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Just Sayin'

Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.

A Record That Speaks For Itself

Germantown, Political, Wisconsin

On November 6, we will elect a President and a US Senator. We will also fill down-ballot offices such as our Representative for State Assembly. Germantown is in Assembly District 24, which includes all of Germantown, Brown Deer, River Hills, and parts of Glendale, Mequon, and Menomonee Falls. Running in our district are Dan Knodl and Shan Haqqi. For our representative in Madison, the good citizens of our district deserve a person whose character and ethics are beyond reproach. I was recently appalled when I looked into the background of one of the candidates for that office.

On July 18, 1991, Dan Knodl was arrested by the Washington County Sheriff's Department for violating Wisconsin Statute 125.68(2), serving alcohol without a licensee present. This criminal case, Washington County vs. Daniel L. Knodl, was tried in August 1991. The case resulted in a conviction on one misdemeanor count.

During the 2008 primary election for State Assembly, Knodl's campaign literature listed several people as supporters who did not actually support him, a violation of Wisconsin Statute 14.947.01. One of the misrepresented non-supporters backed a different Republican for the office, while a second one was long dead. In the criminal case, State of Wisconsin vs. Daniel L. Knodl, Knodl was charged with one count of making false statements in campaign literature. An agreement was reached in January 2009. Knodl was convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, due to a no contest plea.

On September 8, 2009, Knodl was found guilty of violation of Wisconsin Statute 346.57(5) in the Washington County Circuit Court. He was speeding 15 mph over the posted 35 limit, resulting in a loss of 4 points. A minor incident, but part of a pattern of seeming disregard for the law.

Rep. Knodl is an active member of the American Legislative Council, also known as ALEC. This organization brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators from around the country. ALEC writes model legislation, which are laws favoring its corporate sponsors. The legislative members then push the model bills through statehouses across the country. ALEC holds conferences several times a year in luxury hotels.

Knodl is one of the targets of a March 2012 ethics complaint  submitted to the Government Accountability Board by the Center for Media and Democracy. This complaint alleges that a number of state legislators violated Wisconsin's strict lobbying laws by accepting money from ALEC for travel expenses to attend their conferences. The complaint also alleges that the lawmakers violated state law by accepting free drinks, food, and other tangibles while attending the ALEC meetings. On his 2010 Statement of Economic Interests, Knodl acknowledges receiving $2,000 dollars from ALEC, with the circumstances of receipt listed as “conference”.

The GAB has yet to issue a ruling on this complaint. Our state has a history of clean government and policies. Wisconsin law prohibiting gifts from lobbyists are some of the strongest in the country. Even if the GAB finds no legal issue with Knodl accepting money from a lobbying organization, our elected officials ought to know better than to allow any question of impropriety in their dealings with lobbyists.

In order to investigate his relationship with ALEC, Rep. Knodl was served with an Open Records Request by the Center for Media and Democracy and the group, Common Cause. The two groups have reason to believe that the Assemblyman and four others were not fully compliant with the records request. According to the State Supreme Court, personal e-mails containing government business are subject to the Open Records Law. When asked, none of the five lawmakers would state whether the materials supplied under the request also contained all of their ALEC-related personal e-mails.

On October 1, 2012, Knodl and the four others were sued in Dane County Circuit Court in an attempt to force release of any personal e-mails related to ALEC. Stories about this lawsuit were printed in the Journal-Sentinel, Salon, and other media, negatively reflecting on Germantown and our district. Wisconsin prides itself in open and transparent government. One must question the judgment of the five lawmakers if they did not fully cooperate with a request under the Open Records Law.

On November 6, we will go to the polls to select our Representative to the State Assembly for the next two years. The people of the 24th Assembly district are entitled to a Representative of high moral and ethical character. We certainly want our state legislators to have a knowledge of our legal system. However, it appears that Mr. Knodl's familiarity with the law is a little too intimate.

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