Oshkosh Northwestern: Litjens Is a Legislator AND a Lobbyist

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An Oshkosh Northwestern editorial today roasted Michelle “Bachmann” Litjens for sponsoring a bill that first and foremost serves her own business interests

Litjens’s bill would “prohibit municipal utilities from placing tenants” unpaid utility bills on a landlord’s property tax bill at the end of each year. Fair is fair, right? Wrong. City Manager Mark Rohloff says the bill is “‘patently unfair to rate-payers who pay their bills every month‘ since they would face higher rates to cover unpaid delinquencies and the utilities’ cost to try and collect unpaid bills.”

So essentially, Litjens is pushing the burden away from landlords back on to tenants who DO pay their bills on time. Typical right-wing stuff. But why does Litjens even care about such matters. The Northwestern has your answer:

Making the bill less palatable: Litjens and her husband, Tony, own and manage 24 apartment buildings in Oshkosh, according to city and Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions records. The properties total 133 units under Tony and Michelle Litjens and companies they control. Some of her buildings offer water costs included in the rent, while others have utilities charged to tenants. A search of the Litjens’ properties found they owe, as of last week, $2,326 on the 15 properties where they receive a bill addressed to them. Tenants at their properties owe hundreds of additional dollars, city utility bill records show.

The Northwestern then smacks down Litjens’s Michelle Bachmannesque response to the accusation that she’s drafting legislation that serves her own interests over the interests of her constituents.

“The state’s Ethics Board has said when you don’t have a direct benefit, there is no ethical violation,” Litjens said. “If my tenants all paid their water bills, it wouldn’t affect me at all.”

Litjens’ “if” defense of her action is a shallow rationale that gives the appearance of petty, self-serving legislation.

The editorial board asked whether she was being a legislator or lobbyist, and then answered its own question: “For all practical purposes, Litjens is serving as both a legislator and a lobbyist on this issue.”

[Oshkosh Northwestern]

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.