When Figures Do Lie

The adage “figures don’t lie, but liars sure figure,” has withstood the test of time; numbers don’t deceive but those who manipulate them often do, although not always intentionally.  Take the case of Wisconsin State Senator Tom Tiffany (R)-Hazelhurst. He tells Media Trackers in referring to the most recent legislative session: “No doubt about it of my four sessions in the legislature, I rank this one as my most productive.”

Yet if you look at data published by the Wheeler Report, Tiffany had the dubious distinction of being the only Republican senator this session not to see one of his bills signed into law. The Wheeler spreadsheet shows Tiffany going 0-20. Is the number correct? It is. Yet 18 were signed into law where all, or a majority of them had Tiffany as the lead author, according to his office. So, which number is real? Both of them are, according to Tiffany and staffer Tyler Wenzlaff.

Wenzlaff says that all the bills ended up being Assembly Bills when they received final approval and were sent to the Governor. Wenzlaff and Tiffany both point out that the 0-20 is obviously misleading because Tiffany was the lead author of a bill that repeals Wisconsin’s mining moratorium. The bill was championed in the Assembly by Representative Rob Hutton. Wenzlaff said “it’s unusual, but that’s the way the system works. The Assembly passed a ton of bills.” And Wenzlaff says that means the Assembly co-author got the credit on all the bills Tiffany authored in the senate.

Tiffany said he was caught off guard when he saw he was the only GOP senator without a signed bill to his name, but he says he doesn’t care who gets credit:

 I don’t care as long as the bill gets through. I’m seeking to get as much reform in a bill as possible; often times it gets pared back, the mining bill is a good example. Senator Petroski had some changes he insisted on at the end. Some times you’ve got to pare the bill backed a little bit to get it past.

All other Republican senators are credited with at least five signed bills, with two exceptions: Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald with three and Senate President Roger Roth with two.

Wenzlaff provided a spreadsheet with the bills Tiffany co-authored:

2017-09-08 Legislative Matrix (2)