By Aaron M. Rodriguez
On Friday, February 27th, Mark Belling issued a news report that DPI candidate Tony Evers used state resources to promote a March fundraising event for his campaign. According to Belling, Evers prompted Jeff Dickert to use a government email account to advertise the Green Bay event. At the time, however, there was no hard evidence that Evers was actually involved. So on March 1st, I published an article entertaining the question of whether Tony Evers could be involved in the scandal and what sort of impact it would have on his campaign. As it were, just entertaining the idea inspired leftist blogger Jay Bullock to accuse me of “spreading outright lies” about Evers. Below is an excerpt from his blog:
“In sum, rather than talk about the issues of the campaign (unlike some of us) or ponder why the "liberal" candidates outpolled the "conservative" candidates in the February primary almost 3-2, Fernandez supporters would rather waste time spreading outright lies about Evers. Way to go, guys!”
On Tuesday, March 23, Mark Belling issued another news release on Evers’ email controversy. He stated that on January 12th, DPI candidate Tony Evers used his government email account to elicit Jeff Dickert to host a Green Bay funding raising event. Tony Evers said this in his email to Jeff Dickert:
I will be having several visits to the Green Bay area, some before the primary, any chance you can help to organize a fundraiser? Thanks Tony.
On January 13th, the day after Evers’ email, Dickert replied agreeing to organize the fundraiser. In a follow up email, Evers said:
Jeff, I will call about this, but I will need your help getting the word out. This is our one chance to do an event in Green Bay. I know the date is soon, but it can’t be helped. Whatever you can do to get the word out will be appreciated. Hopefully CESA 7 employees and CESA area districts will be well represented. I will call to follow up, but wanted to get this to you ASAP. Tony.
Now, it's clear that Tony Evers used his office to acquire email addresses not accessible to people like Rose Fernandez. He specifically asked Dickert to get the word out to government employees and government administrators to ensure that the fundraiser was fully attended. This is no longer speculation or rumor, but rather a hard fact.
In early March, Jay Bullock published an article on WisOpinion stating that he spoke with a staffer from the Evers’ campaign:
"Dickert is not a ‘player’ in the campaign, real or not, just one of Evers' many supporters. And as an Evers campaign staffer told me, the campaign wouldn't recognize Dickert if they saw him."
The implication of the above quote is that Belling’s accusation was absurdly false. Either Bullock is making up the fact he had a conversation an Evers’ staffer, or the staffer lied to Bullock about not knowing Dickert. In either case, someone is lying.
As for Bullock’s candidate of choice, Evers not only abused his public office, broke the law, and asked others to do so was well, but he was dishonest about the entire chain of events. After Belling broke the story, Evers had an opportunity to come clean. He knew about Belling’s radio broadcast because his campaign had to field several inquiries as a result of it. He also knew that Belling had made an open records request to view the emails in question. And since it was only a matter of time before the truth surfaced, why didn’t the campaign come clean? When bloggers like Jay Bullock called the campaign office looking for the truth, why did they lie to him, hanging him out to dry.
Right now, Mr. Bullock looks even more foolish than he usually does. He is on public record stating that the Evers’ campaign was truthful with their denials, while publicly accusing me of lying and "dancing up the line of libel." Where is my apology, Jay?
With two weeks left in the campaign, this is a serious setback for Evers. In an election where the vote tally was close in the primaries, a controversy like this is enough to put Fernandez over the top, and rightfully so. The left has tried to drag Fernandez through the mud with false accusations about her alleged ties with K12 Inc., meanwhile their own candidate is breaking the law while actively exploiting government resources for his political ambitions.
The left will characterize this as an incidental email mishap - a technical mishap that anyone can make. However, this isn't just an issue of abusing government privilege, but rather a problem of character. Tony Evers emailed Jeff Dickert and asked him to host a fundraiser for him on short notice. As the news originally broke on the Belling Show, Dickert took the heat for violating the law while Evers was nowhere to be found. That's some character. This is not the change Wisconsin wants. In the next few weeks, we will see what sort of damage this story causes and whether the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Capital Times, and the Racine Journal Times will publish the results.