Via the Cap Times
Rep. Robin Vos is fast developing a reputation as the most scandal-plagued member of the Legislature.
Last year Vos, R-Burlington, used his position as co- chairman of the Joint Finance Committee to halt deliberations on serious state budget issues in order to advance legislation promoted by out-of-state interests — specifically, the American Legislative Exchange Council, with which Vos has long been associated. That legislation, a voter ID law opposed by the League of Women Voters and other civic groups because it was seen as a crude voter-intimidation gimmick, was eventually ruled unconstitutional.
Last spring, it was revealed that Vos was engaged in a scheme to game the redistricting process by asking legislators to deceive their fellow legislators and the public.
Now Vos has gotten entangled in an ethics scandal that has forced him to withdraw from a lawsuit regarding the voter ID legislation.
Though ethics laws are clear on the fact that it is illegal for legislators to accept gifts of legal services — which can be worth tens of thousands of dollars — Vos engaged private lawyers to represent him in the efforts to defend his constitutionally dubious legislation. But instead of paying for the lawyers himself, Vos had others pay. And he refused to reveal who was paying.
After watchdog groups called Vos out on the issue, the powerful Republican legislator withdrew from the lawsuit. The group One Wisconsin Now says: “Vos’ withdrawal from the suit is an apparent admission (that) however the bills were being paid ran afoul of state ethics laws.”
This is true. But Wisconsinites are entitled to more than an unspoken admission of wrongdoing. Vos should answer the questions One Wisconsin Now and other groups are asking:
- Who has been paying Vos’ legal bills?
- Has Vos provided anything in return? Met with them regarding legislation? Consulted with them regarding election strategies?
- Who recruited Vos to join the voter ID lawsuit?
- Vos claims Government Accountability Board guidance led him to believe he could have his legal bills paid by others. What form did this guidance take? Can Vos now share it with the public?
“It’s far past time Rep. Vos stop the stonewalling, come forward and shoot straight with the people of Wisconsin,” says Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now.
We agree. If Vos cannot resolve this scandal, quickly and with full transparency, voters have every right to ask why he should remain in the Legislature.