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Mandela Barnes: Political deadbeat for Senate

Empower Wisconsin  | June 28, 2022

MADISON — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is calling on voters to stop sending millionaires to the Senate. Presumably the Lesser Mandela — as conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna has rightly dubbed him — believes voters should instead send a political freeloader who took taxpayer-funded state benefits while he campaigned for office.

Barnes is one of several far left candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate. The “winner” will go up against incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in November’s mid-terms.

While Barnes’ class warfare campaign message has been mostly aimed at millionaire Johnson, the shrapnel is also meant for the well-heeled Dems he’s running against: Milwaukee Bucks executive/hedge fund brat Alex Lasry and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s millionaire version of Leslie Knope.

“I’m not like most senators, or any of the other millionaires running for Senate. My mom was a teacher; my dad worked third shift,” Barnes was quoted as saying in a piece by liberal publication The Nation headlined, “Progressives Call on Voters to Stop Sending Millionaires to the Senate.”

The lieutenant governor, who has spent most of his do-nothing term not remembering what he’s done in office and campaigning for higher office, insists he’s the Democrats’ best hope “in a midterm election year characterized by economic volatility and high inflation, according to the publication.

But Barnes is far from an “everyman.”

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.

He 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.

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 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.

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.”

So Barnes’ campaign slogan apparently is: Forget the millionaires. Send a deadbeat politician to the U.S. Senate.

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