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OBAMA’S POLITICAL MACHINE “MOBILIZING ON THE GROUND IN WISCONSIN”
by Sharon Rondeau
(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.
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?”