Gaslighting, Hypocrisy and Policy Flip-Flops
Now that the Democrats have cleared the field for Barnes, it’s time to dig in on where he really stands on policy issues.
In a surprise to many, virtually the entire field of Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate dropped out of the race last week, all throwing their support to the now-prohibitive-favorite Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
First Tom Nelson, who unsurprisingly left the race after a lackluster and crabby debate performance.
Then Milwaukee Bucks owner Alex Lasry dropped out of the race after being statistically tied with Barnes in the June Marquette poll and putting in the strongest debate performance with the most direct answers and specific plans. Speculation as to why a self-funding frontrunner would drop out after a strong debate performance is a question for the pundits, but he too endorsed Barnes as he exited.
Sarah Godlewski used her debate time to self-identify as incompetent, insisting her only job for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was to get women to vote to defeat Trump, a job at which she failed so desperately that she did not even manage to get herself to the polls. She hung in a couple days past Lasry, but also dropped out, throwing her support to Barnes.
This exodus leaves an all-but-certain Democrat nominee who has taken the most extreme positions in a primary field of radicals. He’s also the candidate who has claimed – with a straight, outraged face, all evidence to the contrary – that he didn’t ever really take many of those unpopular positions. That means the primary is poised to deliver a candidate unwilling to be honest about where he stands on policy issues.
Gaslighting and Flipocrisy
As we’ve reported, flipocrite Barnes’ positions on major policy questions are fuzzy when they’re not shifting, and contradictory when they’re not blatantly hypocritical.
The mainstream media has handled him with such kid gloves that he hasn’t had to explain the flip-flops, the parsing of words, the fabrications and evasions that have marked his career.
Few candidates are unwilling to give an honest answer as to if and when they graduated from college, but Barnes was.
He was sent to a private choice school by his MPS schoolteacher mom – who thoroughly understood how badly MPS did, and still does, fail students. His family had the option to do better for their son and they took it. But Barnes, whose educational opportunities obviously helped him rise to lieutenant governor of the state, wants to shut down the option for other families like his. He refuses to admit the role a choice school played in his education, referring only to his graduation from an MPS school he transferred to in his teens.
Compounding the calculated evasions is the fact that on the occasions someone tries to pin him down, Barnes gets angry, aggressive, and confrontational.
When asked in 2019 about his repeatedly delinquent property taxes, in a scheduled interview, his anger visibly builds as he gaslights the female reporter before shouting to draw the crowd’s attention to her outrageous questioning of him on Juneteenth.
In 2015, he became so incensed at being asked to explain a vote, later in the day he was caught on CCTV cameras barreling out of a restaurant to confront the reporter, shoving and threatening him in front of witnesses who confirmed on camera the angry Barnes was physical.
After Dan Bice – one of the few who have bothered to question Barnes’ quicksilver positions on ICE, defunding the police, and the upsides of violence – wrote on the flipflops, Barnes was kept out of the public eye for months – perhaps long enough that he forgot what he was running for and who his opponent was, as Wednesday, while reading from prepared remarks, he pledged to get rid of Scott Walker, “one of the worst senators this state has ever had.”
“This year we finally have the chance to get rid of Scott Walker, one of the worst senators this state has ever had,” says Dem candidate Mandela Barnes, apparently meaning to reference Ron Johnson. (Former Gov. Scott Walker, of course, was never a senator) pic.twitter.com/0cH1IYPYgy
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) July 27, 2022
(Walker’s imaginary time in the senate was on par with Barnes’ actual success as a legislator – neither passed a single bill.)
The debate gave another opportunity for Barnes to be pushed to explain his multiple positions, but viewers got no more clarity because although moderators asked for specifics, they didn’t get a single one.
Now that Barnes is all but certain to win next week’s primary, knowing where he stands – on issues like the economy, crime, election integrity, immigration, and costly climate change policies – is a priority.
Higher Gas Prices: Check
On debate questions the moderators allowed Barnes to be deliberately obtuse as in an exchange on gas prices that went essentially like this:
Moderator: How do we transition to renewable energy without driving up the cost of gas?
Barnes: Well first and foremost my dad made catalytic converters. Third shift.
Moderator: OK, yeah, but how would you not drive up the price of gas?
Barnes: There are more drilling leases than ever before. Also, we spent money on electric vehicle infrastructure.
Audience: Wait, did he just say “drill baby drill?”
So how would Barnes move to renewables without driving up gas prices?
As we’ve already reported, the Barnes Climate Change Task Force recommended mandating higher gas prices to disincentivize it’s use, and the Evers-Barnes budget proposed an 8-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase, on top of yearly hikes in perpetuity, would have driven gas prices up more than 11 cents higher than it is today, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau,
But Barnes didn’t own the issue he’s taken a lead on, he didn’t own the work of his task force, and he didn’t own that, like President Biden, thinks higher gas prices are the best way to get people to stop using it.
Dealing in Green
Barnes has been the point person for the Democrats on climate change issues, not just at the state level, leading the task force but internationally, advocating the end to capitalism in the U.S. at the United Nations Climate Conference in Madrid in late 2019. Barnes said we needed to “stymie capitalism” to achieve his climate goals, echoing socialist enviro-warriors the world over, including Princeton Professor Ashley Dawson, who advocated putting corporations under public control, dismantling our “planet-destroying” economy through an “assault on private property” just a few months before Barnes parroted him in Spain.
Barnes brought this and other radical ideas to the table for discussion at his task force meetings, including changing the presumption from innocent to guilty for those accused of environmental racism, destroying all prisons, automatic voter registration of 16-year-olds (a bill Barnes authored as a legislator), and of course, the stickiest wicket of all in the international climate change debate, free transgender transition surgery because, you know, carbonfossilfuelgreensomethingsomething justice.
The goal of the task force, to make the state carbon-free by 2050, comes with huge costs, not only in higher prices to heat our homes and fuel our cars, but in higher taxes to finance new “incentives” and larger government to enforce the many new regulations. Wisconsin already has the second-highest residential and commercial electric rates in the Midwest, and even one of the task force members expressed concern about the “trillions” in new state and federal spending being proposed.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation has placed Wisconsin at high risk of energy emergencies warning of blackouts as demand grows and capacity falls short of predicted peak demand. Reliability concerns like these prompted a delay in planned retirement of coal-fired plants. But Barnes’ Climate Change Plan doesn’t share concerns of reliability, and instead pushes for accelerated closures, amplifying the risks.
As the architect of the plan, Barnes touts solar as the solution to many of these potential little hiccups like blackouts. Even now, Evers-Barnes Public Service Commission appointees, one a former industry lobbyist, are fast-tracking a previously rejected plan to allow the solar sector to function as a Wisconsin utility without being defined or regulated as one.
When he was with RENEW Wisconsin, Commissioner Huebner and his then-board chair, Amy Heart, VP of California solar giant Sunrun, tried to convince the PSC to, without legislative approval, open this mile-wide loophole. They lost then, but with Barnes as the administration’s point person on energy policy, and Huebner now in the regulator’s chair, the commission is poised to give the entire solar industry a big, sloppy, lame-duck kiss on the lips December 1 of this year.
To understand more about why this move is so important to solar, it’s instructive to view a 2021 Sunrun filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission where they explain their business model, risks and competition:
- Our business currently depends on the availability of utility rebates, tax credits and other benefits, tax exemptions and exclusions, and other financial incentives. We may be adversely affected by changes in U.S. tax laws, and the expiration, elimination or reduction of these benefits could adversely impact our business.
- Although we are not regulated as a public utility in the United States under applicable national, state or other local regulatory regimes where we conduct business, we compete primarily with regulated utilities.
To date, Sunrun has received hundreds of millions in government subsidies, while also being held liable for millions and millions in fines and settlements. They’ve been the subject of multiple class-action lawsuits for marketing practices, misleading investors, and deceptive claims, and, non-union Sunrun has repeatedly been investigated and fined by OSHA for workplace safety violations, including fatalities.
And here’s the pot of gold at the end of the Barnes solar green deal rainbow:
Barnes has taken multiple, illegal, campaign contributions from non-union, government-subsidized, OSHA-violating Sunrun’s VP and lobbyist, while his administration appointed her former subordinate to a position that will vote on whether her company can become unregulated utilities in Wisconsin.
This “green” in Barnes commitment to Green Energy could well explain why pushing solar is more important to the Lieutenant Governor than families and businesses having access to reliable electricity.
Love Songs and Jobs
Barnes is currently claiming he will “breathe new life into our manufacturing industry.”
As a legislator a few years back, Barnes declared Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry dead, saying that a job in manufacturing is no longer the way to go, while criticizing Republicans for trying to boost manufacturing jobs.
And more recently as lieutenant governor, he was calling for an end to the Manufacturing and Ag tax credit, what would have hiked taxes millions per year on both manufacturers and farmers.
He may believe he found a love song that will raise the dead, or he could have embraced the Republican belief in the sector, but his newfound belief in manufacturing warrants a question or two.
While he constantly references green job-training programs, Barnes steadfastly opposes job training programs for any of the state’s able-bodied, working age population currently on welfare. Even as employers are desperate for workers, and able-bodied adults can become independent and self-supporting thorough work, Barnes and Evers have been a hard no. The administration shut down the Medicaid job-training and work requirements for able-bodied, working age adults, and watched as the Medicaid rolls exploded to 1.58 million people, 27% of the state’s 5.8 million population. They no longer enforce the work search and job training requirements for able-bodied childless adults receiving FoodShare.
Barnes himself was on Medicaid while a candidate for office, just having purchased a home and having expenses paid by campaign funds and “savings.” It would likely have been inconvenient for flipocrite Barnes to work, so perhaps his experience as an able-bodied, working-age adult without dependents on welfare while having expenses picked up by donors informed his belief that taxpayers should pick up the tab for everyone who can, but doesn’t really want to, work.
Crime and Public Safety
This week, the Milwaukee Police Department released data showing the homicide rate is up 40% over the same time last year. And last year broke the previous record.
Some of these murders can directly be traced to the left’s years long soft-on-crime insistence that criminals commit crimes because too many things are against the law, and public safety has to be sacrificed because locking up criminals is too expensive, and it makes them feel bad about themselves. So, people get raped and murdered by habitual criminals who are out on bail or out on early release or who were able to plea bargain away felonies to avoid punishment.
Barnes has been right there with the far left. He and Evers prioritized releasing half the prison population, and they’ve freed 15% so far. The only bail reform he is interested in is the elimination of cash bail. He is focused on systemic racism as the cause of every societal ill – crime, climate change, etc.
The left’s insistence that crime is the result of systemic racism is a retread of the old ‘what was she wearing’ criminal-defending, excuse-making, responsibility-avoiding rhetoric used by people who not-so-secretly believe the victims are asking for it and that the criminals, mostly men, can’t possibly be expected to exercise self-control or obey the law. Barnes himself never spared a word for the Black woman who called the police telling them Jacob Blake raped her in front of her child. Or spoke when prosecutors cut a deal to drop the felony rape charge to land a disorderly conduct conviction. His concern is for the perpetrator.
And that concern is reflected in the policies of the Evers-Barnes Administration. As we’ve reported, their last budget proposed a complete overhaul of the criminal code, dumping Truth in Sentencing, reducing sentences, expanding early release along and a slew of other warm fuzzies for felons. One of the proposals called for consideration of dialing down sentenced for criminals up to age 25 – as if we don’t already have a major problem with juvenile crime – because the brains of 25-year-olds aren’t developed enough to understand murder is frowned upon.
Barnes is heavily backed and bankrolled by the defund the police movement, and was a vocal supporter of the movement, criticizing bloated police budgets and whiny cops. Now he’s extremely careful to stick to a particular phrase – that police should ‘have the funding they need to keep us safe’ – which could mean any level of funding, including massive cuts. The reason for his cautious phraseology is obvious: Wisconsin voters do not support defunding the police, especially as violent crime spiked across the state last year, and continues to escalate.
But as Empower Wisconsin reported, Barnes’ biggest bankroller is a group committed to defunding the police. And many other groups that support Barnes also support efforts to stop the enforcement of our laws, reduce the number of law enforcement officers, let more felons back on the streets, and generally just be nicer to criminals in the hope they will stop being so crime-y.
Just Don’t Enforce the Laws
As we reported in February, Barnes was such a big fan of the Abolish ICE movement he took to social media begging for a t-shirt. His fumbling attempts at backpedaling from this unpopular position has rendered his current position completely incomprehensible. He told Vote Smart he opposed enforcement of immigration laws by state and local police.
But his finance report may provide more clues to his position on immigration policies.
Barnes took repeated illegal contributions from the lobbyist for Voces de la Frontera, a group that wants to not only Abolish ICE, but also supports sanctuary cities, where local officials block enforcement of immigration laws.
Barnes’ Ban on Deer Hunting
As a legislator Barnes held a press conference to announced he would introduce legislation to require gun owners to undergo psychological examinations before being permitted for concealed carry, and outlawing deer hunting in the state by banning the only ammo legal for use during gun deer season.
While now his rhetoric on guns is largely about assault rifles, it’s worth remembering as he poses in rural Wisconsin farm fields, that Barnes would end deer hunting, and send over 12% of the adult population for psych exams. One in eight adults now have a concealed carry permit, a figure that increased after the unchecked riots Barnes praised as “inclusive community building.”
Even PolitiFact, who regularly plays Olympic-level Twister to contort rankings to favor the left, agreed Barnes’ ammo ban would ban deer hunting.
PAC Money and Millionaires
Since Barnes is a flipocrite whenever his policy priorities are out of whack with most people in the state, it’s instructive to look at his earlier comments. And at finance reports.
Barnes has sought to portray his campaign as unbeholden to corporate interests, and he pledged not to take PAC contributions. And he slings nearly constant arrows at millionaires – most recently two of his Democratic opponents.
But PAC dollars have been flowing in support of his campaign.
Much of the PAC support comes from Defund the Police groups. The newly-minted Courageous Leaders super PAC dedicated solely to supporting Barnes, funded with over $1 million from California mega-donor Karla Jurveston, a major funder of Defund the Police and Abolish ICE candidates, has just started spending in Wisconsin.
The ultra left-wing, lawless and largely unhinged Working Families Party (WFP), of which Barnes was a member and national committee member, and whose PAC is bankrolling support for Barnes is a major player in the Defund the Police movement. WFP’s has a Befriend the Felons platform demanding to: Defund the Police, Expunge Everything, Close All the Jails, Limit Arrests, Get Prisoners Voting, and End Incarceration.
Barnes has already been fined for taking PAC contributions in excess of legal limits from the Working Families Party, and then he falsely listed the in his campaign finance report as “legal fees.” And in recent days, the Barnes PAC spending has become a juggernaut of spending from the forces of the left who want to use Mandela Barnes as their tool to dismantle our justice system.
Regardless of how carefully Barnes is parsing his words on police funding, money talks, and the money is telling him to Defund the Police and let criminals roam free.
Dirty Elections, Dirty Money
Barnes has a long history of hyperbolic rhetoric opposing election integrity policies. He opposes Voter ID because it is a “vehicle for disenfranchisement.” He said the Supreme Court ruling that ballot drop boxes were not allowed under statute was an effort to strip every American of their fundamental rights. He said recounts in Milwaukee were simply attempts to disenfranchise black voters.
What Barnes hasn’t been vocal about is taking illegal campaign cash from lobbyists connected with two of the biggest efforts to destroy election integrity in our state’s history: the hijacking of our election administration by out of state Democrat operatives and the fraudulent use of voting as indefinitely confined in order to end-run Wisconsin’s Voter ID law.
Sam Munger, lobbyist for an automatic voter registration group, former Evers staffer, Zuckerbucks player and fellow State Information Exchange alum, a close colleague of Barnes, gave Barnes multiple illegal campaign contributions.
Scott McDonnell, the Dane County Clerk, lobbyist for their association, and the person responsible for telling clerks across the state that they could allow voters to end-run our Voter ID requirements by claiming to be indefinitely confined, also broke the law to give funds to Barnes.
These contributors are so intimately familiar with election laws in the state that they are go-to people when the left looks for loopholes, and neither they nor Barnes can hope to claim ignorance of the longstanding statutes regarding campaign contributions from lobbyists.
It’s another ethical fail, but it also may reveal just how extreme his opposition to clean elections really is.
Inflation Made Barnes Not Pay His Bills…in the Past
We know Barnes has been a deadbeat paying his bills. Sometimes he claimed it was an oversight, and sometimes the check was in the mail…now, he’s trying to suggest it was some kind of disturbance in the space-time continuum that prevented him from paying his taxes. In his debate answer on inflation he was shady as foliage.
- Moderator: How has inflation impacted you personally?
- Barnes: I know the impact of inflation firsthand (chuckle) there’ve been a number of stories written about my challenges… We need to hold companies accountable for using inflation as a smokescreen to jack up prices.
Barnes owns two homes. In addition to being delinquent on his property taxes, he also didn’t pay income taxes in 2018, and as an able-bodied working-age adult without children, received taxpayer funded Medicaid, while his campaign picked up his expenses, and he used apparently hefty savings to purchase not one but two condos between 2017 and 2019. He didn’t pay bills, including his taxes.
This was when inflation was under 2%, years before we entered the inflationary spiral brought on by the Biden Administration.
Barnes is rewriting history, using inflation as a smokescreen to fake a connection with families who are actually struggling to pay their bills, then shamelessly pointing fingers at others he claims are using inflation as a smokescreen to overcharge.
In the debate, Barnes took his cue from Biden chalking up inflation to corporate greed, supply chain issues, and “foreign governments that drive up costs,” and he has been praising Biden for the “accomplishments” that caused the inflationary spiral that’s hurting families:
In truth, Barnes doesn’t believe Biden went far enough in spiking inflation, as just this weekend, Barnes said he would vote for the Manchin-Schumer government spending deal that will drive up inflation even more, and raise taxes hundreds of billions of dollars.
And that seems to encapsulate The Mandela Barnes Effect: flip-flopping, hypocritical gaslighting in the hopes he’ll be elected based on collective false memories he planted about his policy positions.
As the frontrunner, and in just a matter of days the likely nominee, Barnes’ policy positions matter. His funders and his heart lie in the most extreme circles of the left, but he and his team – and his bankrollers – seem to know that keeping those radical policy positions under wraps until after election day is the best strategy.