Friday, October 28th, 2016

So conflicted


For those of you who didn’t spend the fifty cents, front page headline of the Waukesha Freeman:

Candidates spar over pay hike vote
Lufter accuses Kramer of impropriety for vote on campaign treasurer, girlfriend

WAUKESHA – A candidate for 97th Assembly District has criticized an opponent for voting in March as a county supervisor in favor of a pay hike for his campaign treasurer, the county treasurer who also is his longtime girlfriend.

Assembly candidate Chris Lufter accused Waukesha County Supervisor Bill Kramer of “impropriety” for voting May 23 to increase salaries of constitutional officers, including that of his campaign treasurer and girlfriend, according to a Lufter campaign statement released Tuesday.

Kramer acknowledged county Treasurer Pamela Reeves has been his girlfriend for six years. But he cited the county’s ethical code and how girlfriends and boyfriends are not defined as “family” when considering whether voting on an issue would be a conflict of interest.

He also said he was voting on salary hikes for positions and not individuals. He referred to Lufter’s statements as a “personal attack.”

“There’s no conflict of interest because the salary is set for the position – not the name,” Kramer said. “It deeply troubles me that a candidate for public office would show such a lack of understanding.”

Lufter said her “main issue” is that Kramer did not abstain from voting despite Reeves being his campaign treasurer. Reeves said she has been Kramer’s campaign treasurer for “four or five years.”

“She was his campaign treasurer for the county board seat and afterwards,” Lufter said. “This is exactly the kind of politics that I don’t think we need to have anymore.”

It was also discussed this morning by Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM. County Supervisor Bill Kramer called in and angrily denounced the first caller, the lovely Doreen from Waukesha, as being “the wife of a blogger who is supporting Chris Lufter.” He also dismissed his campaign treasurer/girlfriend as “just a name on a sign” for his County Supervisor race.

Funny how when County Supervisor Kramer is voting on issues of importance to the community, his girlfriend/campaign treasurer is just a name on a sign. When one of the voters in his district calls in, he attacks her personally for daring to speak up.

What a jerk.

(Other people calling in from Waukesha County were Alicia Silva from the Lufter Campaign and County Supervisor Ken Herro, a Kramer supporter.)

I did want to address one point a Kramer supporter tried to make in his defense. They’re claiming that if Kramer shouldn’t have voted on his campaign treasurer’s pay raise, he shouldn’t vote for his own pay raise.

The problem with that theory is that when a member of legislative body votes his/her own pay raise, the conflict of interest is both transparent and (almost) unavoidable. That is why they are almost always controversial, and the elected official is held directly accountable.

But when they vote on another government official’s pay raise, then the conflict of interests are not readily apparent, and are certainly not unavoidable. Kramer had a basic obligation to abstain regardless of the actual rules. Rules cannot cover every contingency and we trust our elected officials to use a sound value system to make decisions accordingly. He failed.

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