Outrage over a former politician’s plea deal. That reaction from Mike McCabe with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, on news that charges of felony misconduct in public office against former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen have been dropped. “This just would never happen for 99.9% of the criminal dependents in our legal system,” McCabe said in an interview at his Madison office on Monday. “Nobody has the resources to game the legal system for eight years in order to turn a 15 month prison sentence into a $5,000 fine.”
Jensen, who was charged in 2002 and convicted in 2006, reached the plea agreement Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel. “What the Waukesha County D.A. has done has sent a message to the whole state that there are two systems of justice,” said McCabe. “There is one for the politically well connected and the well to do, and there’s one for everybody else.”
Jensen had received a fifteen month sentence for his role in what became known as the Capitol caucus scandal, but had remained free while the case was appealed. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this year that Jensen’s new trial could be held in his home county, Waukesha County. “I think one of the messages this all sent to politicians is ‘well you know, you can continue to cut corners, you can continue to engage in business as usual, because nothing’s really going to you. You’re not going to be held accountable for this.’ So I think the legal system has sent a really unfortunate message to the political class,” said McCabe.