Watchdog.org’s Scariest People of 2013 Countdown: No’s 2-4
By Dustin Hurst
By Watchdog.org Staff
Who knew there were so many bad dudes in state and local governments?
Washington, D.C., might be packed full of shady characters, but it hardly has a monopoly on these questionable personalities.
We should be thankful, we supposed, because these folks keep us employed.
Here are some of the top entries in Watchdog.org’s Scariest People of 2013 list:
4. WISCONSIN: Bruce Landgraf
Maybe Bruce Landgraf isn’t what he appears to be – a partisan prosecutor willing to do anything in order to harass his political opponents. Maybe, like another scary character this side of Christmas, Landgraf’s heartis just two sizes too small. Landgraf, an assistant district attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office head by Democrat John Chisholm, has spearheaded at least two secret investigations into political conservatives during the past three and a half years, with, legal experts say, little to show for the sweat and taxpayer expense. In the first probe, the prosecution sent a Rice Lake retailer to jail to compel his testimony – testimony the businessman could not provide without breaking state law. The same investigation locked up a Milwaukee real estate broker before quietly exonerating him several months later. Landgraf shrugged off the Rice Lake retailer’s loss of liberty. The prosecution, Landgraf said, ultimately got the conviction of another man through other means. Landgraf’s latest probe into dozens of conservative groups is based on allegations of illegal campaign coordination. The Wall Street Journal called it a “Wisconsin Political Speech Raid.” A former Federal Elections Commission member went deep into U.S. history, the administration of President John Adams, saying Landgraf’s investigation makes the Alien and Sedition Acts look mild. MITIGATING FACTOR: Perhaps, like the Grinch who learned that “Christmas does not come in a store,” Landgraf will learn that free speech isn’t reserved for one party. Then, maybe then, the prosecutor’s small heart will grow three sizes that day. (Matt Kittle)
3. WISCONSIN: John Chisholm
Say what you want about John Chisholm, but the Milwaukee County district attorney has discriminating tastes: A Democrat, Chisholm’s office seems to fancy his secret investigations into political conservatives. Probes into the left’s activities, well, not so much. As his department’s top cop, Chisholm hasn’t been in the trenches over the past three and a half years – 44 months of digging, subpoenaing, confiscating, home and office raiding, and jailing have been left to his Assistant DA Bruce Landgraf (see Scariest No. 4) – but the politically charged John Doe investigations (so called because they prohibit subpoena targets from revealing the investigation to anyone but their attorneys) have Chisholm’s name all over them. He showed up for all of the photo-ops at the handful of arrests over the course of the first meandering John Doe; many of those arrests led ultimately to exoneration or lawsuits alleging false imprisonment. Chisholm is front and center again today, his office embroiled in another John Doe, this one targeting dozens of conservative organizations in a nearly two-year-old case reportedly involving campaign-coordination allegations. Critics see it as the latest partisan quest for opposition research in the guise of a secret legal proceeding. The Wall Street Journal has billed it a “Wisconsin Political Speech Raid.” MITIGATING FACTOR: If, as his critics suspect, John Doe Two is aimed at derailing the re-election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican and the architect of public-employee union reform, the Internal Revenue Service will have time to catch up on its work elsewhere targeting conservatives.
2. VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe
Under a cloud of federal investigations, Terry McAuliffe prepares to take office as the 72nd governor of Virginia. It’s an unsettling, surreal, even scary prospect as Inauguration Day approaches. And not just for Republicans. Ripped from the headlines about McAuliffe and his troubled green-vehicle venture, GreenTech Automotive:
In response to Watchdog’s reporting, McAuliffe’s company sued us for $85 million in April. The lawsuit claims Watchdog damaged investor relations and hurt the company. Months earlier, McAuliffe & Co. had a different explanation for their business troubles, complaining that federal officials jeopardized their business by holding up approval of foreign investors. McAuliffe, who is not named in the lawsuit, has not commented on the matter. Until Associated Press Day in Richmond earlier this month, he declined to answer any of Watchdog’s questions about anything. His staff has yet to include Watchdog on its media-distribution list, though this news organization is a member of both the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association and the Virginia Press Association. Speaking of media, McAuliffe was the subject of a 30-minute documentary, “Fast Terry,” which graphically detailed some of the exploits of the controversial businessman-cum-politician. In one of his first Cabinet-level appointments after he beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe appointed Levar Stoney, an ex-GreenTech employee, secretary of the commonwealth. Stoney, a former state Democratic Party executive director, has no government experience – except briefly heading government relations at GTA. As Virginia’s chief executive, McAuliffe will be empowered to appoint 4,000 more people to boards and commissions around the state. And then there’s the money. As the legendary Clinton fundraiser confided on video, “Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to raise money for a governor. They have all kinds of business to hand out. Road contracts, construction jobs, you name it.” McAuliffe echoes the Democratic Party mantra of more school funding, more transportation projects, more broadband capacity and a slew of new “twenty-first century jobs.” Aside from Gov.-elect McAuliffe’s promise to take more federal money for Medicaid expansion, skeptical Republicans await the first-time officeholder’s plans to expand healthcare without raising taxes. MITIGATING FACTOR: If you’re a Democrat contemplating the possibility of a primary presidential run against Hillary, McAuliffe’s Clinton connections will remind many voters of fast-dealing, cash-for-chaos earlier Clinton campaigns.