Thursday, March 02, 2006

First Defense Witness Takes the Stand

The trial began today with the first defense witness, Chad Taylor. Taylor was taken out of order because of a schedule conflict. His testimony will be followed by more testimony from prosecution witnesses.

Taylor worked in Jensen's office from November '97 through October '99 as deputy counsel, assisting chief counsel Bert Garvin. He now works for the law firm of Michael, Best and Friedrich.

Under questioning from defense attorney Stephen Meyer, Taylor described Jensen's management style as "hands-off" and said he was a "macromanager." He said the organizational structure in the office was "flat." Jensen, Taylor said, had very little to do with day-to-day operations in the office. Jensen's chief of staff Brett Healy handled all personnel issues, he said. He described the office pace as "hectic," and said 10- to 12-hour days were the standard.

In '98, Taylor said he helped with the Assembly campaign of Mike Oswald. He said he took 25 percent leave from the state, and for the most part only worked on the campaigns on Fridays.

He said he did do envelope stuffing in the speaker's office, but it was over the lunch hour. "I remember turning on the TV and sort of mindlessly stuffing envelopes." He said he and his co-workers would order pizza and do the task, then when lunch hour was over they'd turn the TV off and go back to work.

Asked if he ever solicited ARC graphic designer Eric Grant to design campaign materials for Oswald, Taylor said, "it is my understanding I did," but he said he had no recollection of it.

He said the policy of the office was to take a leave of absence or vacation time to do campaign work, and there were other rules.

"There was a clear policy of not soliciting contributions from lobbyists - from anyone - in the speaker's office using the phone'" he said. He said there was also a "clear understanding" that Jensen office staff were not to use their computers to design campaign lit.

Taylor said he once saw former Jensen staffer Carrie Hoeper-Richard photocopying checks on the office copy machine. Taylor said he told her she shouldn't be doing that in the office, not because it ran afoul of campaign finance or ethics rules, but because "it just seemed unseemly." The press often gathered in the hallway near the copy machine, he explained, and he said he told her to stop because of "a sense of impropriety."

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