By James Wigderson
JANESVILLE, WI – At a Saturday rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Randy Bryce told a whopper that even many of his supporters couldn’t cheer. Bryce told the audience that he has never paid a bill from money made as a politician.
“There are some people that claim that I have been a politician,” Bryce said to a crowded, unairconditioned UAW hall in Janesville. “But I can say without a doubt that I haven’t been able to pay one bill on a politician’s salary.”
Unlike Bryce’s other intended applause lines, this one only received a tepid response from the large, sweating mass of enthusiastic Democrats in the room. Perhaps it was because they read the newspapers.
Bryce was possibly responding to a Wisconsin Politifact article that pointed out Bryce is running for public office for the fourth time in six years. Bryce lost in all three prior elections. The “fact-checking” column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gave Bryce a “mostly false” rating for saying that he’s not a politician.
That may have been Bryce’s intention, but the same newspaper reported in a column by Dan Bice that the candidate is being paid by the Democratic political consultants Wavecrest Consulting and Analytics, which is owned and operated by former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate. The information for the story came from a required federal campaign financial disclosure form which requires candidates to declare payments greater than $5000.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Bryce campaign has refused to say how much more than $5000 the Democratic consulting firm has paid the candidate.
Bryce’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Cathy Myers, politely declined to respond to our inquiry about Bryce’s statement at the Sanders rally. However, Myers’ campaign spokesman Dennis Hughes told Bice that he believes Bryce is violating campaign finance law by not disclosing the full amount paid.
“House ethics rules were established to set a minimum standard for transparency, so voters deserve to know what Randy Bryce is trying to hide,” Hughes said to the Journal Sentinel reporter.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) agreed that Bryce needs to be transparent about how much the Democratic consulting firm is paying him.
“Randy attempted to become a politician three times before and voters rejected him every single time,” said Chris Martin, the regional press secretary for the NRCC, in a statement on Monday. “He should disclose why he’s now being paid by a liberal political consulting firm – including what he’s doing for them while running for office and how much he’s being paid to do it.”
“Randy attempted to become a politician three times before and voters rejected him every single time. He should disclose why he’s now being paid by a liberal political consulting firm – including what he’s doing for them while running for office and how much he’s being paid to do it.”
By saying that he’s never paid a bill from the money he’s made as a politician, Bryce may have also been referring to his tendency to let bills go unpaid. Bryce was over two months delinquent on his child support payments until he launched his campaign for congress, an issue for which he has been criticized by both Democrats (including his opponent in the primary) and Republicans. In addition, a mysterious “Democratic lawyer” suddenly negotiated and paid off another of Bryce’s debts from 2004 after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel began investigating the story.
Bryce’s financial missteps and arrangements with the Democratic Party have not been the only controversies surrounding his campaign. Bryce has also been the subject of recent report by CNN that he has a record of being arrested nine times. Many of the arrests stem from being pulled over in Michigan for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in 1998. Following that arrest, Bryce failed to make court appearances and was arrested three times for driving after his license was revoked. Bryce also has a record of being arrested in 1991, on his 27th birthday, for marijuana possession, property damage, trespassing and theft. CNN reported the theft and trespassing charges were dropped.
Ironically, honesty was one of the themes of Sanders’ speech at the Saturday rally for Bryce.
“Politics aside, as so many of us are parents, the grandfather of seven beautiful children,” Sanders said, sweat pouring through his shirt in the stifling heat of the unventilated packed union hall. “What we try to do as parents and grandparents is say to our children,’tell the truth.’”
After talking about the children, Sanders turned his attention to President Donald Trump.
“It is a national disgrace that we have a president who is a pathological liar,” Sanders told the overheated crowd. “How do you have a vibrant democracy when you have a president who lies every day?”
Despite the sweltering conditions, the crowd roared its approval of every one of Sanders’ punchlines. However, Sanders never addressed the controversies surrounding Bryce’s candidacy to discuss his honesty. Perhaps we should blame it on the heat.