Charlie Sykes loves the word "Thug." He loves it when cops use it -- out of the mistaken belief that rightwing cop Glenn Frankovis was busted for using it (as opposed to the real reason, undercutting Nanette Hegarty). He likes to use it himself. Why? Because he feels it's a fine way to taunt the left. Everytime he uses it, Charlie is saying "The PC police is afraid to use the word thug because they think it's racist code -- even if the person you're calling a thug is a thug! How can you trust these wimps with anything?"
Because in Charlie's universe the word "thug" is a race-blind term, the Brawler was surprised Charlie didn't use it to describe one of his guests last week, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce governmental affairs director Steve Baas. Baas was on the show to blast the sick day referendum and suggest that the MMAC was going to sue to overturn the mandate .
But Baas wasn't always a business lobbyist. Before joining the MMAC in 2005, Baas was an influential communications director under Scott Jensen and John Gard. He also,as some of you may remember, had trouble running afoul of the law.
For instance, in April 2001 hepleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after grabbing a TV cameraman.
A state legislative aide accused of harassing a news cameraman at the capitol building in Madison, Wis., pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on April 25.
Steve Baas, communications director for Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, was referred to a first offenders program for his actions inside the state Capitol on Jan. 30. Steve Cady, a cameraman for WBAY-TV in Green Bay, claimed Baas collared him by the necktie while he and a reporter attempted to interview another Jensen aide.
Cady claimed Baas spun him around by his necktie and let go of him only when Cady shouted that he captured the incident on videotape. Baas said he tried to move Cady from blocking the hallway and claimed Cady tried to hit him during the confrontation. After the incident, Cady said the videotape exonerated him from Baas' claims.
In accepting a plea agreement, the misdemeanor charge will be expunged from Baas' record after he completes the first offenders program. Baas will not have to serve jail time or pay a fine.
Although she did not file a complaint, reporter Natalie Arnold said in an interview with The Green Bay News-Chronicle that other Jensen staff members "manhandled" her by shoving her against the wall in an attempt to prevent the interview.
The scuffle occurred when Cady and Arnold went to the Capitol to question R. J. Pirlot, another aide to Speaker Jensen, about his involvement in a campaign against state Rep. Lee Meyerhofer (D-Kaukauna). WBAY News has been investigating allegations that Pirlot anonymously provided court transcripts to an independent campaign group. The group has been accused of producing a campaign radio spot that portrayed Meyerhofer as a "wife-beater." (City of Madison v. Baas)
As an encore, he copped an immunity deal in connection to the caucus scandal --and then brazenly lied on the stand, claiming Scott Jensen had no idea that his staff was doing campaign work! Despite his own prior testimony to the contrary!
In his testimony today Baas admitted to using the Assembly Republican Caucus staff to prepare some campaign matters for Jensen, and admitted he helped prepare a Speaker's Club newsletter for Jensen and letters seeking campaign donations. On direct examination by Meyer, Baas said Jensen was largely unaware of what the staff did along those lines. "I did it of my own volition," he said of some of his work which could be labeled as campaign work.
But in his cross examination of Baas, Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte produced a transcript of a secret John Doe session in February of 2002 in which Baas testified and agreed under questioning that he had been present in meetings with Jensen in which the then-Speaker asked questions about various Republican campaigns and how much money candidates had available.
"I don't recall that," Baas said today of the meetings, but upon seeing the transcript of his John Doe testimony he added, "I don't question the veracity of the transcript."
Similarly, Korte used a John Doe transcript to show Baas testified about preparing fundraising letters for Jensen on state time, using a state computer. "I will not challenge the veracity of the transcript," he repeated. "They accurately reflect my recollection at that time."
You know, a lot of employers that care about their reputation and image wouldn't take on a guy with such a dubious background and a track record of dishonsty. So hat's off to the MMAC for believing in
second third chances. The fact his wife worked for MMAC, the Brawler is sure, had nothing to do with it!
Milwaukee Magazine in 2006 had an interesting profile of the MMAC and president Tim Sheehy, suggesting that despite the organization's Republican leanings (Sheehy having been a Sensenbrenner staffer), it managed to avoid being wildly partisan. Shoot, Marc Marotta even said so! As Dems gain ascendancy in Wisconsin and nationally, it seems the MMAC may be going in the opposite direction. One wonders if that's a shrewd long-term strategy.
As the Brawler's made clear, he's deeply skeptical of the claim that a sick day mandate would cause the sky to fall. But it wouldn't hurt the MMAC if their front guy on the issue possessed a modicum of honesty.