hours of closing statements from the attorneys. They worked until a little after 8 p.m., then called it a night.

Judge Steven Ebert said he wasn't going to place any time limits on the deliberations. "As long as they want to deliberate, they can deliberate," Ebert said.

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Webcasts of Closing Statements Available

See new WisPolitics/Mediasite webcasts of the trial's closing arguments:

TO USE WISPOLITICS.COM/MEDIASITE WEBCASTS
--You must have a high-speed line.
--Click on the chosen link above.
--Wait until it loads and then adjust volume on your speakers and on the + - scale below the screen on the right.
--Use the "slide" cues above the screen on the right to page through the interview to the spot you want.
--Watch and listen, or minimize the screen, listen and do other computer work.
Questions? Contact: webmaster@wispolitics.com

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Verdict Yet; Jury Done Until Morning

The jury has finished its deliberations for the day and is set to return at 8:30 a.m. after being sequestered overnight.

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Case Goes to the Jury

Closing arguments in the case against Rep. Scott Jensen and former legislative staffer Sherry Schultz have ended, wrapping up shortly before 6 p.m.

After Judge Steven Ebert gave some final instructions, the jury was released to deliberate. Three men from the nine woman, six man jury were culled out before deliberations began.

Jurors are scheduled to meet for roughly an hour before Ebert will check in with them to ask about their progress. At that point, if they haven't reached a verdict, he'll leave it up to jurors to decide whether to ccontinue deliberations tonight or start fresh in the morning.

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Morgan: Prosecution 'Doesn't Have the Evidence' to Convict Schultz

Defense attorney Stephen Morgan took a different approach with his closing statement than Meyer. Where Meyer appeared mocking and tightly wound, Morgan came across as relaxed and low-key.

He said he wanted the jurors to think about the atmosphere that existed when Schultz walked into the ARC office.

Morgan conceded that Schultz helped candidates with campaign finance reports, pushed lazy legislators to fundraise, created donor lists and other campaign-related work. "She did. She helped people -- that was her job," he said.

But to prove her charge of aiding and abetting, Morgan said, the prosecution has to show she had knowledge that a crime was being committed. He said the state has not proven that, and in fact had not given the jury "one iota of evidence" to that end.

"Mr. Blanchard ignored that. Why? I think it's obvious -- he doesn't have the evidence."

He also said Schultz did not do the things the prosecution accused her of to the degree they assert.

He picked out the testimony of Charlene Rodriguez, whose testimony regarding how many times she saw Schultz changed between the John Doe investigation and the trial. He said memories fade over the years, and suggested witness testimony was tainted by preparation by the prosecutors. "I don't think any of these witnesses know for sure anymore," he said.

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Meyer Focuses Criticism on Richard Testimony

Meyer focused heavily on former Jensen staffer Richard's testimony, and tried to discount it. He called her claim that she put the host committee together for the annual Jensen pig roast fundraiser in 1997 "absolute B.S."

He said Jensen was brought up to trust people to do the right thing, and that is how he has conducted himself. "Honest people trust. Dishonest people see dishonesty. He trusted," Meyer told the jury.

Meyer called Richard's claim that Jensen solicited money from lobbyists from his office "pure, absolute garbage."

His closing statement ended after approximately one hour and 20 minutes.

Meyer's final quote to the jury: "I do hope that you do the right thing. That you find the truth. That you find the justice, and let Scott go home to his family."

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Meyer: Prosecutors 'Don't Have a Clue' How Legislature Works

As he has throughout the trial, Meyer said there was a gray area between legislative and political and campaign activity. He said staff was getting mixed messages because there was no clear definition of campaign activity.

"But these guys can figure it out," he said in a sarcastic tone, pointing at the prosecutors' table. "They've never sat in the Legislature. They don't have a clue."

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Meyer Criticizes Immunity Agreements

Meyer tweaked prosecutors for using immunity agreements, portraying them as a form of bribery, used to get the testimony they wanted.

"If I were to give a witness $5 for her testimony, I would be prosecuted -- and I should be," he said.

"They get to give them something more valuable than gold. They get to give them their freedom. They get to give Ray Carey his life back," Meyer said.

He said of Foti's testimony, "He sold his testimony for 30 pieces of silver. It was pathetic."

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Meyer: Jensen Tried to Reform Assembly

A passionate Meyer opened by reflecting on the testimony of David Prosser, Marlin Schneider and Mac Davis, who all testified to Jensen's character.

"They all took the stand, put their reputation on the line both here and in the public, to tell about the Scott Jensen they know - a man of the utmost integrity - his word is good."

Meyer said Jensen was trying to reform the Assembly. "He pushed that institution kicking and screaming to reform itself," he said.

Meyer called Richard's testimony "preposterous," particularly her claim that Jensen made solicitations to lobbyists from his office phone. Jensen rented space in the RPW to make fundraising calls, Meyer said, to avoid breaking "the age-old rule in the Capitol - you do not solicit money from your office."

He said Blanchard's recounting of gains in Jensen's campaign account didn't point out that Richard left in '99. "These numbers aren't due to Carrie Hoeper Richard. She wasn't a fundraiser. You know staff didn't make those calls. It has to be a legislator," Meyer said.

Meyers then tried to explain why Blanchard brought up the numbers. "He wanted to make it feel like money is dirty," he said mockingly. "That's what this case is about."

Meyer said off-state payroll amounts increased while Jensen was speaker, and said Jensen's reform agenda preceded the media reports the prosecution has claimed spurred the elimination of the caucuses. Jensen, Meyer said, told Scocos to do a top-to-bottom review of the Assembly operations in January 2001 -- the first articles appeared that May.

"Now the guy who tried to fix the system is standing there with a target on his back because he didn't fix it fast enough," Meyer said.

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Blanchard Says State-Paid Staffer Gave Jensen a Fundraising Boost

Blanchard wrote out some numbers from Jensen's campaign finance reports to attempt to show what he says is the impact of the hiring of Carrie (Hoeper) Richard on the Taxpayers for Jensen bottom line.

In July '97, the cash balance was $6,159. By July '98, it was $80,927. In July '99, the balance was $187,844, and by July '01 it was $347,708. Blanchard said Jensen was gearing up for a gubernatorial run.

He said fundraising may have been "just mowing the lawn" for Jensen, but using his state employees gave Jensen a dishonest advantage.

Blanchard said Jensen had a duty not to use state employees to carry out campaign work, and as a state employee Schultz' duty was not to do campaign work while on the state payroll. The verdict comes down to this narrow point, Blanchard said, "Did these two people violate their clear duty?"

During Blanchard's summation, Jensen looked on in disbelief, often shaking his head in apparent disagreement as Blanchard went on.

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Blanchard Returns to Themes of Duty, Money, Deception

In his closing argument, prosecutor Brian Blanchard returned to the three things the prosecution told the jury the case was about on the first day: duty, money and deception.

Blanchard said Jensen resorted to "misleading statements and outright falsehoods" to hide the "pervasive use" of state resources for a "campaign machine."

"Mr. Jensen decided the truth was too ugly to share, so he decided to keep up the deception," Blanchard said.

He asked the jury not to believe Jensen's defense that he wasn't aware that his staff was doing campaign work on state time.

"Everyone knew, including the boss Scott Jensen," Blanchard said.

"The ARC was one-stop shopping for campaigns," he added later.

To illustrate defendant Sherry Schultz's involvement, Blanchard focused on the testimony of two campaign treasurers, Stacy Ascher-Knowlton and Sharon Bartels, who said they got campaign finance advice and conduit and PAC checks from Schultz.

He also reminded jurors of Brian Dake and his testimony that Schultz' sole reason for attending planning meetings with legislators was to address campaign fundraising issues.

Blanchard also referred back to a note Schultz faxed to former Rep. Bonnie Ladwig about moving money around to candidates.

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Defense Rests; Closing Statements Set for 1 p.m.

The Schultz defense has rested. There will be no rebuttal witnesses, prosecutor Brian Blanchard said, meaning the evidentiary phase of the trial has ended.

Judge Steven Ebert is reading the closing instructions to the jury. Closing statements from each side will begin at 1 p.m.

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Witness Recalls Donating Campaign Finance Program to State

Today's only witness is Paul Tessmer, former database specialist for the Assembly Republican Caucus from May '98 to Dec. '01.

Tessmer created a software program for filing campaign finance reports. He said he developed the program after receiving an question about the possibility of creating such software from Jensen's former Chief of Staff Brett Healy, but said he didn't view it as a work assignment but a "professional challenge."

He said he worked on the program both on his own time and on state time while in the ARC office. Tessmer testified that defendant Sherry Schultz helped in creating the program, running tests on early versions to get the bugs out of the system.

In about 2003, after he left the ARC, state Elections Board director Kevin Kennedy contacted him about the program and he donated it to the state, Tessmer said.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Attorneys Rule Out Plea Deal

With the case against GOP Rep. Scott Jensen and former legislative staffer Sherry Schultz so close to getting to the jury, is there still a chance a deal could be cut?

The attorneys indicated today there is little or no chance.

"Absolutely not," said Jensen attorney Stephen Meyer. "Do you think we would have gone through three weeks of this?"

Morgan said there have been no settlement talks, and he didn't expect to be contacted by prosecutors before the case is left to the jury tomorrow.

Assistant AG Roy Korte, the co-prosecutor in the case, said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment on whether settlement talks have been going on during the trial.

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Attorneys Debate Jury Instructions

In an hour and forty-five minute conference today, the attorneys involved in the Jensen/Schultz case agreed on instructions for jurors when the case is turned over to them tomorrow.

The final witness in the case, former ARC employee Paul Tessmer, will be called at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow by Schultz's attorney, Morgan. Judge Steven Ebert set a tentative time of 1 p.m. for closing arguments, and estimated the jury may get the case by 5 p.m.

One point Ebert said jurors will be instructed on is that some evidence applies only to Jensen and not to Schultz. Another is that political activity includes campaign fundraising, maintenance of campaign finance reports, and recruitment of candidates.

Ebert said he was concerned that the defense may try to make a "mistake" argument in their closing, in particular that the charges were a result of a flaw in the criminal law.

Ebert said he has heard some testimony that brought up the mistake argument, such as a witness saying they were unaware of the law. But for either defense lawyer to make the mistake argument would be unwise, he warned. "I would think it would be contrary to the law to argue mistake or fashion your argument around that," he said.

"Just keep your arguments to the facts that you believe are proven," he advised.

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Jensen Trial Webcasts

Below are links to all the WisPolitics/Mediasite webcasts published so far in the trial of Rep. Scott Jensen and former legislative staffer Sherry Schultz.

TO USE WISPOLITICS.COM/MEDIASITE WEBCASTS
--You must have a high-speed line.
--Click on the chosen link above.
--Wait until it loads and then adjust volume on your speakers and on the + - scale below the screen on the right.
--Use the "slide'' cues above the screen on the right to page through the interview to the spot you want.
--Watch and listen, or minimize the screen, listen and do other computer work.
Questions? Contact: webmaster@wispolitics.com

MARCH 8

MARCH 7

MARCH 6

MARCH 3

MARCH 2

MARCH 1

FEBRUARY 27-28

FEBRUARY 24

FEBRUARY 23

FEBRUARY 22

FEBRUARY 21

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Jurors Excused Until Thursday

After Bartels' testimony the jury was let go until tomorrow morning. The attorneys plan to meet at 1 p.m. to discuss jury instructions.

Ebert said he expects closing arguments to commence at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

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Treasurer Says Schultz Helped on Finance Questions

Sharon Bartels, treasurer for Rep. Gabe Loeffelholz, also said Schultz was a resource for her when she had campaign finance questions.

She also testified that Schultz would call her and tell her to expect PAC and conduit checks.

Blanchard on cross asked Bartels where she thought Schultz worked, and she responded that she thought she worked for the Elections Board. Blanchard asked if she thought it was unusual for an Elections Board official to be sending the campaign checks. "Oh yeah - I didn't know anything when I took this job," Bartels said.

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Rep. Kestell Sought Out Schultz for Campaign Finance Advice

Rep. Steve Kestell said he first met Schultz at a gathering for new GOP legislative candidates in Madison in '98. He said the person he was supposed to meet was delayed, and Schultz humored him while he waited.

Once he got into his campaign, he found that Schultz was "the expert on campaign finance law." He said he would call her to ask questions about subjects like contribution limits. "If you make a mistake it's going to become a campaign issue," he said.

"The Elections Board is a very, very busy place, especially during election time," Kestell said. "If you don't understand it in the terms they're offering you, they don't have a lot of time to spend on the phone with you."

Kestell said, "Sherry cared whether or not I was going to get it right."

Kestell said he sought advice on how to do fundraising from Schultz, but she never participated directly in fundraising for him.

On cross, Blanchard asked Kestell who he thought Schultz worked for. "I believe I understood she worked for Majority Leader Foti." Blanchard said Kestell told investigators that he didn't know who Schultz worked for. Kestell said he didn't remember saying that.

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Elections Board Auditor Called in Schultz' Defense

The first witness today, Richard Bohringer, is lead campaign auditor at the state Elections Board. He has been employed there since 1990.

Bohringer said defendant Sherry Schultz would often visit the Elections Board to review reports or with questions about how to report something. He said he could go to Schultz to help reconcile problems with GOP Assembly candidates' campaign finance reports when the candidates were unresponsive.

"She was able to put them at ease that either they'd respond to me or they'd respond to her and she'd get me the information I needed," he said.

Bohringer said the Elections Board closes at 4:30 p.m. Morgan asked if there was any special arrangement for people trying to contact the agency after hours, and Bohringer said there was voice-mail.

Under cross, Blanchard asked Bohringer how he thought of Schultz. "She was a resource I used to help resolve the files," he replied.

At the time, Bohringer said, it was unclear to him whether she was a state employee.

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Judge Denies Motion for Mistrial

Prior to the jury being brought in today, Jensen's attorney Stephen Meyer moved for a mistrial because he said his client was not able to confront witnesses face-to-face.

Meyer said the last witness yesterday, former state senator and current circuit court judge Mac Davis, told him he couldn't see Jensen as he testified. Jensen himself complained of not being able to see the witness stand from his seat at the defense table last week, Meyer said.

"I am making a motion for mistrial because my client has not had the right to face-to-face confrontation with the witnesses," Meyer said.

Dane County DA Brian Blanchard responded by saying he wasn't aware of any problem. "I haven't noticed Mr. Jensen stand up or strain. The witnesses may lean a little bit, but when they lean a little bit they would see him."

Judge Steven Ebert denied the motion. "Confrontation is broader than the ability to look somebody in the eye," he said.

The trial was supposed to start this morning at 8:30 a.m., but has been delayed until at least 10 a.m. because a witness is running late.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jensen's Defense Rests

Jensen's defense has rested. Stephen Morgan, attorney for Sherry Schultz, is up tomorrow.

Morgan said he plans to call three witnesses tomorrow: Rep. Steve Kestell, Richard Bohringer and Sharon Bartels. He said he anticipated wrapping up tomorrow's testimony by 11 a.m. A fourth witness, Paul Tessmer, will not be available tomorrow and thus will not testify until Thursday.

Jury instruction conferences between the attorneys are expected to begin tomorrow, after Morgan finishes with his witnesses.

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Prosser Vouches for Jensen's Character

Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, for whom Jensen worked as ARC director, said Jensen is "a person of the highest integrity."

Prosser said of Jensen, "I have always trusted Scott Jensen. He was a person who kept his word. I think he's an honest person and a fair person."

On cross-examination, Blanchard asked Prosser if his opinion would change if he knew Jensen gave false information in interviews with law officials. Prosser answered simply, "No."

Marlin Schneider, a Democratic representative since 1970, was also called as a character witness for Jensen.

"My opinion is that in the Legislature the only thing you have is your word," Schneider said. "Working with Mr. Jensen, he never betrayed me."

Schneider said even though Jensen is a political opponent, he trusts him. "I don't like his political philosophy on issues, but I have found him honest and above-board and always willing to work with us."

On cross-examination, Blanchard asked Schneider if his opinion would change if he knew Jensen gave false information in interviews with law officials. "Depending on what that was, potentially yes," Schneider said. "But I try to judge people on how they treat me, not their relationships with others."

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Webcast of Jensen Testimony Available

See a new WisPolitics/Mediasite webcast:

TO USE WISPOLITICS.COM/MEDIASITE WEBCASTS
--You must have a high-speed line.
--Click on the chosen link above.
--Wait until it loads and then adjust volume on your speakers and on the + - scale below the screen on the right.
--Use the "slide" cues above the screen on the right to page through the interview to the spot you want.
--Watch and listen, or minimize the screen, listen and do other computer work.
Questions? Contact: webmaster@wispolitics.com

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Jensen Says Office Policy Was to Do Campaign Work on 'Leave'

"I was confident people were taking comp time, vacation time and leave time to do campaign work. That was the office policy," Jensen said.

Three character witnesses are yet to come for the defense: Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, former GOP Sen. Mac Davis, and Dem Rep. Marlin Schneider.

Korte said he expects to go another half hour with Jensen on cross examination. So far, cross examination has lasted about two and a half hours, as long as the direct examination of Jensen.

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Korte Cross Continues

Korte continued to ask Jensen about the ARC and RACC, his interaction with ARC directors and duties of the directors.

He listed a long line of duties Carey and Kratochwill were tasked with, from executive director of RACC to managing field staff to handling direct mail. Jensen was asked if he ever advised either of them to do that work off the state clock. He said he assumed he wouldn't have to address the issue with a "seasoned employee" like Carey.

"No, and I didn't tell him the opposite either. We didn't have that conversation." Jensen said of Kratochwill.

Korte asked whether he was aware there was campaign work being done on the state dime in the '98 and '00 elections. "I was aware of that in 1987," he said.

"I guess I didn't think of it that way. We thought we were following the rules we've always (had), and didn't see state resources being consumed," Jensen said.

Korte pointed out then that in the Sept. '01 interview with investigators, Jensen was asked if he was aware of state workers conducting campaign activity. Why did he answer no, Korte wondered.

"I thought that meant in the present tense at the time because the question was asked in the present tense," Jensen said, adding he answered it that way because "it had been many, many months since anything like that occurred."

Jensen said, "It was a very confusing interview."

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Korte Gets Tough on Cross

Assistant AG Roy Korte tried to set the tone early in his cross-examination of Jensen, reminding the former speaker who was running the show in the courtroom.

When Jensen expounded on answers to Korte's "yes and no" questions, and Korte brusquely told him that any clarification to his questions could be offered by his attorney on redirect. "You've been here all week. You know how things work," Korte said.

"Just trying to help, sir," Jensen said.

At one point, Korte asked Judge Ebert to warn Jensen against responding beyond the scope of the question. Ebert gave Jensen the admonishment, telling him that if a question is phrased in a way that requires a yes or no answer, "that should be the response given."

Korte showed Jensen a memo from former Assembly Speaker Ben Brancel sent in '97 to legislators in which he warned against doing campaign work using state resources. Jensen said he didn't get the message because he didn't have a state computer or e-mail account at the time.

Jensen was also asked about a 2000 memo from former Assembly Chief Clerk Charlie Sanders that outlined the rules for the use of state resources related to campaign work. Jensen said again that he believes he may not have seen that memo before the trial. "I generally don't get these. I know it says legislators at the top, but I don't think I did - maybe I did," Jensen said.

Korte asked Jensen if his campaigns have ever been aided by state-paid personnel or resources, listing a litany of services -- from employees to copy and fax machines. Jensen said no to each, until Korte said graphic designers. He said he couldn't be sure whether the graphic design work done for his campaigns was done at ARC offices using state equipment or by the designers on their personal equipment.

"(The state) didn't hire anyone separately to work on my campaign, no," Jensen said.

Korte asked Jensen if fundraising was a difficult thing. "I don't think it's that difficult. It's like mowing the lawn, you've got to get it done."

But Jensen denied that his fundraising abilities gave him more sway among his peers.

"I don't know anybody in the Legislature who said, 'I'm going to vote for this because you helped me get elected," Jensen said. He said all he ever was interested in was getting a majority for the GOP.

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Investigators Didn't Get How Legislature Worked, Jensen Says

Meyer wrapped up his questions by asking about the interview with Blanchard and Collins. Jensen said he felt the investigators misunderstood much of what he said and seemed not to be knowledgeable about the workings of the Legislature.

He also raised questions about the accuracy of the report, noting on the first page it said he was majority leader. "That's a pretty simple mistake," he said.

Asked what he's been doing since being charged, Jensen said he was grateful to be re-elected by his constituents by two of the largest margins of his career.

Jensen -- composed throughout questioning by Meyer -- turned emotional when asked about the impact the case has had on his family. He seemed to be near tears as he tried to recount the kindness of his supporters and the cruelty of his detractors. An objection by the prosecution cut him short before he could relay a personal anecdote to the jurors.

He also paraphrased Dickens to describe the last few years, "It has been the best of times and the worst of times," he said.

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Assembly Work Rules Became Concern in 2000

Jensen said he became concerned with the Assembly's comp time policy during the 2000 election, but the court cut him off when he tried to discuss actions by Democratic staffers.

"My staff was getting more and more angry because they would hear reports from the field that Democrats were --," Jensen said before the prosecution objected, and Ebert sustained the objection.

Jensen said he also had concerns about the top-to-bottom operation of the Assembly, which he called "sloppy."

"It was not a professionally run organization," he said.

Jensen said he approached Dem leader Rep. Shirley Krug about the situation, and said he left "frustrated." He then asked Scocos to draw up a clear policy on comp and leave time and campaign work.

Asked if media reports helped to expedite the process, Jensen said, "They sure made it easier to sell."

Jensen said he pushed for the dismantling of the caucuses after evaluating the system and judging it beyond repair. He said he met with other caucus leaders but they didn't move fast enough for his liking.

Jensen said he met with Ethics Board director Jim Morgan and told him, "I can't wait any longer for the rest of these people. I want to end this thing." Morgan advised the houses should move together to abolish the caucuses, Jensen said.

When the vote came to disintegrate the caucuses, Jensen said, "The roll call will show there were votes against it by the other side." The prosecution objected, and Ebert had that remark stricken from the record.

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Jensen: Graphic Designers Had Always Done Campaign Lit

When he became ARC director from '87-'89, Jensen said it was already understood that graphic designers created campaign lit.

"I quickly learned from staff that it was appropriate for graphic artists to do design work for brochures," he said, because it didn't create "additional bills for taxpayers."

When he became speaker, Jensen said it didn't alarm him that graphic artists did that work because they had always done it.

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Jensen Outlines Office Rules on Fundraising

Jensen said fundraising for Taxpayers for Jensen was a very small part of his time.

"It's not, as somebody said the other day, hard to raise money as speaker," he said.

In his office, there were ground rules regarding campaigning and fundraising, Jensen said. "There was to be no direct solicitation of funds in my office. I didn't make calls from my office and other people did not make calls from my office," he said.

Also, leave time to do campaign work was to be strictly observed, Jensen said.

Jensen said he assumed that Himebaugh was still a part-time worker in his office between May and November of 2000, and that she was volunteering for Taxpayers for Jensen. He didn't know she was a full-time ARC employee.

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Jensen Wanted Employees to Take Leave for Campaigning

When Jensen took over as speaker in '97, Ray Carey was already director of ARC, and Jensen kept him on.

Meyer asked whether Jensen had addressed the issue of using leave time for campaign work with Carey. "Nothing like laying out a policy or anything. I just assumed he did it like previous caucus directors had done," Jensen replied.

Asked if he authorized leave, Jensen said, "Sure, I wanted people to take leave time when they were out in the field."

Meyer showed him spreadsheets from RACC in '98 and '00 showing payments were made to field staff.

Jensen said leave time for leggie staff was left up to individual legislators - he only oversaw the leave time of his own office employees.

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Jensen: Speaker is Not CEO of the Legislature

In '94, the GOP wrested the majority in the Assembly from the Dems, and Jensen was selected as majority leader. Meyer asked about the importance of being in the majority.

"It is difficult for legislators to pass legislation when you're in the minority," Jensen said. "Anything that has any sort of partisan ideology to it, only the majority gets those passed."

Jensen lost a bid for speaker in '96, but got the job when Ben Brancel was tabbed by Thompson to serve as agriculture secretary in fall of 1997.

He said speaker is a "great job" but its not like being CEO of the Legislature. "You can't direct people to do things in most situations. You have to persuade people to do things," Jensen said.

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Jensen Discusses Campaign Work in Caucus Office

Rep. Scott Jensen took the stand in his own defense this morning.

In his early testimony, Jensen talked about his start in politics, volunteering for the Mac Davis Senate campaign, to his days as a WMC lobbyist and his hiring as ARC director.

He said he joined Davis' campaign to work on policy issues after receiving his undergraduate degree. Instead, he was handed a post-hole digger and spent the summer putting up campaign signs.

"In the last week his wife felt bad for me and told him he should let me do (policy work). It resulted in a three-inch story in the paper," he said.

He then went to work for the Senate Republican Caucus before getting a gig with WMC as a lobbyist. In 1987, Betty Jo Nelson selected him as director of the Assembly Republican Caucus. While campaign work was part of the job, he said it was understood that leave time was to be used when working in the field.

His ARC staff worked incredibly long hours, he said, and he had no question they were putting in their 37.5 hours a week for the state before doing any campaign work.

He said there were five special elections in his first year as director, and one of his first tasks as director was to recruit candidates. He said he took leave time when working in the field on campaign work.

Asked by his attorney Stephen Meyer if he and others designed campaign-related materials and wrote ads in the office, Jensen said it was an ingrained practice.

"Sure, often working off stuff from previous campaigns from previous directors," he said.

After David Prosser took over as leader, Jensen said Prosser identified why the GOP couldn't win an Assembly majority -- because the party wasn't protecting its incumbents.

"The work of the caucus would now be directed at making sure that our incumbents were stronger," Jensen said.

Jensen left the caucus in '89 to become Gov. Tommy Thompson's chief of staff. He said he'd go to breakfast at the executive residence at 7:30 a.m. each morning, and get his last call from the governor at midnight. "I loved it though -- absolutely loved the job -- and the boss," Jensen said.

He said there were often meetings between the governor and legislative staff, and campaigns were a frequent topic. "I don't think you can get six or seven politicians in a room and not talk about campaigns," he said.

Jensen left that job to run for Assembly in a special election in '91.

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Jensen Takes the Stand

Defendant Scott Jensen took the witness stand shortly before 9 a.m.

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Millis is First Witness Today

Today's first witness is Don Millis, a Madison attorney and a former legislative worker from '81-'90. Millis is also former chairman of the Tax Appeals Commission, and a former member of the state Elections Board, including a stint as chairman from 1998-99.

Defense attorney Stephen Meyer asked Millis for background on legislative leadership and the partisan caucuses.

Millis said he has known Jensen since the early '80s, when Jensen was a Senate intern, and said he is a good friend and that he "has the highest degree of confidence in Mr. Jensen's integrity."

On cross, Blanchard asked Millis, who works for Michael, Best and Friedrich, if Jensen had given the firm a lot of business through the redistricting process. Millis said he joined the firm after redistricting was resolved, so he had no knowledge of that, but he said redistricting created work for a lot of firms.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Jensen Due Up Tomorrow; No Plans to Call Tommy

Testimony has ended for the day.

Defense attorney Stephen Meyer said he will call four or five witnesses tomorrow and rest his case. He said defendant Scott Jensen will be the first or second witness called.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson will not be called tomorrow, Meyer said. When asked if Thompson would take the stand at all, Meyer would only say, "not tomorrow."

Asked if Supreme Court Justice David Prosser would be called, he responded, "We hope so."

The trial is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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Former Clerk Overhauled Assembly Work Rules

John Scocos, currently secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was the Assembly's chief clerk when Jensen was speaker.

Scocos said when he took over as Assembly chief clerk, he was supported by Jensen in doing an overhaul of Assembly work rules. He said one of his recommendations was to close down the caucuses.

He said the policy manual hadn't been updated in 26 years, and contained contradictory information in job descriptions. He said there were no time sheets for employees, only time logs. He said time sheets were being used by 37,000 state employees at the time.

Scocos said he made 54 changes to the manual, including some accountability measures. Scocos said Jensen did not oppose any of his changes.

In his questioning, Morgan asked if there was confusion in the old employee manual whether caucus employees could or could not do campaign work. Scocos said there was some confusion due to the way the manual was written.

On cross, Blanchard tried to head off any argument by the defense that Jensen had proposed the reforms prior to the eruption of media coverage. Scocos said he began the manual revisions in June, after the media began looking into the operation of the caucuses.

Scocos said there was no discussion of the caucuses being eliminated until a Wisconsin State Journal series on the caucuses began in May.

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Webcast of Baas Testimony Available

See a new WisPolitics/Mediasite webcast:

TO USE WISPOLITICS.COM/MEDIASITE WEBCASTS
--You must have a high-speed line.
--Click on the chosen link above.
--Wait until it loads and then adjust volume on your speakers and on the + - scale below the screen on the right.
--Use the "slide" cues above the screen on the right to page through the interview to the spot you want.
--Watch and listen, or minimize the screen, listen and do other computer work.
Questions? Contact: webmaster@wispolitics.com

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Prosecution Disputes Claims of Leave Time

To shed doubt on Tierney's statement under direct examination that she did campaign work while on leave, prosecutor Roy Korte produced multiple work orders from Tierney to Grant for campaign lit pieces dated June 1998. Some of the requests had a Jensen office number as a contact.

Korte showed that Tierney didn't take leave until August of that year.

On cross, Korte asked Tierney about how many times she saw Richard copying checks or entering the amounts into the database. She said she saw it a handful of times.

Did it stop after Tierney brought it up to Healy, Korte asked. "I honestly don't remember - it may haved dropped off for a while," Tierney answered.

She also recalled Jensen and Richard having conversations about Taxpayers for Jensen in the speaker's office -- discussions about the campaign committee's financial status and events. She also said she scheduled meetings for Jensen and Richard with lobbyists at the RPW.

Tierney also said she scheduled meetings between Jensen and Schultz. She said Schultz once told her she was very busy doing campaign finance reports.

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Office Policy Was to Take Leave for Campaigning

Jodie Tierney, who worked for Jensen from '93-'01, said when staffers were leaving to work on campaigns, it was the policy of the office to contact the Assembly Chief Clerk's office and get taken off the state payroll for that percentage of the time. She said she did so when she left to do campaign work. And Meyer showed a leave document she filled out in '96.

Tierney said she accompanied Jensen to the RPW to make fundraising calls. She said she was not on state time when she made the trips.

She said Carrie Richard was employed to help with constituent services. Asked by Meyer about Richard's job performance, Tierney said she recalled more than one staff meeting to discuss how constituent contact had fallen behind. Tierney said she had to step in and help to catch things up on a couple of occasions.

Tierney said she witnessed Richard doing campaign work, like dealing with donation checks, in the speaker's office. She said she never made any comment to Richard or Jensen about it, but did say something to Healy.

Of campaign work. Tierney said, "It was something we were all supposed to volunteer on and chip in on, but we were not supposed to do that in the office."

Tierney said she solicited Eric Grant to do campaign lit and fundraising invitations. Asked if Jensen asked her to take the work to Grant at the ARC, Tierney said, "Not that I recall, no."

Asked if that was a bad decision in retrospect, Tierney said yes.

Tierney also said Jensen had a reputation for honesty.

"He's got a reputation for being very honest and truthful - a lot of integrity," Tierney said.

Morgan asked Tierney whether she ever did mailings in the annex room with Schultz and former Foti staffer Charlene Rodriguez. Rodriguez testified Friday that she stuffed envelopes in the annex. Tierney said she never engaged in mailings in the annex.

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Former Sergeant at Arms Confirms List of Political Events in Assembly Rooms

Denise Solie, the committee clerk for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and sergeant at arms for the Assembly from 1998 to 2003, testified after lunch.

Solie verified that she drafted a document that Meyer entered into evidence. The document was a schedule of political events held in Assembly rooms from '95 to '01. She drafted it while she was sergeant at arms.

Before Solie, Leslie Oehmen was the first witness after lunch. Oehmen, controller for the state Republican Party, verified a document showing RACC payroll expenses for the '98 election season.

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Jurors Could Begin Deliberation Thursday

Jensen defense attorney Stephen Meyer said he believes he can wrap up his defense tomorrow. Hearing that, Stephen Morgan (attorney for defendant Sherry Schultz) said all he'll need is one day, but one of his witnesses, former ARC employee Paul Tessmer, won't be available until Thursday.

In light of that, Ebert said the jury could get the case as early as Thursday.

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Judge Anticipates Late Nights

After opening today by telling the court, "we're going to work our tails off this week, and we're going to work late," Ebert told the jury before its lunch break to expect to stay until at least 6 p.m. today.

Today's lunch break is also shorter -- 45 minutes instead of the hour-plus breaks of the past two weeks.

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Run for Governor Would 'Need Money in the Bank'

Blanchard asked if around the time Richard was hired Jensen was looking to "ramp up" his fundraising operation. Healy balked at this statement at first, but then relented after Blanchard showed him comments he made in an earlier interview.

"There was speculation (Jensen) was going to run for governor and if we were going to do that, we were going to need money in the bank," Healy said.

Healy remarked under questioning from Blanchard, "It wasn't hard to raise money in the speaker's office."

Asked to explain that statement on redirect by Meyer, Healy said, "As speaker a lot of people want to be friendly and want to be helpful, so it doesn't take a lot of work to raise money."

Healy's time on the stand is over and the court is on lunch break until approximately 1:30 p.m.

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Healy: Fundraising Only Came Up at End of Interview

On cross, Blanchard asked if at the '97 job interview with Carrie (Hoeper) Richard if she talked at length about her fundraising background. Healy said the topic didn't come up "until literally we were getting up to leave the table."

Blanchard asked if Richard was doing campaign-related work in the speaker's office. "I don't recall that," said Healy, who was the treasurer for Taxpayers for Jensen prior to Richard.

But Blanchard continued, asking where Richard would receive campaign checks. Healy said Jensen would bring them in his mailbag, and part of Healy's job was to distribute that mail. "She was treasurer so she needed the checks," Healy said.

Blanchard asked about a meeting in '98 when hiring a second ARC graphic designer was discussed after Eric Grant asked for more help. Grant testified that he was swamped during the campaign season creating campaign materials. Blanchard asked if there was any reason Jensen would not have been aware of what was keeping Grant so busy. Healy said no.

Blanchard asked about Leigh (Himebaugh) Searl's duties. Healy said while he thought she was doing constituent work and helping with scheduling, he acknowledged that she was doing Taxpayers for Jensen work as well, but it was on her own time.

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Healy Next on the Stand

Next on the stand is Brett Healy, who worked for Jensen for 12 years and now works for School Choice Wisconsin.

He said most employees reported directly to him. Jensen would give direction, and the staff would run with it. "It was up to myself and the other staff to take that direction and make sure it got done," Healy said.

As Baas did, Healy testified that he never saw Jensen solicit or receive campaign contributions from lobbyists in the speaker's office.

And, echoing Baas and other staffers who have testified, Healy said he gave the state more than the 2,000 hours annually he was being paid for.

Asked by Meyer if there was an office policy regarding using vacation or leave time to work on campaigns. Healy said, "It wasn't so much an office policy - it was the Assembly policy." Healy said he took vacation days over his tenure to work on campaigns, but never took leave or went off state payroll. He said he also did campaign work on his own time.

Healy said he participated in envelope stuffings in the speaker's office, but "not very often." He also said he would at times take home the materials and do the envelope stuffing there.

Healy testified that Schultz attended leadership meetings in the speaker's office along with Reps. Jensen, Foti, Ladwig, Freese, Gard and Kaufert.

He said the topics of the meetings would vary, from policy to fundraising.

Under questioning by defense attorney Stephen Morgan, Healy said that sometimes Schultz would speak about policy at the meeting, and at other times she'd say how members were doing with fundraising.

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Caucus Employees Worked on 'Speaker's Club' Newsletter

Under questioning from the prosecution, Baas testified that he worked with ARC graphic artists on Speaker's Club newsletters, including Eric Grant, Kacy Hack and Lee Riedesel -- three artists who testified earlier in the trial. The Speaker's Club was a fundraising vehicle for Taxpayers for Jensen.

Baas testified he would use state phones to communicate with the designers and state e-mail to convey the material. Baas said Jensen was aware but not involved in the creation of the newsletters.

"He didn't know how I was doing it. He knew I was preparing the speaker's report," Baas said.

Baas said he also participated in putting together mailings in the speaker's office. While he didn't recall specific mailings, Baas said he remembered "some that were campaign-related." He said they usually took place over the lunch or dinner hour.

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Cross-Examination of Baas Gets Tense

During a sometimes testy cross-examination, prosecutor Roy Korte asked Baas whether he was aware that Assembly Republican Caucus employees between '98 and '01 were doing campaign work using state resources.

At first, Baas said he didn't recall any such activity. He said he was in the communications business, not the campaign business.

Korte stayed at it, asking if he knew about the direct involvement of ARC employees in campaigns. "What is your definition of direct involvement in campaign activity?" Baas asked.

After Korte repeated the question, Baas said yes, he was aware of ARC conducting campaign activities.

Korte also asked if Jensen talked in those days about a future run for governor. Baas said he did.

Getting specific information from Baas proved difficult for Korte. At times Korte had to read to Baas his answers from a transcript of a February 2002 interview he had with investigators in which he told them of meetings held in Jensen's office with Hoeper to discuss campaign finances or upcoming campaign events.

Baas said he didn't doubt the veracity of the transcripts, or that he had those recollections at that time, but he doesn't specifically recall those incidents now as it was four years ago.

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Baas: Speaker's Office an 'Atypical Work Setting'

Asked to describe a typical day in the speaker's office, Baas said it was impossible because it was "an atypical work setting."

Baas said the speaker's office was considered by the press as a hub for all Assembly GOP offices.

He said he did field calls from the press asking questions about campaigns. When those calls would come in, he'd contact the appropriate person at Taxpayers for Jensen, or go to the Elections Board himself to get the answer, he said.

Meyer asked if he went to Carrie (Hoeper) Richard for information when she was in the office. Last week, she testified that she served as treasure of Jensen's campaign when she was employed in the state office.

"I don't recall specifically if I ever asked Carrie for it or not," Baas said, but added if she had the information he likely would have because, "I was very interested in efficiency."

Baas said he did assist in writing fundraising letters, and he did so at his desk in the speaker's office. He said the bulk of what he contributed was material he already composed for press releases or columns, and he said the mission was the same for that sort of communication as for fundraising. "We wanted to put our message out there as attractively and aggressively as possible," Baas said.

Jensen never instructed him to work on the fundraising letters in the office, Baas said. "That's something I did on my own initiative, exercising my own judgment," Baas said.

Baas said he considers Jensen "a dear friend."

"I've found him to be a person of extraordinary integrity," Baas said.

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Former Jensen Spokesman Says Leave Compliance Was Staff's Responsibility

Steve Baas said in 1997, he went on 80 percent leave from Jensen's office to work on the DPI superintendent campaign. He said one day a week during that period he would put in an office day at the Capitol.

Defense attorney Stephen Meyer displayed the leave request letter to then-Assembly Chief Clerk Charlie Sanders.

Baas said it was up to staffers to ensure they followed the conditions of their leaves."That was my responsibility to make sure I was in compliance with this," Baas said.

As former staffers of Jensen have already testified, Baas described Jensen as a "big picture" kind of leader, and not a micro-manager.

Baas said Jensen had "very little" oversight of his work or that of the other personnel, and that he hired staff with "independent initiative and creativity."

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Ebert Denies Motion for Dismissal

Prior to the defense case commencing this morning, Judge Steven Ebert denied defense motions to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

Ebert said he spent considerable time working yesterday, and he found that the state had met its burden to this point of providing significant evidence to support the charges.

Prosecutor Brian Blanchard also moved to exclude the testimony of Don Millis, a former legislative staffer and Elections Board member. Blanchard said the testimony would be cumulative, and where not cumulative, irrelevant.

Jensen attorney Stephen Meyer said Millis' experience as a staffer and on the Elections Board at the time the alleged incidents happened would prove valuable.

Ebert denied the motion, saying he was loathe to deny the defense a chance to present the case as they wish. However, he promised, "We're going to work our tails off this week, and we're going to work late." He said if he found testimony irrelevant or unnecessary, he wouldn't wait to cut it off.

"The only person who can tell what the law is and who will tell the jury what the law is is me, not the witnesses," he said.

The first witness called by the defense is former Jensen flack Steve Baas, who now works for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

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Prosecution Rests Case; Meyer Cuts Dems from Witness List

The prosecution finished presenting its case to the jury at about 3 p.m. today. The defense of Scott Jensen and Sherry Schultz begins at 8:30 a.m.

Jensen attorney Stephen Meyer intends to call six witnesses on Monday, including former Jensen staffers Steve Baas, Brett Healy and Joelle Tierney. Meyer also expected Denise Solie, Don Millis and Leslie Oehmen to take the stand Monday.

Also, Meyer said he won't be calling three Democrats to the stand -- Doyle campaign chairman Rich Judge, former Rep. Shirley Krug, and former Assembly Democratic Caucus head Tanya Bjork.

Meyer asked Ebert whether he would be allowed to introduce any evidence regarding what was happening in the Assembly Democratic Caucus concurrent with the time of the incidents charged in the Jensen-Schultz case. Ebert said he would not.

With that in mind, Meyer said he would be entering an offer of proof regarding the evidence, and said it would include the evidence he turned over to the court regarding the ADC when he filed his motion on selective prosecution.

Ebert told him to file the offer of proof Monday morning. The offer of proof puts on the record that the attorney tried to get the evidence introduced, which makes it eligible for consideration should a higher judge look at the case for appeal.

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Meyer Questions the Jensen Interview Transcript

During his cross examination, Meyer tried to shed doubt on Collins memory and the veracity of the transcript.

He asked Collins how many interviews he'd done since, and whether it was difficult to recall the Jensen interview. "I wouldn't call it difficult, no," said Collins.

Meyer also pointed out that while the interview was conducted on Sept. 18, the transcript wasn't finalized until Oct 22. Collins explained that the official document goes through many proofing phases before it's authorized.

Staying with a common defense theme, Meyer also asked if the terms "caucus" and "campaign activity" were defined in the interview. Collins said they were not.

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Investigator Says Jensen Disputed Newspaper Story

The next witness is Dave Collins, now head of the Wisconsin State Troopers. He helped conduct an interview with Jensen about the investigation on Sept. 18, 2001.

Collins said in the initial interview Jensen refuted all the claims in the Wisconsin State Journal article that campaign work was being done on state time, and said Schultz had legitimate legislative assignments.

Jensen assured them that no campaign work was being done on state time and with state resources by ARC staff or any of the speaker's office staff. He told the investigators that if he heard other legislators had staff who were doing campaign work in that fashion, "He said he would clearly tell the legislator to make sure that wasn't being done and should not be done," Collins said.

The investigators asked Jensen where Schultz's office was. He said he had heard that she was not in Foti's office, but that she had space in the same building as ARC, although not in the same office, Collins said.

According to Collins, Jensen said Schultz had a good overall knowledge of Assembly Republicans. He said any fundraising discussions he had with Schultz were during the lunch hour or at the RPW office.

Collins also said Jensen made reference to meetings at state Republican HQ to talk about fundraising. Attending those meetings, Jensen said, were himself, Schultz and Reps. Foti, Ladwig and Gard.

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Schultz' Attorney Focuses on Inconsistencies

In his cross, defense attorney Stephen Morgan focused on what he said were inconsistencies in preliminary examinations of Rodriguez and her testimony this morning.

She had told the investigators in January '03 that she saw Schultz in the annex office one or two times. She testified this morning that she participated in four or five mailer assembly meetings in the annex office.

The strategy seemed to backfire, though, when she stated no matter how many times it may have been, "(Sherry) would lay them out and tell us what to do. We received all the information for a mailing from Sherry."

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Trial Resumes After Lunch Break

After the lunch break, Blanchard asked Rodriguez if she ever saw Carrie Richard's desk in Jensen's office. Rodriguez said it was covered with fundraising materials.

Meyer had no questions on cross.

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Foti Staffer: Schultz Organized Campaign Mailings

Charlene Rodgriguez, a former Foti aide, testified that she would frequently participate in gatherings to assembly campaign mailings, and that Schultz was a frequent organizer of the activities. Rodriguez was the next to take the stand after Foti finished with his testimony.

The work would take place in the ARC office or in the "annex" office on the first floor of the West Wing of the Capitol, said Rodgriguez, who now works for Rep. David Ward. The "annex" office, which is storage space for the Assembly speaker, was the temporary office of Schultz after she was hired by Foti and before she moved to the caucus offices.

Rodriguez said she participated in the envelope stuffing sessions 15-20 times, and five or six times the mailings were for Taxpayers for Jensen.

Rodriguez said Schultz would stop by the Foti office and "talk ... about how busy she was." Rodriguez said Schultz was always busy with fundraising.

Rodriguez, who handled Foti's schedule,said Foti would sometimes duck Schultz. "Mick (Foti) would explicitly say he didn't want to meet with Sherry today," she recalled. Rodgriguez said on some days, Foti would tell her he "just didn't want to deal with her."

Lobbyists would call the Foti office and ask how they could contact Schultz, she said. She said they would refer her them to her ARC number or later the number to the annex office, which were both state numbers.

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Foti: Legislation on Lobbying by Felons Played a Role in Plea Deal

Meyer asked about Foti's plea deal. He asked Foti if pending legislation prohibiting convicted felons from lobbying played into his decision. Foti said it did.

Meyer pointed out that the difference between the penalty for the felony Foti was charged with and the misdemeanor he pleaded to, five years in prison as opposed to one year in jail. (Prosecutors have recommended a 30-day jail term for Foti.) Foti said that was also a factor in his decision.

Foti said his plea deal hinged on his giving truthful testimony.

"Who's the one who determines whether they (the prosecutors) fulfill their end of the bargain?" Meyer asked.

"That's up to the judge," Foti said.

Foti said being on the stand was difficult. "I consider Scott a good friend," he said. He also called Schultz a good friend.

Meyer asked Foti if he believed Jensen to be a truthful and honest man. Foti said yes.

On redirect Blanchard brought this up, and asked if it was honest for Jensen to put Peer on his payroll without telling him.

"Afterwards when I approached him about it, Scott was very, very honest," Foti replied.

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