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by Sharon Rondeau

Wisconsin State Senator Mark Miller is one of 14 legislators who have left the state to avoid a vote on the governor's proposed budget which would impact state employees' benefits

(Feb. 18, 2011) — The Politico is reporting that Obama’s campaign organization, Organizing for America, issued a statement late yesterday which said that it “is mobilizing on the ground in Wisconsin to defend the rights of public employees from an attempt by the governor to take away their right to organize.”  While Politico did not provide a link to the quoted statement from Organizing for America, The Post & Email has located it here.

Organizing for America is urging visitors to its site to “Join the Fight” and gives an email address for contacting “your local organizer.”  An article linked on Organizing for America states, “Organizing for America is mobilizing on the ground in Wisconsin to defend the rights of public employees from an attempt by the governor to take away their right to organize.”

One writer has asked, “Is it legal for a president to lobby a state legislature?”

This writer is asking, “Is it legal or constitutional for Obama’s Organizing for America to plan ‘similar protests in other state capitals'”?

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama himself stated that he had a “track record of standing alongside” unions “on picket lines…to build more and more power.”  He also stated that he would not have become a U.S. senator without the support of the SEIU.

At issue in Wisconsin is a proposed budget by newly-elected Governor Scott Walker which would reportedly “slash public workers’ benefits and most collective bargaining rights in an effort to address Wisconsin’s impending $3.6 billion dollar deficit.”  The governor is seeking to cut $131,000,000, which would require state employees, including teachers, to pay a larger share of health care premiums.

Jessie Lidbury, “OFA Wisconsin Regional Field Director,” said that protesters in Madison were chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!”  The AFL-CIO claimed that Walker’s proposed budget “strips state workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights, cuts pay and benefits and says there will be no negotiations.”

New York Magazine has reported that Obama supports those Wisconsin Democrat state senators who refused to convene at their state capitol for a scheduled vote on reducing benefits to union members in order to balance the state’s budget, instead fleeing to Illinois to “delay” the legislative process.  Obama has also criticized Governor Walker for refusing to accept $810,000,000 from the federal government to construct a railway between Milwaukee and Madison, WI.

However, according to the Tenth Amendment, that is Walker’s right.

One of the fugitive senators, John Erpenbach, claimed that he and the other missing senators are “absolutely doing our job” even while hiding in another state.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner weighed in by saying that Obama should cease his “attack” on “leaders such as Gov. Walker, who are listening to the people and confronting problems that have been neglected for years at the expense of jobs and economic growth.”

Governor Walker stated at a press conference on Thursday that the cuts in pension and health care benefits for “most state employees” are necessary to avoid a layoff of between 10,000 and 12,000 state employees.  He described the budget proposal cuts which would affect union members as “modest.”  Walker expressed concern over the prospect of layoffs, and his website states that an increase in employment is his first priority.  Currently Wisconsin has a $3.6 billion budget deficit.

For at least two years, there have been predictions that a majority of the 50 states would be bankrupt by 2010.  In November 2009, WorldNetDaily reported that ten states were facing “imminent bankruptcy,” among them, Wisconsin.

Earlier today, Washington Post writer Greg Sargent, who interviewed one of the missing Wisconsin senators, reported that the Wisconsin State Police had been dispatched to the home of at least one senator who fled to Illinois.  An AP report out of Madison stated that “Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told reporters he has asked the governor to send two state troopers to Senate Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller’s suburban Madison home.”

Wisconsin state senators earn a salary of $49, 943 yearly as well as a payment of $75 during the months in which the legislature meets for three days or fewer.  According to the Associated Press, “Senate rules and the state constitution say absent members can be compelled to appear, but it does not say how.”

Article IV, Section 15 of the Wisconsin constitution states:

Members of the legislature shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest; nor shall they be subject to any civil process, during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement and after the termination of each session.

An annotation to Article IV, Section 15 further states:

The members of the Wisconsin Constitutional Convention did not intend to create a legislative privilege from criminal arrest and prosecution when they included article IV, section 15 in the Wisconsin Constitution. The phrase “treason, felony and breach of the peace” in that section was intended to mean all crimes. State v. Burke, 2002 WI App 291, 258 Wis. 2d 832, 653 N.W.2d 922, 02-2161.

Regarding legislators’ duties, the constitution reads:

Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.

Senator Mark Miller, the Democrat Leader in the Wisconsin Senate, “opposes Governor Walker’s radical attack on workers.” One of the 14 missing senators, Miller reportedly contacted media outlet CNN with a list of demands for the governor but would not say where he is staying.

A citizen video appeared on YouTube which depicted two Wisconsin senators who allegedly fled to Rockford, IL, a location confirmed by other reports, to avoid the budget vote.  However, Republican legislators reportedly moved the bill forward by discussing amendments to it today and expect a vote on Tuesday.

The state of Wisconsin has local grand juries.  A reference booklet for federal grand jurors is available on the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin website, as is an instructional pamphlet.  A publication of the Wisconsin of the Legislative Reference Bureau which details the different types of juries in Wisconsin states:

The function of the grand jury is to determine if sufficient evidence exists to charge a person with a crime.  If the grand jury determines a crime has been committed, an indictment is presented to the court, charging the accused of wrongdoing, and outlining the specific charges punishable by law.

Has the issue of 14 state senators fleeing the state to avoid their constitutional duty been presented to a Wisconsin grand jury?  Could the governor present the issue for examination?

And what about Obama’s planned protests in other states?  Is he defending the U.S. Constitution or acting against it?  Why is he involving himself and his office in state matters?  Could such activity be considered “high crimes and misdemeanors?”

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  1. When will someone finally ask about all the funds in the state and county CAFR accounts? (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” – the off-books accounting) These protests are just another sideshow-distraction.

  2. Wouldn’t the “legislators” be guilty of an impeachable offense in that they are clearly derelict in their duties as they have deliberately obstructed the lawful activity of the legislature and deliberately failed and refused to act to represent their constituents and the taxpayers of the State who employ them.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: I would certainly think so.

  3. Ladies and Gentlemen,The enemy is not at the gates,but within them.The reason I know this to be a fact is simply because of the efforts of “Citizen Grand Juries” who studied all available evidence and true presentments ,did make,to over 400 legislators.This link will take you to just one of these “Presentments/Indictments” that has been condensed in the interest of brevity.Have a look ,and YOU decide !


  4. I was born and have lived in Georgia except the Four years Active duty in the USCG.

    Early on I worked at a place with a union and I had no choice but to join and pay their dues. That is what they have in Wisconsin.

    Later GA became a right to work state. That means a Union can exist and collect dues but they can’t force you to join that union and pay dues in order for you to work or keep your job at that company.

    When the Gov. of Wisconsin says he is giving the people of Wisconsin a choice he is telling the truth.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

    Right-to-work laws are statutes enforced in twenty-two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.


    1. The so-called Right to Work states created a tremendous move of companies from the Northern states to the Southern states all to avoid the power of unions to set high wages and even worst work rules. Of course over the past 20 years that movement has been to other countries even as far as China. It isn’t that workers are paid cheap wages but the exchange rate makes it appear that way.

  5. This morning I received an unsolicited email from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry (@info.seiu.org) entitled “Are you watching what’s happening in Wisconsin” urging me to go to http://www.seiu.me/wisconsin and let them know I support them. I did indeed go there and let them know I support them going to jail, going directly to jail, not passing go, not collecting $0.01. :-) I also let Mary Kay Henry know how I felt about her unsolicited email in no uncertain terms. :-)

    I tried to post her email here but got a spam warning message.

  6. Thank You, Mrs. Rondeau, at this point in time, uneducated people in the Law-(like myself)- need to solicit as much Truthful and Honest Opinion and Information as can be found, This is most certainly a very Critical and Trying time for our Nation~Little People need ALL the help we can get! Incidentally, your P&E site is my first stop, every morning, Thanks for being here!
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: And thank you for stopping!

  7. If grand juries exist in Wisconsin, that are independent, and take their findings to the court of investigation, we need examples of their history, the cases for which they convened, and the results of bringing their findings to the court. This would help other states and the Grand Jury movement understand what to do, if their local states indeed have grand juries allowed, but lawyers and judges have pushed them aside, trying to hide the rights of citizens.

    Then the court officials could see that this is indeed a historic legal practice, it is even currently used in other states, and it is required to be used in all states that have such juries in their laws.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: The grand jury is mentioned in the Fifth Amendment, so all states should convene them. Unfortunately, several state legislatures have passed “laws” which have done exactly what you said: done away with them so that citizen involvement is no longer possible. The early grand juries met without a prosecutor to review evidence of a crime and brought their findings to law enforcement, which then acted upon it. Because most states still convene grand juries, it is possible that one would could function as it was intended: without pressure from or even the presence of a prosecutor, acting totally independently. The grand jury was intended to uphold the rights of citizens and to oversee judges, prosecutors, and other court personnel. They are also charged with overseeing the conditions of the local jail. I wonder if the Monroe County grand jury has ever done anything in that regard?

  8. Wow, I knew the Democrats were not playing by the rules. Democrats only play by the rules they make up or select for their expedient use. Now it seems clear that they are also committing crimes to defend an segment of their political base: bought and paid for public employees.

  9. Wisconsin Governor Walker should do the same thing former President Regan did…give the AWOL government employees 24 hours to return to work or else!

  10. I’d say the democrat Senators are commiting a felony and are subject to possible presentment of charges by a grand jury. The applicable statutes are as follows:

    Chapter 19
    General Duties of Public Officials

    Sub-Chapter III

    (13) No state public official or candidate for state public office may, directly or by means of an agent, give, or offer or promise to give, or withhold, or offer or promise to withhold, his or her vote or influence, or promise to take or refrain from taking official action with respect to any proposed or pending matter in consideration of, or upon condition that, any other person make or refrain from making a political contribution, or provide or refrain from providing any service or other thing of value, to or for the benefit of a candidate, a political party, any person who is subject to a registration requirement under s. 11.05, or any person making a communication that contains a reference to a clearly identified state public official holding an elective office or to a candidate for state public office.

    19.58 Criminal penalties.


    (a) Any person who intentionally violates any provision of this subchapter except s. 19.45 (13) or 19.59 (1) (br), or a code of ethics adopted or established under s. 19.45 (11) (a) or (b), shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year in the county jail or both.

    (b) Any person who intentionally violates s. 19.45 (13) or 19.59 (1) (br) is guilty of a Class I felony.

    (2) The penalties under sub. (1) do not limit the power of either house of the legislature to discipline its own members or to impeach a public official, or limit the power of a department to discipline its state public officials or employees.

    (3) In this section “intentionally” has the meaning given under s. 939.23.

    The question is; does anyone in Wisconsin’s grand juries have the guts to hold them accountable for their actions!
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Thank you, Mr. Fasano!

    1. Mr. Fasano: Sir, you appear to be quite learned in Law, would you consider applying your informational skills in the direction of the U.S. Constitution, in particular the “Eligibility Clause”,and the 10th, 14th, 17th and 18th Amendments?? I understand that to post opinion or information in this environment would expose yourself to a “Open Wound”, but the supporters of this Website and the Constitution need further information they can understand.
      Mrs. Rondeau replies: The Post & Email has covered Mr. Fasano’s grand jury case in several increments, with another expected shortly, and he is indeed very well-versed in both the Nevada and U.S. Constitutions.

    2. > I’d say the democrat Senators are commiting a felony

      I’m not sure I agree with that opinion. 19.45(13) effectively deals with selling votes or non-votes to others, not with not voting itself by personal decision.
      Let me cut out the relevant parts that you may be referring to:

      “No state public official or candidate for state public office may […] withhold […] his or her vote […] in consideration of, or upon condition that, any other person make or refrain from making a political contribution”.

      So you see the relevant part is the last one (referring to “political contribution”) – simply not voting does not meet the requirements of 19.45(13). Because the same holds for “give” instead of “withhold”, and you’re not going to argue that voting is a crime according to 19.45(13), right? ;)

      So if you are trying to look for a punishable offense possibly committed by the state senators, you would have to look somewhere else.
      Mrs. Rondeau replies: What about the fact that they are purposely absent from the job which they have been elected and are being paid to do?

      1. > What about the fact that they are purposely absent from the job which they have been elected and are being paid to do?

        Senate Rule 16 of the Wisconsin legislative rules says:

        “Members of the senate may not be absent from the daily session during the entire day without first obtaining a leave of absence. The leave may be granted at any time by a majority vote of the senate.”

        Senate Rule 15 says:

        “[…] a smaller number, however, can adjourn and may compel the attendance of absent members […]”

        However I don’t see what the options are for violation of these rules. Certainly there is no criminal offense attached in any form. I don’t think it is clear how “may compel” is to be interpreted, maybe one has to look into case law on this issue.
        Mrs. Rondeau replies: Fox News has reported today that the 14 senators may be removed from their positions.

      2. > Fox News has reported today that the 14 senators may be removed from their positions.

        Did they say on what legal basis? AFAIK the only procedure is a recall (recall election) following a petition by state constituents (and I am pretty sure such an attempt will be made by the WI constituents).
        In 2003, Gary George, state senator of Wisconsin, was recalled.
        Mrs. Rondeau replies: Yes, I believe a petition for recall was mentioned. Enough signatures would have to be gathered to trigger a recall election.