- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Walker dismisses report of big Menard donation, tax breaks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Likely presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday dismissed a report that he helped steer tax credits and eased up on environmental oversight to benefit national hardware chain Menards after its billionaire owner donated $1.5 million to a conservative group.

Yahoo News reported Monday that John Menard Jr. gave the money to Wisconsin Club for Growth to help advance Walker’s agenda when he faced a recall election in 2012, citing several unidentified sources. Such donations are legal under campaign finance law and are not subject to limits or a requirement they be disclosed publicly.

Wisconsin Club for Growth attorney David Rivkin issued a statement that did not address the question of whether Menard made the donations.

“The other side wants to promote some kind of conspiracy theory where a contribution to the Club to help it weigh in on public policy is somehow transformed into an arrangement with the Governor, but they have absolutely no support for it at all because that never happened,” Rivkin said.

Menards corporate spokesman Jeff Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Menards, in 2013 and 2014, qualified for up to $1.8 million in tax breaks from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s chief jobs-creation agency, which Walker heads. The company has so far earned $164,000 in those years, a governor’s spokeswoman said.

Walker was asked about the story as he left a state building commission meeting Tuesday afternoon.


Supreme Court candidates spar over partisan influences

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A longtime Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and her challenger for re-election continued to spar Tuesday over partisan influences two weeks ahead of an election that will determine which of them gets a 10-year term on the state’s highest court.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley met at a candidate forum hosted by the Dane County Bar Association in advance of the April 7 election. The race is officially nonpartisan, but like other contests for the Supreme Court in recent years, support for the candidates is breaking down largely along partisan lines.

Daley accepted a $7,000 in-kind contribution from the Wisconsin Republican Party and is speaking at GOP events around the state. Daley said he wasn’t going to apologize for the contribution, noting that it is allowed under the law.

“This campaign is not about a certain in-kind donation to my campaign,” Daley said. “The claim has been that by accepting that donation I, of course, am saying that I am supporting everything the Republican Party of Wisconsin does. Not true.”

Bradley, who has been a member of the court for 20 years and is seeking a third 10-year term, said she and Daley have different visions for how courts should operate.

“I have a vision for our court system where political parties are not having undue input on nonpartisan races,” Bradley said. “I need and want the votes of Republicans, Democrats, independents and everyone in between. But I strongly believe political parties should stay out of judicial races.”

Daley, a circuit court judge for 26 years, pointed out that Bradley has accepted donations from a variety of labor unions that have traditionally sided with Democrats, including the AFL-CIO and AFSCME.


Wisconsin state senator tells committee he’s armed

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin state senator says he brought a concealed gun to a committee hearing.

Van Wanggaard, a Racine Republican and a former police officer, is chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. He was running a public hearing in the state Capitol on Tuesday on a bill he wrote that would let off-duty and retired police officers carry concealed weapons on school property when he announced he had a gun on him.

Wanggaard said retired police officers always feel the need to protect society and he has passed annual marksmanship tests that enable him to carry as an officially retired officer.

He did not display the weapon. His aide, Scott Kelly, says Wanggaard usually carries a gun on his hip but he didn’t know what type.


Wisconsin tells court it doesn’t want voter ID until April 8

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is telling a federal appeals court that he does not want the state’s voter identification law to take effect until after the April 7 election.

Schimel said Tuesday in a court filing that he does not object to the request by the American Civil Liberties Union to hold off on enforcing the photo ID requirement until April 8.

Schimel had said Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the law that he didn’t want the photo ID requirement to take effect immediately. Schimel agrees with opponents of the law that it can’t be enacted before the election because people have already begun voting by absentee ballot.

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