Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Republican staffer's story doesn't pass the smell test

That reek is the lame explanation provided by Republican staffer John O'Brien for for why he copied Democratic campaign plans earlier this year. O'Brien, an aide to State Sen. Dan Kapanke, (R-La Crosse), said he found the campaign plan in a binder on a microwave cart.

He said he did not notice until after he rifled through it that the name and title of Matt Swentofske, director of the state Democratic Senate Committee, were duly noted on the title page. What a surprise for a document like that to list the name of the owner where the name of the owner is very likely to be listed!

Good citizen O'Brien, so very dutifully concerned that the campaign document he found showed evidence of illegal coordination between the committee and independent advocacy groups, copied it and turned it over to -- theElections Board? Nah. The State Ethics Board? Nah.
The district attorney's or the US attorney's office? No. Why would anyone concerned with illegal activity contact the DA or the US attorney?

O'Brien gave the copy to the top aide to Sen. Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center). Why didn't O'Brien turn over the orginal book, if he was truly concerned about illegal activity? We don't know. O'Brien doesn't say. Guess he didn't understand that law enforcment folks generally prefer original evidence, not copies made by someone with a vested interest in the case.

Schultz' aide promptly turned the copy over to a Republican campaign committee. The campaign committee said the documents had been found on a capitol copier -- a largish hint that maybe the Dems were illegally using state resources to pay for campaign material.

Concerned citizen O'Brien did not step forward to correct the record -- the records were found on a microwave cart, and there was no evidence they had been copied.

The Republicans then sat on the copied plans for almost five months -- until just a few weeks before the November election -- before they alleged illegal coordination. The State Elections Board no violations of the law.

O'Brien's spate of good citizen feelings must have taken a vacation during those five months. He gives no indication that he followed on his concerns about illegal activity or asked a single question about the status of the issue.

O'Brien also says that Kapanke didn't know anything about his making the copy until Dec. 1. Well, I guess that is at least as believable as the rest of O'Brien's stinky explanation.

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