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Watchdog Group Says Lobbyists To U. Wisconsin Didn't Report

This story was written by Hannah McClung, The Daily Cardinal

The watchdog group One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint Tuesday with the Government Accountability Board saying Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce failed to report lobbying activity involving the University of Wisconsin budget.

WMC, a pro-business interest group, commented on its lobbying activities in response to former UW-Madison Chancellor John Wileys article in Madison Magazine, in which he said WMC is not acting in the best interests of the University of Wisconsin.

In a statement released Aug. 20, WMC said they played a part in the final passage of the entire Wisconsin state budget.

But according to One Wisonsin Now, that statement was revised from one released earlier the same day that read, WMC actively lobbied for final passage of the UW budget.

This public reversal on WMCs previous claim is even more reason why a full investigation by the GAB is warranted, Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, said.

WMC is confident the complaint will be dismissed by the accounatibility board because the complaints are without merit, said Jim Pugh, director of public relations for WMC.

[This complaint] is part of an ongoing harassment campaign by One Wisconsin Now, Pugh said.

According to Pugh, WMC supported the final passage of the entire state budget, which included massive funding increases for the University of Wisconsin, but did not lobby for the UW budget itself.

Under Wisconsin law, if a group lobbies for a particular part of the budget, it must report that activity.

Ross, of One Wisconsin Now, saidWMC is violating this law by failing to disclose lobbying information.

WMC, big business corporate mouthpiece, is not above the law, and the law says that if you lobby, you have to report that activity, Ross said.

WMC was not listed on a lobbying activity report as a group that lobbied for the UW System, said UW System spokesperson David Giroux.

Regardless of what did or did not happen in the past, the businesses in our state have a vested interest in a healthy UW System, he said.

Giroux saidthe UW System would be open to collaborating with WMC in the future.

Mike McCabe, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said he thinks WMC has some explaining to do.

Either they havent been honest in their lobbying disclosure or they werent honest in making claims about their activity in public statements, McCabe said. Obviously theyve been caught in some untruthfulness of one kind or another.

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