Cheesehead cronyism

In this country, we love to say that politicians with whom we disagree are corrupt, controlled by special interests, inept, etc … Though usually we have little else to go on aside from our own disdain. Here, however, is a pretty stark example of corporate cronyism in the works ….

By now we’ve all heard about the protests in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip most public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. Hell, a handful of the state senators were even hiding out here in Rockford. But removing public employee protections without any consent is only one part of the Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill.”

Equally as troubling is the proviso allowing the governor to sell off state-owned utilities to whomsoever he pleases without needing to even glance at another bid. Not that this should be any surprise; it’s the bog-standard conservative line of the last few decades: privatize. Privatize. PRIVATIZE! What is troubling, however, is the role of Charles and David Koch and their PAC, Americans for Prosperity, in helping elect and advise Walker and a sympathetic Republican-controlled legislature in the first place.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico’s Ben Smith all report that the Kochs do not have any financial interest in the outcome of the bill, and they point to Gov. Walker’s previously stated desire to break up the unions as proof that this is a state matter. But that still leaves the focus on the collective bargaining parts of Walker’s bill, and doesn’t address the tangible interests Koch Industries has in Wisconsin’s energy sector (nod to for the link).

Finally, Susie Madrak over at Crooks & Liars found this little gem of a job advertisement:

Energy client is looking for experienced Plant Managers for multiple power plants located in Wisconsin. You need 15+ years of operations & maintenance experience in a power plant environment. You should have at least 5 years of experience managing operations & maintenance teams in an operational power plant. The ideal candidate has experience in a coal fired power plant. Salary is commensurate with experience.

Why would a company describe itself merely as an “energy client” in a job advertisement if it was serious about attracting top talent? A prestigious name alone is usually enough to flood an HR department with applications. Now I do happen to believe in coincidences, and I cannot say for certain that something sinister is going on here, but these events are lining up just a little too perfectly for me not to believe that. The saddest part is, if it turns out that the Koch brothers did engineer a corporate takeover of Wisconsin’s energy sector, it will have been done in public view and perfectly legal.



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