Wisconsin

Streetcar Lobbyist Gary Goyke

Policy

By Collin Roth

Last week, the cost of the already dubious Milwaukee streetcar project nearly doubled and a litany of questions were raised about the viability and necessity of such a project. Reports from the Public Services Commission revealed the 2.1 mile loop for the streetcar would cost an additional $70 million in utility costs on top of the $64.1 million price tag mostly covered by $55 million in federal funds.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderman Robert Bauman have been the two most outspoken proponents of the streetcar project.

But who has been the most outspoken proponent of the Milwaukee streetcar project to public officials like Barrett and Bauman?

That would be Gary Goyke, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association and the High Speed Rail Association of Wisconsin.

Goyke has a unique background, serving as a Democratic State Senator from Oshkosh in the 1970’s and 1980’s before pursuing a career as a lobbyist. But Goyke’s career as a lobbyist has been marred by scandal and illegal activities.

  • In 1988, Goyke had criminal charges brought against him for purchasing meals, drinks, and hotel rooms for Democratic State Senator Barbara Ulichny at a 1987 Legislator’s Conference in Boston. Goyke was convicted but retained the ability to lobby as a result of a plea bargain.
  • In 1990, Goyke plead no contest to four felony counts of illegal campaign contributions after reimbursing employees at his lobbying firm for political donations.
  • In the ensuing years, Goyke has faced a litany of legal issues including twelve different tax warrants for unpaid taxes and ten different cases of unpaid worker’s compensation.
  • In 2010, Goyke was fined by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for excessive campaign contributions during the 2008 election and was forced to pay $6,449.07.

In recent months, Goyke has not shied away from supporting both Barrett and Bauman, the two biggest proponents of the Milwaukee streetcar.

During the 2010 campaign, Goyke contributed a total of $4,000 to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign for governor. Goyke’s wife Nancy Rottier, a legislative liaison for the Director of State Courts, contributed $1,500 to Barrett’’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Goyke also serves on the Board of Directors for the left-wing environmental organization Clean Wisconsin, chairing the Clean Wisconsin Action Fund, a 501c4 election and advocacy arm that endorsed Tom Barrett for Governor.

As chief lobbyist on behalf of the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association, Goyke presented streetcar cheerleader Alderman Bob Bauman with the 2011 Outstanding Public Servant Award in September for “his leadership in making the Milwaukee streetcar project a reality.”

Goyke is one of the main advocates behind the scenes for such projects as the Talgo “high-speed” rail project and the Milwaukee streetcar. Goyke called the cancellation of the the Talgo train “tragic” despite the savings garnered by not having to pay the operating costs for a unnecessary train.

What is most striking about Goyke’s record is his dedication to advocacy and corruption. When it comes to paying taxes, Goyke might be one of the least dependable citizens in Wisconsin. But when it comes to paying politicians and buying influence, often times with his own money, you cannot find a more dedicated advocate for one’s particular interest or project.

As of today, Gary Goyke is the streetcar lobbyist.