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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Leaked Doyle campaign e-mail raises eyebrows

On the same day U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Green Bay, appeared in court to challenge the order to return illegal campaign money, Gov. Jim Doyle faced scrutiny for the recent exposure of an e-mail to State Elections Board members from a Doyle employee.  


Michael Maistelman, an election lawyer, sent an e-mail to two Democratic board members, outlining suggested actions for the board to take against Green in his use of more than $468,000 in Political Action Committee funds.  


Maistelman closed the e-mail with, ""even if this ends up in court it is a PR victory for us since it makes Green spend money and have to defend the use of his Washington, D.C. dirty money."" 


Green's Campaign Manager, Luke Punzenberger, said Maistelman has received $21,411 worth of legal payments from the Doyle campaign in the last three years. The Green team alleges the e-mail exchange inappropriately influenced the Board's ruling, a statement said.  


According to State Election Board member and e-mail recipient Kerry Dwyer, Maistelman's suggestions had no bearing on her ""independent"" decision.  


""His input was unnecessary and meaningless as far as my decision making process. It's distracted from the issue here,"" Dwyer said. 


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Dwyer said her decision was ""a no-brainer"" based on Wisconsin state law. ""If you're going to run for office in our state, you need to comply by our laws,"" she said. 


Dwyer said she knew Maistelman as an ""impassioned Democrat,"" from his frequent appearances at board meetings but ""had no knowledge"" of his employment by Doyle. Dwyer noted Maistelman often stated he was not being compensated for his input on a variety of issues.  


However, Penzenburger claimed, ""Maistelman was even asked to help in preparing the motion needed to harm the Green campaign.""  


Both Dwyer and Doyle's deputy spokesperson, Anne Lupardus, said the election board's legal counsel, George Dunst, deemed the e-mail ""appropriate."" 


""Of course an elections lawyer is talking to the State Elections Board about this complaint,"" Lupardus said. ""You can bet that Congressman Green had his own counsel communicating with the Board as well."" 


Jay Heck, director for Common Cause Wisconsin, a non-partisan government reform group, said the decision ordering Green to return PAC money was correct, but an unfortunate example of selective enforcement by the Board. He said the decision was ""overshadowed by the partisanship"" that exists within the Board.  


""This has certainly cast a negative feel over the process that is not valid and should not be there,"" Dwyer said.  


Heck said this example further illustrates the need for reform within the Board to eliminate any partisanship and restore legitimacy.  


Despite the controversy the e-mail has caused for the Democrats, Green's appearance in court Thursday was met with protest by UW-Madison College Democrats. 


Green's attorney Don Millis said the e-mail was not introduced as evidence in court. Millis expects the judge to rule Monday.

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