In October of 2002, Scooter Jensen was charged with misconduct in office for running political campaigns using taxpayer resources. A bunch of others, both Republicans like Jensen and Democrats like Chuck Chvala, were charged around the same time during the so-called “caucus scandal”. Chvala and the others all reached plea deals and served their sentences.
Jensen was the only one of the bunch who actually went to trial. He was convicted of three felonies and a misdemeanor in 2006, but the felony convictions were overturned by the appeals court. It was decided that Jensen should be tried on those counts again.
Three years ago, Republican Attorney General J. B. VanHollen suggested that Jensen should “plead it out”, but that didn’t happen and the case continued. The original trial was here in Dane County, but the politicians rewrote the law in 2007 to say that politicians charged with ethics violations would be tried in their home counties – in Jensen’s case, Waukesha County.
It was a blatantly political re-write of the law, since felonies are almost always tried in the jurisdiction in which they allegedly occurred, which in Jensen’s case, is Dane County. The state Supreme Court is right now considering the appeal which would move Scooter’s case from Dane County to Waukesha County.
So, more than seven years after he was charged…it remains completely unclear about how this case will be adjudicated, where it will happen, and even who will now prosecute the case. Odds are that the Dane County prosecutor who started the case, District Attorney Brian Blanchard, will be elected to a judgeship a week from today in the spring election.
Jensen has spent a fortune hiring expensive lawyers to delay, deny, stall, muddy the waters, and generally drag their feet on his behalf. This has gone on for 2,719 days. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is keeping track.
There’s an old saying that goes back to the Magna Carta: justice delayed is justice denied. A reasonable delay allows time for both sides to prepare their case. A delay of four years – since the case went to appeal after the 2006 conviction - is unreasonable. A delay of seven years – since Scooter was charged – is unbelievable, unconscionable, and un-American. You have a right to a speedy trial in this country, but apparently if you don’t want a speedy trial, you can buy a chit for that, too.
Only a powerful man, with access to a shipload of money and who peddles a great deal of influence, can get away with stuff like this.
It’s well past time for Scooter to be judged, and, if so ordered, do his jail time.