Scott Suder: Agent of C.H.A.N.G.E.

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Actually, it's more like Scott Suder: Agent of A.L.E.C.

What is it about Republican Party operatives named Scott? They all sooner or later seem to get into trouble after messing around with our democracy, but when they're investigated or even charged with crimes in the process, they always somehow manage to get away with it --scott free. Just look at the short list: Scott Jensen; Scott Walker; Scott Fitzgerald, and now, Scott Suder.

Suder is the former Republican state assemblyman and majority leader who recently resigned. Soon he will comfortably be cradled in the heady confines of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), the vital state agency that regulates giant utility companies, or at least used to regulate them before conservative appointees decided, in effect, that the commission should allow itself to be captured by the interests it is supposed to watch over. Apparently, the free market and deregulation are greater principles than fairness, protection of consumers and serious scrutiny of monopoly business practices.

In his new PSC job, Suder will earn $94,000 a year — an 88% increase over the $49,943 he made as a legislator. He'll be in charge of the agency divisions responsible for water compliance and consumer affairs. Gee, what could possibly go wrong?

In his pitch for the position (which, let's be honest, was already wired by the Walker administration), Suder claimed he was suited for the task because he's a "change agent." Spare change, anyone?

This, after all, is the guy who, in one of his final acts as a lawmaker, came up with the misbegotten plan to hand out half a million state tax dollars to United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, (a boon the law potentially would repeat in perpetuity every two years). United Sportsmen is a poorly organized, highly political front group for Republican interests that's tried to pass itself off as a not-for-profit group interested only in teaching hunters and fishers.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The group and its affiliate have boards that include two former GOP state senators, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, a former chief of staff to Suder and a tea party activist."

The measure granting United Sportsmen the huge public funding giveaway was tucked into the massive state budget by Suder and others, then acted upon at nearly the stroke of midnight with minimal debate. Although Gov. Walker initially signed much of the bill's language into law, the Walker adminsitration later rescinded the deal in total when news stories made it obvious the group had misrepresented itself.

Based on its political activity in the recent past, United Sportsmen apparently thinks that allowing a Florida mining group to dig a mini-Grand Canyon across miles of northwestern Wisconsin forest will be good ... for sportsmen! The group also has spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying state lawmakers in favor of bills enabling broader development in Wisconsin's supposedly protected wetlands.

Like United Sportsmen, Suder himself is heavily involved with ALEC -- the American Legislative Research Council, a national, right-wing interest group that "helps" legislators in many states by drafting "model" legislation (often enacted without so much as changing a comma), including measures to scale back environmental regulations, dump on women's rights. kill collective bargaining and more. In fact, Suder has been ALEC's Wisconsin co-chair. According to, ALEC’s published bylaws made it lawmaker Suder's “duty” to ensure introduction of its one-size-fits-all-Republican legislation.

And in case you've forgotten, ALEC gets lots of its operating funds from groups organized by the notorious Koch brothers, whose businesses promote fossil fuels -- and fossilized social policies.

Indeed, the Koch front group Americans For Prosperity [as in, super-rich Americans] on Aug. 21 went out of its way to thank the departng Suder for "his service and commitment to the principles of economic freedom and limited government... . His leadership helped ensure the passage of Act 10," the law all but banning public employee unions. Economic freedom, hardly; invasive, meddlesome, authoritarian government, for sure.

America, what a country! A Republican state lawmaker quietly pledges allegiance to a group sworn to roll back programs that protect the weak, the poor, the innocent, working-class families, minorities, women and the environment, instead promoting laws that benefit corporations, wealthy individuals, polluters and the GOP itself. Then, just before one of his most crass moves becomes an embarassing, statewide scandal, the lawmaker moves on to his next cushy job, leaving the wreckage of his legislative tenure behind. Instead of facing punishment for abject corruption and cronyism, his party's governor rewards him with a key appointment to a key state agency where he'll have behind-the-scenes power to do good government even more harm.

For their part, state taxpayers will continue to contribute to public employee Suder's state pension and health plan while paying him about double what he earned as an ideological miscreant in charge of the Assembly. Like too many corporate executives and financiers, he failed upwards. We'll be years fixing all the damage he helped inflict upon the great state of Wisconsin, and upon tens of thousands of other public employees who work harder for much less pay.

Like we said: Scott Suder -- scott free.