Thursday, January 6, 2011

So When Does This All Become A Conflict Of Interest?

That someone is the law firm of Michael Best and Friedrich. And it appears this is one heck of a snugglefest for the law firm, Walker and his campaign, and the Republicans in general.

Emily Mills, writing for the Isthmus, points out that Walker and the Republicans as called upon the Michael Best and Friedrich law firm to help them with their power grab on redistricting. Ms. Mills also finds out an interesting fact in that Reince Priebus, head of WISGOP and backstabber to Michael Steele:

The GOP is hiring two outside law firms, Michael Best and Friedrich and Troupis Law Office, to help them draw the new legislative district boundaries -- but disallowing the Democrats to hire their own attorneys for the process.

And -- surprise surprise! -- there are direct ties between Republican officials and these firms:

Reince Priebus, chairman of the state's Republican Party and a candidate to lead the Republican National Committee, works for Michael Best. But campaign finance reports show attorneys from the firm have donated to both Republicans and Democrats. James Troupis, who has frequently contributed to Republican campaigns, worked at Michael Best for years before starting his own company last year.

Is it wrong to hire people one knows and presumably trusts for this kind of work? Not inherently, I don't think, but it certainly warrants a raised eyebrow or two. Add on top of that the fact that the fees charged by these outside firms will likely be paid for with taxpayer money, and that Democrats aren't being allowed the same benefit, however, and this goes from suspect to dirty pretty fast.

Well, well. Isn't that a nice bit of payback? But wait, that's not all!

The name of the law firm triggered a red flag for me, making me think that Walker had another tie in to this law firm. Sure enough, he does. Michael Best and Friedrich is also the employer of former US Attorney Steven Biskupic, who Walker's campaign has retained to defend itself (and Walker) from the growing investigation into campaign law violations and Walker's campaign:

In a widening probe, Milwaukee County prosecutors are pushing forward with their two-prong criminal investigation into campaign activity by county staffers for Governor-elect Scott Walker and questionable donations by a Walker supporter.

Sources say the case has gotten to the point that the Walker campaign recently brought in former U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic, now with Michael Best & Friedrich. Walker will step down next week as Milwaukee County executive.

The same law firm is defending Walker and his campaign from the growing scandal and doing work to rig elections so that Walker and his Republican allies can stay in power for the next ten years.

And all this time the Republicans have been saying that Democrats have been the ones with tight relations with trial lawyers. Ha! They're pikers compared to Walker and his crew.

The big question though is this: So when does this become an official conflict of interest?

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