Thursday, October 27, 2005

McCann in the Tank

I found a quote in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from District Attorney E. Michael McCann to be absolutely perplexing. The quote appeared in the article about Chuck Chvala’s guilty plea to two felonies for campaign law violations, and signals that McCann has drunk the Kool-Aid from the nutso campaign finance reform crowd. From the story:

But if campaign finance laws are never reformed, he said, future
legislators may be tempted to engage in behavior similar to that of the two
disgraced Senate Democrats.

"Ten years down the road, (if) the law stays the same, it invites
exactly what happened here," McCann said.

Huh? So we have a DA who just succeeded in convicting the former majority leader of the state senate of felony counts of misconduct and he thinks we need to change the laws? Wouldn’t these very convictions be evidence that the law is working? Would Chvala have been found guilty if he didn’t break any current laws?

Additionally, this appeal for campaign finance reform is a complete sham. Campaign finance reform, as it is currently understood by its advocates, involves a complex system of taxpayer funding of campaigns and unconstitutional limits on free political speech.

Chvala was found guilty of two crimes – one, for sending a capitol worker on state time to run a campaign, and two – for organizing donations to a campaign in excess of current limits.

How exactly would this new system have dissuaded Chvala from committing these crimes? It would not. In any way. Chvala knew the current laws were on the books, and he violated them. Is there any reason to think he wouldn’t have violated some other phony laws given his tyrannical control of his caucus?

What’s more interesting is McCann’s sudden insistence on new campaign finance reform laws when he has clearly shown a resistance to enforce the ones currently on the books. Remember when Marvin Pratt was running for Mayor of Milwaukee and his campaign finances were written in crayon, scrawled on napkins, kept in his head, and the like? Anyone remember that he was paying for trips to Kansas City, Las Vegas, New York, St. Louis and Hawaii, and Washington D.C. from his campaign account and then being personally reimbursed by the city? Anyone? McCann let Pratt off the hook with a slap on the wrist, never charging him criminally with anything.

Before McCann calls for a kooky new campaign finance reform system, he might want to brush up on the laws currently at his disposal, and show a willingness to use them.