McCallum’s New Inner Circle Fails Ethical Smell Test

April 18, 2002

Madison - The presence of high-powered lobbyists in Governor Scott McCallum’s newly formed circle of advisers and the McCallum campaign’s response to ethical concerns expressed by departing fundraiser Dana Grigoroff are evidence that the administration lacks a commitment to standards of ethical conduct that used to be taken for granted in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said today.

A McCallum spokesperson told one newspaper the administration is "baffled" by Grigoroff’s statement, in which she said, ".political fundraisers respect the wall that is in place between lobbyists, fundraising, and legislation. It is a wall that cannot be compromised without impacting our integrity." Grigoroff added her departure was not a "planned transition" as the campaign had claimed, but rather was motivated by her discomfort with the new campaign advisory structure the governor has put in place.

"If the governor is baffled by Dana Grigoroff’s concerns, then he has no ethical compass," WDC executive director Mike McCabe said. "Bringing lobbyists into his inner circle violates the arms-length principle that is the foundation of our ethics laws."

McCabe said the state Ethics Board should investigate the new arrangement.

Among the new advisers to the governor is utility executive James Klauser, a former top aide to ex-Governor Tommy Thompson who now oversees Wisconsin Energy’s corporate lobbying operation. Another member of the new inner circle is corporate lobbyist John Matthews, another former top aide to Thompson who now represents clients including General Motors, American Express, TDS Telecom, Nicolet Minerals Company and the Green Bay Packers. Also on the new advisory team is William McCoshen, yet another former Thompson aide who now lobbies for corporate clients including Ameritech, American Family Insurance, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Northwestern Mutual, Pfizer Inc., Robert W. Baird & Company, Snap-On Incorporated and Wausau Insurance.

"McCallum has no business giving lobbyists this degree of access to the inner sanctum. Klauser, Matthews and McCoshen chose to leave public service and become hired guns for some of the most powerful economic interests in our state. This arrangement guarantees those interests privileged access to the governor," McCabe said.

"It is disturbing that Governor McCallum is seemingly blind to the obvious appearance of corruption," he added. "This is further evidence of how the ethical standards in Wisconsin government are being lowered."