Just yesterday, Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was issuing threats that Democratic lawmakers’ votes would not be counted because they were in contempt. He wrote in an email that they could attend sessions but their votes would not be counted. Just a few hours later, Fitzgerald is walking back his threats and now says that he “can rescind finding the Democrats in contempt.” I can only guess that he’s been informed that any contempt that existed on the part of the Democrats ceased to exist when they showed up for assemblies. At any rate, this is what we call a hasty retreat from a pathetic attempt at bullying.
Channel 3000 reports:
Wisconsin’s Democratic state senators will have votes they cast in committee counted and other penalties imposed against them will be rescinded after they returned to the state on Saturday.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Tuesday that assurances that he received from Democrats that they will participate in future Senate sessions and votes allowed him to rescind finding the Democrats in contempt.
Fitzgerald on Monday said that Democrats would still not be allowed to have their committee votes counted since contempt votes in the Senate had not been rescinded.
But he said Tuesday their votes will be counted, no fines will be imposed and other smaller steps taken to incite them to return will also be dropped.
Just last night, I reported on Fitzgerald’s letter, in which he claimed that he was rescinding Democratic lawmakers’ voting rights. He wrote the letter yesterday, so this is a rather quick turnaround. Just as a refresher, let’s see where he stood at 3:52 PM Wisconsin time yesterday:
With the return of the Senate Democrats this weekend, questions have arisen regarding Democrat members’ participation in Senate standing committee public hearings and executive sessions.
Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate. Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats’ votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal. They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded.
No matter what he says today, last night Fitzgerald thought he had the right to rescind Democrats’ voting privileges after they returned to session Saturday evening. This is evident in the wording of his letter; he spoke of a the present, “they are free to attend hearings….” followed by the future tense “but their votes WILL not be counted.” What happened, or rather, who schooled Fitzgerald on the law between the time he sent that letter and early this afternoon?
I’m guessing Governor Walker and the Fitzgerald trio of thugs got carried away with their power grab and were shocked to find out that even with all of the ways they dominate the different bodies of government right now in Wisconsin, there are still some rules they ought to avoid violating.
It’s mildly amusing to note that Fitzgerald is attempting to spin his hasty retreat as something he found possible after being assured by Democrats that they would be attending sessions as I was unaware that Wisconsin Republicans worked on the honor system, and just yesterday in his letter, he made it clear that they “could” attend but would not be counted, which implies that Democrats would be there. Now he’s claiming that he simply needed assurance that they would be there. I wonder if anyone is asking Fitzgerald if he thought Republicans barring Democratic lawmakers entry to the Capitol during the vote might have impacted Democrats ability to show up. Did Fitzgerald issue Democrats any assurances that they would enjoy access to the Capitol other than through a window?
Apparently, even Wisconsin Republicans feel compelled to follow some laws, even if they have to run away with their tails caught between their legs to do it. Maybe their retreat has something to do with the protests catching like wildfire even to the very rural areas of the state, along with the quickly advancing recall petitions.