Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Kathleen Vinehout lying?

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout blogged at Uppity Wisconsin that she was told she could, "ask for only one change to the budget deal." This made her unhappy enough to complain publicly,

In the Capitol, the culture is one of a few making the decisions and the many having their arms twisted to go along with the deal.

The culture of the Capitol has to change. Our job as elected officials is to take what’s happening in our districts to Madison. Once in Madison, we all have to be involved in making decisions. If we agree to deals we are not party to making, we not only give up our own power, we give up the power of the voters in our district.

In response to a blog post by me referencing Vinehout's complaint, State Senator Russ Decker's aide Carrie Lynch denied Vinehout was told she could only make one change to the budget. Under further questioning, Decker's aide clarified to say neither Decker nor (Joint Finance co-chair) Senator Mark Miller told Vinehout that she could only make one change to the budget.

Wanting official confirmation that this is Senator Decker's position, I contacted his office directly and received the following response from Carrie Lynch on behalf of Senator Decker:

Hello. Senator Decker did not tell Senator Vinehout, nor any other senator, that they may submit only one change to the budget. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.


Carrie Lynch
Office of Senator Russ Decker

I have sent an inquiry to Senator Vinehout but have not yet received a reply. However, Vinehout has repeated her assertion in an interview with the Leader-Telegram.

Vinehout said not only can't she get everything she wants, but she was told last week she could ask for only one change to the budget proposal.

"There's a lot more than one thing that needs to be changed before I can vote yes," she said. "I need to be able to honestly go back to my people and say, given that we have very difficult times, this is the best we can do. I'm not there now. Absolutely not."

Democrats only hold a two-seat majority in the state senate. Two defections on the budget vote will require Democrats to go searching for Republican votes. One has to question the wisdom of the Democratic leadership in so publicly challenging a key vote's honesty.

Update! Apparently I missed State Senator Vinehout's phone call. My apology to the senator and I'll attempt to get an update for my readers on Thursday.

Update 2! 6/11 Correction: the call was from Carrie Lynch of Senator Decker's office. Still no contact from Senator Vinehout in response to my inquiry.