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Wisconsin Dems file ethics charges against Scott Walker

MORNING EDITION More from Badger State: WSJ on Michael Moore, and historic protest signs. ALSO: Alternate teacher FAQ; hazelnut scare, dueling big businesses; and more.
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Wisconsin Democrats, those not chilling in Illinois, have followed through on their threat to file ethics charges against Gov. Scott Walker for some of his comments in that notorious prank phone call. The AP story says: “The complaint that’s been filed with the Government Accountability Board claims Walker violated ethics regulations, including those prohibiting use of state offices for political purposes. Monday’s complaint says Walker’s statements asking campaign contributors for support constituted ‘illegal third-party coordination’ in violation of campaign finance regulations.”

Anytime you see the Wall Street Journal covering a Michael Moore appearance you gotta read, even if it is on the paper’s “Speakeasy” blog. Lyneka Little writes: “Moore read from a statement he titled ‘America is Not Broke.’ The filmmaker said, ‘contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had — America is not broke, not by a long shot, the country is awash in cash … 400 obscenely wealthy individuals … most of whom benefited in some way from the multitril­lion dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008, now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. It is a shame. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest with what you know in your heart to be true.’ ”

An AP story says the Smithsonian has taken an interest in the protest signs in Madison: “The signs, banners and papers taped to the walls of the Wisconsin Capitol these last three weeks to protest a union bill have been removed — but most may be preserved and some may end up at the Smithsonian. Many of the signs were photographed before they were taken down Sunday and preserved by the Wisconsin Historical Society. The state Department of Administration says the signs will be evaluated for historical content by both the Smithsonian and the historical society.” So we will finally know how many variations on “Koch whore” there actually were.

MPR serves up a useful FAQ for that new teaching licensure law. One of the questions: “What’s the problem this is trying to solve? The stated goals of the legislation are to improve student achievement, increase diversity among teachers and to help close the achievement gap. Dayton, in his letter to legislative leaders this week, also said his hope is the bill would help school districts find teachers for subject areas where there are shortages. In Minnesota, shortages are most often noted in math, science, special education and world languages. Alternatively licensed teachers would still be a vast minority of Minnesota’s entire teaching force of 52,000, but supporters of alternative certification note the increase in recent years of the nationwide numbers.”        

In-shell hazelnuts? The advice: Dump ’em. Apparently there’s an E. coli risk. Nicole Blazek of The Clinical Advisor blog writes: “The FDA and CDC are advising people in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to discard in-shell hazelnuts and mixed-nut products that contain in-shell hazelnuts due to the potential for serious illness from possible Esherichia coli 0157:H7 contamination. Distributor DeFranco & Sons of Los Angeles is voluntarily recalling hazelnuts after reports that seven became sick with E. coli 0157:H7 after consuming its product.”

At the end of (yet another) story of Denny Hecker facing (yet another) court date, Strib reporter Dee DePass gets into that funky “wedding by proxy” business. “Last week, a marriage certificate for Hecker and Rowan was filed in Hennepin County. … Hecker was in jail and the bride and witnesses were at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. The Hennepin County attorney’s office has said it would not file charges, but turned the matter over to Maple Grove authorities for possible investigation.
Lord of Life Pastor Peter Geisendorfer-Lindgren told the Star Tribune in an interview Monday that he performed the ceremony over a speaker phone. He added that Hecker and Rowan had planned to marry for quite a while, but that Hecker’s sudden arrest in October altered their plans. So far, no one has challenged the marriage, so Geisendorfer-Lindgren assumes it is legal. ‘They have not said it’s illegal, so I assume we are done,’ he said.” Do you think Denny tipped him?

Talk about a struggling ma-and-pa company that can never catch a break. UnitedHealth has filed a protest with the General Accounting Office over that (very) fat $22 billion Pentagon contract it lost to Humana last week. Jeremy Herb and Jim Spencer of the Strib say: “The Minnetonka-based company filed a protest with the General Accounting Office (GAO) alleging violations of federal procurement law. The letter triggered a temporary hold on a regional contract to provide health care to military veterans and their families through a program called Tricare. The letter was the latest twist in a bitter, high-stakes war that has pitted UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurance company by sales, against another health insurance giant, Humana.”

“Predatory” is always a good word to throw at someone if you want to get their attention. In this case, the charge is being made against Medtronic. Janet Moore of the Strib reports: “In recent weeks, the Fridley-based medical technology giant canceled several contracts covering cardiovascular and spinal products with two group purchasing organizations (GPOs), Novation LLC and Premier Inc. Part of a $1.9 billion industry, GPOs negotiate contracts with manufacturers of medical products like Medtronic on behalf of hospitals. By pooling the purchasing power of multiple hospitals, GPOs say they can negotiate lower prices. Medtronic’s ‘predatory’ decision ‘puts greed ahead of patients’ and is ‘nothing short of an attack on America’s hospitals,’ said Curtis Rooney, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Health Industry Group Purchasing Association.” “Greed,” of course, is good for shareholder value.

Sally Jo Sorensen at the “Bluestem Prairie” blog keeps a close eye on state GOP Chair Tony Sutton … to the point of reporting that Sutton’s wife is no longer involved with their struggling Baja Sol fast food chain: “Over the weekend, word came from two different sources — one from the restaurant business, another from politics — that Bridget Sutton is no longer with the Baja Sol restaurant chain. A call to the Baja Sol corporate office  this morning confirmed that Sutton was ‘no longer with’ the company. … Sutton and her husband … Tony … first entered the  faux Mexican fast casual restaurant business in 2004, when they opened a Tortilla Grill in downtown Minneapolis; by 2006, they purchased the chain with TCF powerhouse and former Republican Chair Bill Cooper, with aggressive plans to expand the chain. The enterprise drew other high-powered Republican money-men, including former chair Ron Carey. One listing for a Baja Sol Cantina franchise at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office lists the same address as the Wigley Family Foundation (aka Michael Wigley, founder of the Minnesota Taxpayers League). These plans failed, and the chain is down to 11 Tortilla Grills in Minnesota, after restaurants in Illinois and Ohio closed, and the sit-down cantina restaurants were shuttered last year.” The Wigley Family Foundation is … tax exempt, by the way.