MacIver News Service | Dec. 13, 2018
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON – Gov.-elect Tony Evers talked a lot about “common ground” and bringing people together on the campaign trail.
“People of Wisconsin are tired of the polarization and we’re going to change that going forward,” the Democrat said on “UpFront” with Mike Gousha a couple of days before narrowly beating incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker in last month’s election.
But Evers’ lofty words of compromise and bipartisanship don’t seem to jibe with his opening appointments. The governor-elect has quietly assembled advisory committees packed with some of the most left-leaning people from some of the more left-wing organizations in the state. Nary a conservative to be found, of course, and even truly moderate Republicans are missing from the far left-heavy advisory committees.
The lineup includes big labor bosses, extreme environmentalists, social justice warriors, and espousers of socialism.
His liberal picks shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Evers certainly campaigned from a left-of-center perspective: Bigger government, stricter regulations, halving the state’s prison population. The bureaucrat first elected superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction in 2009 clearly backs and is backed by labor unions and would — if he could — do away with Walker’s public sector collective bargaining reforms, and substantially increase the state’s minimum wage.
Still, his post-election message has been one of moderation. And Evers certainly has been painted by the mainstream press as a moderating force. Will he find bipartisan solutions with a team of far left advisors whispering in his ear?
Here’s a look at the people who will help guide Gov. Evers’ agenda.
Candice Owley, a registered nurse who leads the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, is one of many Big Labor representatives to have Evers’ ear — and arguably one of the most radical. She has been tapped to serve on the governor-elect’s Health Policy Advisory Council.
Owley helped lead the left’s failed effort to recall Walker in 2012, and she is a vociferous critic of anyone that would dare to touch Obamacare.
The union chief is a full-throated supporter of making taxpayer-funded BadgerCare Plus a “public option,” effectively a step removed from the government-run, single-payer health care systems that have failed so miserably in socialist-hybrid nations, and the Bernie Sanders’-style Medicare for All plan which would cost taxpayers north of $32 trillion over a decade, if implemented.
If Evers is really looking to take partisan politics out of policy, Owley is anything but a nonpartisan pick. She has described Walker as a practitioner of “slash-and-burn politics,” and accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of taking “a page out of an authoritarian playbook.”
Evers has made it clear that he wants to take the Medicaid expansion “free money” that Walker refused — mainly because it wasn’t free. Evers has loaded his advisory committee with plenty of like-minded members who see only carrot and no stick in the expansion.
Evers’ Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Police Advisory Committee, includes several members of the left-wing social justice community, such as Angela Lang, of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. BLOC’s Facebook page features community organizers “Standing with workers against the Walker-Trump rigged economy.” Such rhetoric would seem to defy Evers’ campaign to end polarization in politics.
The Criminal Justice Reform committee also counts among its ranks Louis B. Butler, former liberal state Supreme Court justice (twice rejected by voters for the high court position) who earned the nickname “Loophole Louie” for his reputation of being soft on crime. Former President Barack Obama nominated and renominated Butler to serve as U.S. District Court judge for Wisconsin’s Western District several times; the Senate returned his nomination to the president each time. Then-U.S. Sen. Jeff sessions said some of Butler’s “speeches and cases, on the surface, show pretty significant activist tendencies.”
Big Labor, again, is well represented on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform committee, including Sean Daley of AFSCME Council 32, and Jim Palmer of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. There are several law enforcement members on the committee, including Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, a Democrat, who worked alongside the prosecutors of the unconstitutional John Doe investigation to lead armed raids on the homes of the left’s conservative political enemies.
The committee is packed with liberal judges and district attorneys, like former Democrat state representative and Portage County prosecutor Louis Molepske, and Eau Claire County Circuit Court Judge John Manydeeds.
Wisconsin State Public Defender Kelli Thompson also was tapped to serve on the committee. Public defenders have joined forces with a criminal justice coalition seeking a $70 million budget package to pay for more assistant DAs, as well as hike the reimbursement rates for private attorneys who serve as public defenders.
Heather Dubois Bourenane, director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, was named to Evers’ “What’s Best for Kids” Advisory Council. Bourenane is an extreme hater of Wisconsin’s school choice program and an unrelenting apologist for the public education industry.
“Second to the constant barrage of bad policy and anti-child agendas of the privateers, there is probably nothing less useful than or more distracting to the work we are trying to do as public education advocates than school and district report cards,” she posted last month on her Facebook page. Bourenane has described the popular school voucher program as a “laundering scheme.”
She will serve alongside Ron “Duff” Martin, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). The state’s largest teachers union has seen its membership dwindle post-Act 10, Walker’s public sector collective bargaining reform law that gave teachers the freedom to choose whether they want to be union members — and pay union dues. Martin and WEAC want to see the return of compulsory union dues.
Even the conservative-sounding advisors on Evers’ committees have deep liberal pedigrees.
Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, served as deputy secretary of Democrat Doyle’s crony-filled Commerce Department, and was an early supporter of presidential candidate Barack Obama. Brandon was named to Evers’ Next Generation Workforce and Economic Development Policy Advisory Council.
He joins Paul Jadin, the first CEO of Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Jadin became the darling of the Democrats and the mainstream media when he publicly criticized Walker during the campaign. He resigned in mid-October from his $208,000-a-year job at the Madison Region Economic Partnership so he could openly attack Walker.
The workforce and economic development committee includes some business representatives, but, once again, it’s packed with liberal activists, Democratic Party supporters, and big labor reps.
Terry McGowan, president and business manager of Local 139 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the largest construction union in the Badger State, joins fellow big labor leaders Dean Warsh, IBEW Local 494, Stephanie Bloomingdale, AFL-CIO, Bruce Colburn, SEIU, Kim Kohlhaas, AFT-Wisconsin, and Peter Rickman, Milwaukee Area Service & Hospitality Workers Organization, on the committee advising Evers.
Rickman is a lead organizer in the “Fight for $15” protests in Wisconsin. Evers has said he supports doubling Wisconsin’s minimum wage, even as economic studies show doing so would ultimately hurt the lower-income workers a government-mandated increase is supposed to help.
“The incoming Evers administration recognizes that Wisconsin needs a plan to build worker power to raise wages and that MASH has a model to do in the Bucks arena district. We are excited to be part of this project to develop a wages and workers governing agenda for our state,” Rickman’s union stated on its Facebook account.
Coburn has helped lead similar labor rallies. He has exhibited little patience for conservatives, and conservative news outlets like MacIver News Service.
Also on the committee, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, leader of the radical left immigration advocacy group Voces De La Frontera, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Law and Sociology professor Joel Rogers, who also directs the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS). Rogers, who has espoused the glorious path of socialism and who has described American capitalism as “monstrous,” will be advising Evers, who, again, wants to end divisiveness in Wisconsin politics. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party wasn’t left enough for Rogers, so he created his own socialist-style party, the New Party. National Review described it as “radically redistributionist.”
Rogers will serve alongside Jason Rae, the founder and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Rae also serves as secretary of the Democratic National Committee. He is a partner at Madison-based Nation Consulting, the political consulting firm that advocates for far-left policies and politicians.
In naming the members of his Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resources Policy Advisory Council, Evers took a shot at Walker and the DNR’s failure to accept the left’s climate change agenda as indisputable fact.
“We’re going to bring science back to decision-making in Wisconsin,” Evers said, in a statement announcing the appointments of several environmental extremists to the committee.
Members include Lauren Azar, former Obama administration senior advisor in the Department of Energy. Azar, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s former domestic partner, who the American Public Power Association blamed for failing to collaborate with industry in her pursuit of a pro-renewable energy agenda.
Climate change alarmist Tia Nelson, daughter of Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, also will be advising Evers. The younger Nelson made it her mission to push the left’s climate change narrative while serving as director of the apolitical Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.
Nelson will be joined by Mark Redsten, CEO of environmental group Clean Wisconsin. Redsten formerly served, at the request of Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle, on the board of Cool Choices, an organization that “helps individuals, communities and small businesses make small changes that yield big results for the environment,” according to his bio.
“Blink and you missed it, but Tony Evers just slipped a top abortion activist onto this transition team,” state Sen. David Craig (R-Big Bend) said in a press release. “The appointment of Planned Parenthood of WI’s CEO shows Evers’ promotion of the pro-abortion agenda and his commitment to making it a key part of his administration.”
The lawmaker added that he finds it “disturbing” that Evers is “already surrounding himself with liberal, Madison special interests so out of step with the rest of the state.”
The appointment would seem to contradict the will of many of the 1,295,080 voters who supported conservative Walker in the election, accounting for 48.44 percent of the vote. Evers won a plurality, 49.54 percent of the vote, or 1,324,307 of the votes cast, but he didn’t win a mandate.