ICYMI: GOP Lawmakers Skip Vote on Clean Water Funding to Head to D.C. Fundraiser

Apr 17, 2024

ICYMI: GOP Lawmakers Skip Vote on Clean Water Funding to Head to D.C. Fundraiser

MADISON, Wis. — Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that multiple Republican members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee skipped Governor Evers’ special committee meeting to release funding to address PFAS contamination and support rural health care to instead attend a private fundraiser in Washington D.C.

“Republicans sipping cocktails in the offices of a DC lobbying firm while Wisconsinites in communities struggling with PFAS contamination drink bottled water is shameful,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Joe Oslund. “It’s time for the GOP to curtail their tour of the DC party circuit and get back to work for the people of Wisconsin by releasing the $140 million in already approved funding for clean water and rural hospitals they are holding hostage.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP lawmakers skip vote on clean water funding to head to D.C. fundraiser
By: Mary Spicuzza

When Gov. Tony Evers called a special meeting of the Legislature’s budget committee Tuesday to release $140 million for combating forever chemical contamination and preventing rural hospital closures, Republican lawmakers were nowhere to be found.

Some of the absentee GOP lawmakers are instead in Washington, D.C., this week for a “Wisconsin Night” fundraiser hosted by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

A photograph posted on X by the Committee on House Administration, which is chaired by Rep. Bryan Steil, showed a group of Republican Wisconsin state lawmakers joining members of the state’s congressional delegation Wednesday to plant a sugar maple tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

Finance committee members at the tree planting included Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, a Joint Finance Committee co-chair, and finance committee members Sen. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesen, Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc and Rep. Alex Dallman, R-Green Lake.

Others in attendance included Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca. One photo said the sugar maple, the official Wisconsin state tree, was dedicated Wednesday “to honor the people of Wisconsin.”

An invitation to the Wednesday night fundraiser obtained by the Journal Sentinel lists prices ranging from $1,000 per person to attend, $2,500 to sponsor, and $5,000 to host. It’s being held about 850 miles away from the state Capitol at the offices of the BGR Group, a prominent D.C. lobbying firm.


None of the Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee responded to requests for interviews about their whereabouts Tuesday.

Storm Linjer, a spokeswoman for Born, sent a statement from last week accusing Evers of “playing politics” and arguing that the governor has no authority to call the committee into a special meeting. Republicans have criticized Evers’ veto of a GOP-passed bill that would have spelled out uses for the PFAS funds. Evers cited the bill’s enforcement restrictions in his veto.

Linjer did not respond to follow-up questions about whether Born was in D.C. on Tuesday, and whether he was planning to attend the Wisconsin Night fundraiser or other fundraising events.

Since there were no Republican members of Joint Finance at the Tuesday morning meeting, there were too few in attendance to convene.

Evers appeared alongside Democratic members of the committee after the Republican majority failed to show up.

The Democratic governor accused the GOP-controlled committee of acting as a fourth branch of power within the state and not as just a part of the Legislature, noting that the funding had already been approved.

“You have an obligation to release (the funding),” Evers said. “And it seems we are wasting time and energy of the people of Wisconsin.”

Evers had called for the meeting of the budget committee last week to release funding to address both forever chemicals (PFAS) and the lack of medical resources in the northeastern portion of the state.