By M.D, Kittle
MADISON — It’s no secret state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski has her sights set on higher office. But the Democrat may be treading some troubled campaign finance waters in sending out anti-Republican fundraising appeals — to a Republican state senator on his legislative email addresses.
It’s more than just a problem of a failure to know one’s audience.
Team Sarah, with the banner “Sarah Godlewski for State Treasurer,” sent the campaign solicitation Monday afternoon to state Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), according to the email obtained by Empower Wisconsin through an open records request.
The email, sent to Jacque’s official legislative email at 4:01 p.m. talks about the importance of defeating U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) in 2022 (should the incumbent decide to seek re-election.)
National Republicans are already plotting to take back control of the Senate, and they know their path runs straight through Wisconsin. Republicans understand they need Ron Johnson’s seat to win the Senate Majority.
We need to defeat Republicans in Wisconsin, Andre — but not just at the federal level.
“Sarah is working hard to make sure Democrats in Wisconsin win up and down the ticket in 2022. From sending more Democrats to Madison to taking down Ron Johnson, we need to start building an infrastructure now to elect Wisconsin Democrats,” the solicitation continues.
Interesting. “Taking down Ron Johnson” would help the liberal political climber, who has said publicly she’s thinking about a run for U.S. Senate.
Team Sarah asks Jacque to chip in $5 before midnight to “help us make the early investments” to elect Democrats across the state. Of course, the Republican state senator is encouraged to contribute more. Much more.
“I was rather astonished to see a fundraising email calling for the defeat of Republicans staring at me when I checked my legislative inbox,” Jacque said. “I am extremely puzzled how my email address could have possibly found its way on one of Sarah Godlewski’s fundraising lists, and I’m concerned that this might not be an isolated occurrence and she could be farming other official lists prospecting for donors.”
State law would seem to frown on constitutional officers seeking campaign cash from lawmakers during government business hours.
“No person may solicit or receive from any state officer or employee or from any officer or employee of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority any contribution during established hours of employment or while the officer or employee is engaged in his or her official duties,” the statutes on political solicitation state.
Godlewski could not be reached for comment Tuesday. It’s not clear whether she sent out the solicitation while at her state do-nothing day job. That would be a clear violation of state statute. But the solicitation was sent to a state lawmaker at 4:01 p.m., certainly within the hours of the senator’s official duties. Here is where things get a little murkier.
Daniel Carlton, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said he could not address whether “past conduct” was allowed under state law. That, he said, is the domain of Ethics commissioners, not staff. He pointed Empower Wisconsin to state ethics law.
“In this case, the Commission has not issued any opinions on that statute. Like I said, I just can’t address the specific situation you asked about,” Carlton wrote in an email.
Gov. Tony Evers got into some trouble more than a decade ago when he was a candidate for superintendent for the state Department of Public Instruction. Evers ended up paying a $250 fine after he was caught sending out emails to an education official asking him to organize a fundraiser for him. The emails were sent to the work account of Jeff Dickert, administrator of the Cooperative Educational Service Agency in Green Bay, the Associated Press reported at the time.
It seems the state treasurer really wanted Senator Jacque to know that she’s “fighting for” him, “not the top 1%.” That’s why she’s “not accepting a dime of corporate PAC money.”
But the Democrat and her campaign are accepting money from just about everyone else, including lawmakers from the party she has railed against — and they don’t particularly care where they have to send their solicitations to.