Last month, Wisconsin Democratic leaders denied J.B. Van Hollen his request to join other states across the country that were planning on suing the federal government over the legality of the new health care law that passed. I wrote on the subject at the time, stating, "Van Hollen’s quest to unravel the health reform package...is a great act of political theater in an election year."
I stand by that statement. But it turns out, I was more right than even I knew.
One Wisconsin Now, a non-profit group run by Scot Ross, recently obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that shows Van Hollen's office consulted with a GOP-based campaign group, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), on how best to go forward with the lawsuit in Wisconsin.
State law requires that, in order to pursue such a lawsuit, the Attorney General must be asked formally by the Governor or by either house of the legislature. Van Hollen failed to receive a request, and thus the matter has essentially been shelved for now.
But looking back at who Van Hollen was working with is puzzling. Instead of seeking counsel with the brightest legal minds available to him, Van Hollen sought the advice of a campaign committee. It's clear from that fact alone that Van Hollen's motivations weren't to protect the interests of the people of Wisconsin, but rather his own political ambitions.
That alone should cause some to worry about the competency of our elected Attorney General. But then something else came to light.
Last summer, Van Hollen received a campaign contribution of $10,000 for his re-election, set to occur November 2 of this year. In terms of election dollars for a statewide office in a non-election year, that's a pretty big sum of cash, not to be looked over by any means. The contributor of that donation? None other than the RSLC.
The question that should be coming to everyone's minds here is this: was Van Hollen agreeing to work on a lawsuit because he wanted more campaign contributions? It certainly looks that way; many other attorneys general, too, received contributions from the RSLC just before they began work on their lawsuits against the federal government.
It could be all coincidental. It could be that the RSLC is just making sure that the Republicans in several key state races are being well-funded, and are donating to their campaigns to ensure they get re-elected. That wouldn't be too bad a thing, and we shouldn't be critical on that note alone.
The problem lies elsewhere: it's that these attorneys general, Van Hollen included, are seeking the advice and counsel, not from lawyers and legal theorists, but rather the RSLC itself. It's a political group giving advice to elected officials on matters that are meant to benefit the people but instead cater to a specific political party.
Wisconsin deserves an attorney general who will work for the people, not the party he owes favors to. Van Hollen has proven time and time again that he is not the man for the job.
Remember this when election time comes around: J.B. Van Hollen is working for the GOP, not the people of Wisconsin.