November 27, 2015

Rodgers upset with fan during pregame tribute (Audio)

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Every NFL Stadium, including Lambeau Field, paid tribute to those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks in France last week with a moment of silence before Sunday’s games.

But Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happy when a fan shouted out a slur against Muslims during the moment of silence in Green Bay.

Rodgers called out the fan during his post game press conference.

The Packers quarterback wouldn’t elaborate on what he heard the fan say but he clearly wasn’t happy about it.

AUDIO: Rodgers on pregame tribute :21

Final votes loom on GAB, campaign finance reforms


File photo: WRN

The state Assembly is set to vote today on bills overhauling the Government Accountability Board and campaign finance laws, with passage in both chambers expected to send both bills to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

One of the bills would eliminate the current GAB, which oversees elections in the state, replacing it with two six-member partisan commissions that would oversee ethics and elections issues separately. The campaign finance changes include doubling contribution limits to candidates, clarifying limits on corporate contributions to political parties and committees, and codifying in state law the ability for candidates and third-party issue advocacy groups to coordinate their efforts.

The chamber approved both measure in October, but changes made in the state Senate earlier this month will require agreement from the Assembly.

Republicans say both bills are about making needed updates to campaign finance and elections oversight…a claim disputed by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Matt Rothschild. He argues upping contribution limits and reducing reporting requirements will simply allow large donors to have more influence over elections. “This new campaign finance bill will let corruption and criminality breed like maggots in the Capitol. It will be something the like of which we’ve never seen.”

Rothschild says that’s because money can be funneled to third-party groups that are not required to disclose their supporters, but will be able to coordinate with candidates. “We will know less and less about who is influencing these elections…we’re going to be reduced to mere spectators, and blindfolded spectators at that,” he warns.

The Assembly is scheduled to begin debating the legislation later this afternoon.

Republican presidential candidates head to Milwaukee

Many of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the presidential race will be in Milwaukee later tonight, for the latest debate in the 2016 campaign season.

The debate, being aired by Fox Business Network, will take place at the Milwaukee Theater starting at 8 p.m. Just eight candidates will be on stage for the two hour debate, which was only open to those polling above 2.5 percent. The four candidate undercard debate will take place at 7 p.m.

The Republican field continues to see Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading in the polls, which Marquette University Law School poll director Charles Franklin expects to have an impact on how the candidates try to present themselves. “We’ve seen Trump and Carson dominate in the polls, but a little bit of movement from (Marco) Rubio and Ted Cruz, and so it will be interesting to see whether the two of them try to stand out a little be more,” Franklin said.

Governor Scott Walker, who was a candidate before dropping out of the race earlier this fall, does plan to be in the audience for the debate. He spent Monday in Waukesha, where he appeared at a charter school with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who will be on stage tonight.

With the debate taking place in Milwaukee, Franklin said it’s a sign the Republican Party views the state as a potential battleground next November. He noted the Democratic Party apparently thinks so as well, with its slate of candidates also scheduled to meet in a debate that will take place this February in Wisconsin.

Mike Kemmeter at affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.

Abrahamson drops lawsuit over removal as chief justice

Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Justice Shirley Abrahamson

The former chief justice of Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court has decided to drop a lawsuit challenging a decision to remove her from the position.

Justice Shirley Abrahamson filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year, after a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in April changed the process for selecting the chief justice.  She held the position at the time based on seniority, but was voted out by the court’s conservative majority under the new process created by the amendment in which members of the court select their own leadership.

Abrahamson argued the change violated her federal civil rights by changing the duties of her office while she was in the midst of her current term. She claimed the amendment set no timeline for making the change, and that she should be allowed to continue serving as chief justice until her term ends in 2019.

A federal district court dismissed the case in July and Abrahamson appealed, but said in a statement released Monday that she’s now dropping the case.  “I continue to believe we have a strong case,” Abrahamson said, but added that she has concerns about the time involved in continuing to fight the change. “The question here is remedy. A ruling in my favor…may be a hollow victory. Briefs, arguments, a written judicial decision and further federal review could take a very long time. By that time my 10-year term will be close to ending.”

Abrahamson, one of two liberal-leaning justices on the court, vowed to continue her work to ensure access to the state’s court system and to be a fair and impartial justice. “Each justice is only one voice of seven, and I will continue to be one. But it will not be a timid voice.”

Walker seeks meeting with Kraft Heinz officials (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

Even though Oscar Mayer parent company Kraft Heinz has said a decision to close its Madison plant is a done deal, Governor Scott Walker is not giving up hope that new life can be breathed into the facility.

Kraft Heinz informed the state this week that its Madison plant and six others in North America will shut down over the next two years. During a stop in Green Bay Friday, Walker said the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation reached out to the company right away after the announcement, and was given the impression that the decision was based on an overall strategy by the company. Walker said it appears to be final, but “I’m not willing to accept that.”

The governor indicated he wants to speak directly with company officials about what the state can do to possibly change their mind, or to keep the facility operating. “I’ve reached out and asked for a meeting with leadership at Kraft Heinz to see if there’s anything else that we can do,” Walker told reporters.

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker discusses future of Madison Oscar Mayer plant (1:37)

A spokesman with Kraft Heinz on Friday said they have been in contact with the governor, and will work with the state to find a buyer for the Madison plant that could keep it open. Michael Mullin also said that process is just beginning though, and company “will keep our employees informed as it progresses.”

Walker also responded to criticism from Democrats, who have questioned why the state was unaware that Oscar Mayer was considering leaving the state. The governor redirected the question to speak about Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, who met with Kraft Heinz officials earlier this year. “If Mayor Soglin was concerned about the possibility of losing jobs at Oscar Mayer after the August meeting, why did he not contact the state for help?” Walker asked in a letter he sent to Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) on Friday.

Soglin was unavailable to respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The Madison Oscar Mayer plant employs over a thousand people. If the state is unable to keep those jobs in place, Walker said the state Department of Workforce Development will be ready to help those affected by the closing to find other good-paying work in the area.

Jeff Flynt at WTAQ contributed to this report.