Not my favorite headline, but my column is online and in print in the Washington County Daily News today. Here’s a part:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story last week that Evers’ long time Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, the power behind the throne, has been in a relationship with one of her direct subordinates for years. When confronted with the news, the governor reacted aggressively rejecting the implication that such a situation was inappropriate. He said, “I don’t think it’s anybody’s g****** business” and assured people that, “I monitor their performance on a regular basis.”
It was also revealed that the governor’s office does not have a policy prohibiting such relationships and that the governor patently rejects the idea that such a policy is necessary. The governor rejects that such a policy is necessary because it is a small staff of about thirty people and he can personally evaluate each member’s performance to avoid any possibility of inappropriate behavior based on who is having sex with whom.
Since the governor has taken personal ownership and responsibility for each member of his staff’s performance, perhaps he can explain the meteoric rise of Gau’s better half. Originally appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year, the employee was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and given a raise to $100,006 per year. This year, that salary was increased to $112,008. That is an 80% increase in pay in just four years when other state employees are barely seeing cost of living increases in their wages.
Did Governor Evers conduct a competitive hiring process before signing off on the promotion? Were other candidates considered? What were the selection criteria? What experience or previous performance supported the promotion for that employee more than other employees of similar rank and tenure? If everything is above board, then surely the governor would willingly show the rigor behind his hiring and promotion methodology, no?
Governor Evers is running an office in which romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates is allowed at great risk to the taxpayers and at great consternation to others in the office who do not have exclusive access to his chief of staff’s ear in the wee hours of the morning. He has forcefully, and repeatedly, taken personal responsibility to ensure that all employment practices are appropriately followed irrespective of such relationships. It is his burden of proof to show that his office is being run in a professional way within the legal strictures and societal norms the rest of us live by every day.