Tuesday, March 07, 2006

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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