By: Brian Sikma
UPDATE: This article was updated at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2011 to include more emails between Rep. Sandy Pasch and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
As the barbecue for votes scandal involving Wisconsin Jobs Now! draws significant media attention, Rep. Sandy Pasch has spent the early days of this week attempting to distance herself from the organization. Pasch serves on the board of directors of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a liberal umbrella group that is the parent organization of Wisconsin Jobs Now! Interestingly, WJN is only operating within the 8th Senate District, where Pasch is attempting to unseat Sen. Alberta Darling in a recall election next Tuesday.
After Media Trackers brought to light Pasch’s connection with Citizen Action and WJN, questions were raised about whether or not Pasch and her campaign have coordinated with the liberal non-profit groups. Such coordination would be a violation of state election law. Speaking to the Milwaukee Press Club on Monday, Pasch denied having any involvement with the political activities of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, even though she serves on the group’s board.
The Journal-Sentinel reported that that Pasch “said she has had no contact with anyone at Citizen Action regarding any political activities.” A local reporter for the Foxpoint Patch news website quoted Pasch as saying:
“I have not had no [sic] contact with them about any political activities or any political plans that theyve been making. I cut off contact with them.”
This theme was reiterated by Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials.
The truthfulness of Rep. Pasch’s statements are brought into question as a result of e-mails obtained by Media Trackers through an open records request on Rep. Pasch’s office. A number of the more than 1,500 e-mails obtained were from Robert Kraig, the executive director of Citizen Action, to his board members. Kraig used Pasch’s official e-mail address quite frequently when updating her on what Citizen Action of Wisconsin was doing, and what actions the board of directors needed to take.
One particularly fascinating exchange took place from June 1 through June 5 between a Citizen Action staffer, Jennifer Epps, and Pasch’s aide, Fred Ludwig. Citizen Action was looking to film promotional statements by liberal lawmakers opposed to Gov. Walker’s proposed reform to the Wisconsin Shares program. The exchange includes both sides working to nail down a time for Pasch to record the video statement, and also finds the Citizen Action staffer offering some helpful insight into a way Pasch could get on a radio show at WMCS to promote the issue.
Sandy Pasch announced her campaign to unseat Alberta Darling on May 6. The exchange about a promotional video and potential radio show appearance between Pasch’s office and Citizen Action of Wisconsin came nearly a month into the election. Clearly some measure of coordination was taking place, and it must be assumed that Citizen Action of Wisconsin was aware of the political value that Pasch could have put on having a video filmed by Citizen Action of Wisconsin shown to supporters.
Other e-mails discovered include talking points sent to Pasch’s office by Citizen Action of Wisconsin on February 12 outlining what Citizen Action believed to be effective ways of opposing the Budget Repair Bill. That e-mail also included a note that Citizen Action would be helping to lead the way on the massive protests that engulfed Madison in the following weeks.
Several e-mails were quick reminders about upcoming Citizen Action board meetings, including one hosted by WEAC. It also appears that the SEIU will be hosting a Citizen Action board meeting on December 9 at 260 E. Highland Avenue in Milwaukee.
One final e-mail of note was sent on March 18 to Rep. Pasch’s official e-mail address asking her to reply with her completed ballot regarding candidates that Citizen Action of Wisconsin should endorse in the Spring election. Robert Kraig reminded the board that, “You as the Board of Directors make the final decision on all endorsements.” Members were asked to include Matt Brusky, the treasurer of the dubious Wisconsin Jobs Now! group and political director for Citizen Action, on their reply.
Clearly the truth is not exactly as Rep. Sandy Pasch would have the public believe. Her statements to the press about her involvement with Citizen Action of Wisconsin would appear to be at best misspoken, at worst misleading. The e-mails obtained show a history of coordination between her official office and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and they show the extent of the political duties involved in serving as a board member for Citizen Action.
The e-mails obtained by Media Trackers are only the tip of the iceberg. They only reveal a tremendous amount of communication between Rep. Pasch’s office and Citizen Action of Wisconsin. There is no way to judge, outside of a legal subpoena, how many e-mails are exchanged between Pasch, her treasurer Jackie Boynton, Matt Brusky, and Robert Kraig via personal or campaign e-mail addresses. Judging from the publicly available e-mails, it would appear to be incredible to believe that all of these parties have failed to communicate and coordinate on political activities.
UPDATE: See new emails below added at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2011.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin Board activities regarding Spring elections: PaschCitizenActionBoardPoliticalActions
Coordination between Rep. Pasch’s office and Citizen Action of Wisconsin: E-mailPaschCitizenActionVideoCoordination
Rep. Sandy Pasch Is Notified Of A Citizen Action Board Meeting on May 13, at WEAC Offices: Citizen Action Board Meeting On May 13
Rep. Sandy Pasch’s Office Received Talking Points From Citizen Action During the Budget Repair Battle: Citizen Action Talking Points On Budget Repair Bill