One Wisconsin Now has filed a complaint with the state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) against Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and its seven-member special interest army for failure to report lobbying activities. In an August 20, 2008 memo authored by WMC’s chief lobbyist Jim Buchen claims ‘WMC actively lobbied for final passage of the UW budget,’ yet no lobbying activity was reported by WMC to the GAB for the University of Wisconsin budget, as required under law.
This WMC memo was released shortly after out-going UW Chancellor John Wiley criticized them for the ‘toxic’ political atmosphere that they have created in Wisconsin. In the memo, Buchen claims that WMC tried to influence legislation on the UW budget but it does not list the UW as a budget bill subject in which it lobbied in 2007-2008. In addition, GAB’s listing for lobbying activities for the UW budget does not include WMC as having registered any lobbying. When a lobbying entity files with the GAB they are also required by statute to list the general areas of legislative action that they are trying to influence. WMC’s own website does not indicate that it lobbies on higher education or funding the UW.
WMC may have undue influence with conservatives in the state legislature, but it still can’t ignore the same laws that every other lobbying group must follow. This situation should force WMC to finally come clean. Did they fail to follow the law, or was their chief lobbyist being dishonest when he suggested that the group tried to help the UW? WMC should be required to answer the question and be held accountable for their actions.