By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes sees himself as a champion of the poor and downtrodden.
His record shows he’s more of a political deadbeat who availed himself of taxpayer-funded health care while his only job was running to be Democrat Gov. Tony Evers’ second-in-command.
A Republican lawmaker tells Empower Wisconsin it’s just more of the same from a hypocrite liberal with a “shady financial” past.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Barnes paid no income tax in 2018 and was on BadgerCare Plus — Wisconsin’s Medicaid program — while his only job apparently was campaigning. He didn’t make enough to have a tax liability.
Barnes, among a crowded field of Democrats running for U.S. Senate in 2022, reportedly lived off personal savings, which included cash from a family estate sale. His campaign picked up $15,000 in meals, travel and other campaign-related expenses during his run for lieutenant governor.
His campaign would have us believe that the former Milwaukee lawmaker lived off “ramen noodles or a peanut butter sandwich” while seeking higher office.
“Mandela has always said he is lucky to have parents who taught him good values, including living in his means,” Barnes campaign manager Kory Kozloski told the newspaper.
He had the good fortune of getting a bundle of cash from a family estate sale. Of course, he could have used some of that money to buy into a health care plan on the individual market while he spent the year campaigning. Instead, the Journal Sentinel reported, Barnes sunk his cash into two condos — one in Milwaukee for $107,000 in 2017 and the other in Madison for $122,000 about a month after he began his tenure as lieutenant governor. He paid cash for the Madison property and dropped $30,000 on a down payment for the Milwaukee condo.
His Statement of Economic Interest shows Barnes’ owes more than $50,000 to Educator’s Credit Union in Milwaukee.
State Sen. Duey Stroebel said the fact that the lieutenant governor drew from taxpayer-funded healthcare on the campaign trail between his purchase of two condos using his “life savings” does not come as a surprise in the land of liberal hypocrites.
“It is one more item in the long history of Mandela Barnes’ shady financial behavior and blatant hypocrisy,” the Saukville Republican told Empower Wisconsin.
Barnes has a history of taking advantage of the system — and taxpayers. While he was raking in $80,000 a year as Lieutenant governor and buying another condo property, he failed to pay a fine for several outstanding parking tickets. The scofflaw then couldn’t renew his vehicle registration. He reportedly sold the car and then had taxpayers pick up the tab to have the State Patrol’s Dignitary Protection Unit chauffeur him around the state and beyond.
“In just the first two months of 2019, the state patrol has racked up nearly 898 hours shuffling Barnes back and forth to official, personal and political events at a cost to the taxpayers of $36,622,” Wispolitics reported. “This puts the state on pace to spend nearly $220,000 this year alone on Barnes’ detail. That’s more than 50x what was spent in 2018 to cover Kleefisch, who received just 95.5 hours of coverage throughout the entire year at a cost of $4,370. Unlike Kleefisch, Lt. Governor Barnes is using state patrol to drive him to personal events such as church and going ice fishing.”
Barnes isn’t the only Dem U.S. Senate candidate slinking out of tax liability. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Milwaukee Bucks executive-on-leave Alex Lasry worked the system for some healthy tax breaks, even as the 1 percenters lash out against “greedy corporate interests.”
“We have enough champagne socialists in Washington D.C. who seek to make careers out of imposing higher costs on others while finding ways to evade those same costs and enrich themselves,” Stroebel said. “This ‘rules-for-thee-not-for-me’ mentality seems to be par for the course for the so-called progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”