Too good to check
If I can give one piece of advice to anyone thinking of starting a blog: call first. It takes just a few minutes to check something. Even if they refuse comment, you can always say they refused comment. Because you will look really stupid if you don’t ask.
Prolific liberal blogger, union representative, and Milwaukee County Employee Chris “capper” Liebenthal levels bold allegations of “corruption” and “cronyism” against Milwaukee County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker in a published piece at several of his blogs today, suggesting that former Deputy Chief of Staff at the county exec’s office, Tim Russell, “doubled his salary” when he recently accepted the position of Director of Housing for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Sounds like juicy stuff, doesn’t it? Juicy enough to be picked up and regurgitated as fact by several other online news outlets, including WisOpinion.com.
Here’s the problem: Liebenthal made it all up. His allegations are lies and misrepresentation, masquerading as a “bombshell” revelation.
Liebenthal admits in his published writing that his allegations are nothing more than an “assumption,” based on previously published salary data for Russell’s predecessor. And the facts prove that Liebenthal would have to go to great lengths to be more off-the-mark.
BadgerBlogger spoke to Russell, who tells us he was never contacted by Liebenthal (or anyone else) seeking details on the salary for his new county assignment, and that, since his salary is publicly available information, he would have been happy to discuss it.
Russell tells BadgerBlogger that his Director of Housing salary, $75,866.13 – a full $37,201.00 less than that of his predecessor – dealt him a raise of $2,496.13 over his previous county exec’s office salary of $73,370.00.
That’s a raise of about 3.4%.
If something is “too good to check,” check twice. I get juicy tips all the time that don’t pan out. They’re fun e-mails to read, but the stories usually fall apart with a phone call.
Bruce at Badger Blogger said the story took him less than an hour to research. I always wondered how Liebenthal, who has a supposedly full-time job at the County, had time to post on blogs as much as he does. Turns out he’s got an hour to spare.