"IF Sheridan’s date were a lobbyist working to crush the payday loan industry or at the least enact very tight payday loan regulations, would folks be more or less enraged by his relationship? Would this even be news? I seriously doubt it. Is the outrage strictly political or is it about corruption? Wisconsin’s windmill regulations and the video competition act were all heavily lobbied. Minds were changed, otherwise why would there be lobbyists?"
When I first saw the Saturday's Janesville Gazette front page headline, "Sheridan: It's Not A Conflict" I immediately thought of Wisconsin Supreme Court Judges Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman.
The Gazette obviously, has shifted into high gear with their "investigation" into rumors delving into the private life of the Wisconsin Democrat. In multiple articles including this posting, they malign the legislator even further by painting him as ducking the issue and implying special interest favors are effecting his legislative position. The writer of the Gazette blog demands Sheridan return his call, he writes...
JG Blog Excerpt:Thank goodness no one else is concerned, right?
"Representative Sheridan, I left a message for you yesterday. I sure hope I get a return call. Better yet, stop by my dad's place next time you visit your dad. They live across the street from each other. If you have the time I'll stop up too. I'm not a professional lobbyist. I'm a citizen with a concern. A concern that you might allow this parasite industry to grow."
But there's a problem. If you're asking the legislator as a concerned citizen, why are you doing it under the umbrella of the newspaper? Are you asking the legislator as a concerned citizen or as a journalist working for the Janesville Gazette? Do you intend to weaponize Sheridan's remarks or lack of remarks in another blog posting under the umbrella of the Gazette? IF so, you are a lobbyist working for the Janesville Gazette applying the same pressure tactics legislators see everyday. You're part of the problem.
Should Sheridan respond to the Gazette blog any differently than he would if he received the message in a phone call, email or letter from a concerned citizen? I should think not. The line begins at the back.
If folks think Sheridan has a conflict of interest, they'll have to prove a quid pro quo took place. Rumors won't do. But remember, legislators owe no conscience of impartiality into their decisions or votes, not like judges do. Yet the Wisconsin Supreme Court allows judges to hear the court cases of donors to their campaigns. Where was the Front-page headline outrage from the Gazette?
Two years ago, it was "rumored" Rep. Brett Davis accepted a $4 million state earmark for a soybean crusher study in his district in exchange for a vote on the state budget. The Gazette defended Davis, saying Democrats would love to claim his seat in the legislature. Great reason! There were no articles from the Gazette attempting to substantiate the Davis rumor. Davis of course is a Republican.
The newspaper is clearly spinning it's wheels on Sheridan hoping to gain some traction before the engine burns out. It has reached the point where every article they publish on government or politicians carries with it a bias or an underlying goal. Their steady pace of inconsistencies has stripped away all the credibility that is required of open and honest objective journalism. As a citizenry, we are the ones to end up losing.
Note: This posting is the independent perspective and opinion of it's author.