Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Russ Feingold

Johnson’s Charitable Giving


Johnson paid nearly the exact same effective tax rate as Feingold — less than 14% — while earning nearly 10 times as much income as his political foe from 2005 to 2008. Johnson was able to lower his rate primarily with his heavy charitable giving.

I realize that Bice is trying to portray this as a negative for Johnson because he paid less taxes while earning (yes, earning) more money than Feingold, but note how he did it… He gave a ton of money to charity. Nothing has changed. Johnson still gives his personal time and money to charitable causes. Are we supposed to consider that a bad thing now?


Feingold and Johnson Debate

I was unable to watch the debate last night between Senator Ron Johnson and challenger Russ Feingold. In reading the coverage of it this morning, one thing continues to stick out to me that I mentioned in my column a few weeks ago. Feingold is running a campaign from 1992. His rhetoric is to old. So tired. So worn. He is utterly vapid with seemingly nothing new to offer other than to warm Wisconsin’s senate seat with musty farts and occasionally belch out Che quotes. For example, take this:

Dem Russ Feingold on Tuesday knocked U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for taking a $700,000 salary from his former plastics company, but voting against efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Really? I saw his TV commercial about this too, but really? This is just rank class warfare. It’s not even pretending to be nuanced. If you planning to vote for Feingold because you are jealous of Johnson’s salary – which he earned in the private sector – then you are too stupid to vote. But I guess that’s the electorate to which Feingold is appealing.


Feingold Suggests Executive Orders to Undermine 2nd Amendment

First, one must note that Feingold is raising money in California. He does seem quite a bit more comfortable out there. Second, I don’t think it is any surprise that Feingold opposes the rights guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment or that he would support the Executive Branch usurping the Legislative branch for the cause of tamping down our civil rights. It is pretty much par for the course for Feingold.

The video from James O’Keefe shows theconservative activist and his Project Veritas team impersonating a liberal donor giving money to Feingold at a Palo Alto fundraiser and asking whether Clinton could issue an executive order to tighten restrictions on firearm sales. In the video, Feingold says Democrats should work to win control of the U.S. Senate and pass legislation to regulate gun sales but also points to a position on Clinton’s website — that like President Barack Obama she could do an end run around Congress and issue an executive order to expand background checks on gun show sales.

Feingold, a former Democratic U.S. senator, is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

“Well, there might be an executive order,” Feingold tells a disguised O’Keefe and other wealthy liberal donors. “…But what we all need is to win the Senate, have (Clinton) there, and then put pressure on the (GOP-controlled) House. And we might even win the House.”

Johnson and Feingold Tied in Latest Marquette Poll

Good news as Trump continues to crater everywhere.

Feingold, the Middleton liberal who lost the Senate seat he held for three terms to Johnson in 2010, has a narrow lead of 46 percent to Johnson’s 44 percent among likely voters. That’s well within the Marquette poll’s margin of error of 3.9 percent among the 878 voters who said they were likely to vote next month.

Phil Anderson, the Libertarian candidate, received 4 percent support from likely voters, while 5 percent of respondents did not express a preference.

Johnson  has made up a lot of ground since the middle of last month when the Marquette poll found Feingold up by 5 percentage points – 44 percent to 39 percent. It would seem Anderson’s loss is Johnson’s gain. The Libertarian candidate polled at 7 percent last month, with 10 percent of voters were undecided.

In a straight, head-to-head match-up between Johnson and Feingold, 48 percent of likely voters support the challenger; 46 percent favor Johnson. Feingold held a 6 percentage point advantage in the previous poll, 47 percent to 41 percent.

This is the first time I recall Johnson’s numbers moving independently of the presidential candidate. Johnson’s poll numbers are improving while Trump’s are going the other way. That means that a lot of folks are coming back to Johnson.

Why? As a general rule, people need a reason to change. Feingold’s entire campaign has just been a negative rant aping the same old liberal mantras of the last 40 years. It is as if he hasn’t updated his campaign material since he ran in 2000. Meanwhile, he’s being such a raging hypocrite on his signature issue, campaign finance reform, that even his supporters guffaw when he lectures us on the evils of undisclosed corporate donations. Feingold just hasn’t made a compelling case for change.

It’s still a long time until the election and the turnout for the top of the ticket will drive a lot of the down ballot races, but Johnson has to feel positive about this poll.

Feingold Wants to Criminalize Free Speech

Just think through what Feingold wants here.

He said political coordination should be subject to “criminal penalties.”

Criminal. Criminal! He wants the government to draw lines between people to forbid them from speaking to each other, and if you cross those lines, he wants the government to put you in jail. Who draws those lines to decide who can speak to whom and who is forbidden from speaking to whom? Politicians. Politicians who want to be reelected and squelch criticism of their activities. Feingold wants to use the full coercive power of government to actually stop citizens from freely speaking to each other about political issues.

And then there’s this:

Feingold would also turn the Federal Election Commission, which is deadlocked between Republicans and Democrats, into an administrative agency.

Bear in mind that an “administrative agency” means that it is at the beck and call of the party in power. What Feingold wants is to make the government body that is responsible for regulating and enforcing our election laws to be completely controlled by the party that is currently in power. What could go wrong?

Feingold seems to have a perverse penchant for wanting to give politicians the power to put down opposition to their own power.

One easy choice on the ballot

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Although the choices at the top of the November ballot are truly a basket of deplorables, there are some easy choices further down the ballot. Sen. Ron Johnson has earned a second term, and Russ Feingold has certainly not made the case for himself.

As the adage goes, past performance is the best predictor of future performance. If that is the case, then a fourth term for Feingold would be wretched for the people of Wisconsin. After spending 10 years warming a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate, Feingold was elevated by the voters to do the same for 18 years in the U.S. Senate.

During Feingold’s almost two decades representing Wisconsin in Washington, he accomplished very little. His name is attached to one legislative achievement that was an affront to free speech. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law was an assault on free speech that was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The single legislative accomplishment of the self-described champion of civil rights was a law that was thrown out for violating civil rights.

When Feingold wasn’t spending his time hobnobbing with elites and enjoying the perks of being in the most exclusive club in the world, he was being one of the most loyal votes for the Democratic leadership. Feingold voted to continue partial birth abortions.

He voted against notifying parents when their kids get an abortion out of state. He voted for President Barack Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus package that only stimulated Democratic constituents. He voted against education savings accounts, against medical savings accounts, against Roth IRAs, against personal retirement accounts, against school vouchers for D.C., against ending the death tax, against voluntary prayer in schools, against energy expansion in the U.S., for sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, for illegal aliens to receive Social Security and, of course, for Obamacare.

Since being ousted from office six years ago, an act that many attribute to his zealous support for Obamacare, Feingold has slid further into disrepute. He has completely reversed himself on his promise to fund his campaign primarily from Wisconsinites. In fact, almost 70 percent of Feingold’s campaign funds comes from out-of-state people and organizations.

Feingold has also used his PAC as a personal slush fund. Immediately after losing to Johnson in 2010, Feingold launched his Progressives United PAC with the stated goal of supporting progressive candidates in Wisconsin and elsewhere. As he fleeced donors for cash with the promise to support liberal causes, he actually spent a full 95 percent of the money on himself, his friends and on raising more money. A charity that only spent 5 percent of its proceeds on its stated goal would be rightfully dragged through the media for its deceptive marketing and immoral management.

Meanwhile, Johnson has accomplished more in a single term in the senate than Feingold did in three. In fact, a Hloom study that evaluated the productivity of all senators ranked Johnson as the absolute most productive senator. Johnson was selected as chairman of the hugely important Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From this position, Johnson has been at the forefront of some of our nation’s most important issues. (It is also telling that in 18 years in the Senate, Feingold’s colleagues had so little respect for him that he was never selected to chair any committee.) But Johnson’s service specifically to the citizens of Wisconsin perhaps outweighs even his influence on national issues. He and his staff have been incredibly responsive to helping constituents navigate the federal government and resolve issues. One of those constituents was the whistleblower who reported incredible abuses taking place at the Tomah VA facility. Despite these reports being ignored by Feingold when he was in office and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Johnson and his staff sprang into action. Johnson’s committee investigated the allegations and released a 350-page report detailing the rampant and systematic abuses at the VA, spurring action by government officials for reform.

Johnson has also been personally working on some of Wisconsin’s most pressing problems. Johnson and his staff have been working with the Rev. Jerome Smith in Milwaukee’s inner city on the Joseph Project, which was started to help the city’s poorest black residents find and keep gainful employment. The project has helped at least 80 people find jobs paying $12.80 and more through direct, personal involvement. One person at a time. Person to person. With this project alone, Johnson has done more to solve Milwaukee’s most difficult problems than Feingold did in nearly 30 years of elected office.

Johnson has been one of the most productive, thoughtful, problem-solving and effective senators that Wisconsin has ever had. He is facing a challenge from a political retread with a record of only leaving the backbench to grow government and quash civil rights. It is an easy choice. Vote for Ron Johnson.

Reid Blocks Right to Try Bill

Make no mistake. Harry Reid doesn’t give two shites about terminally sick people if it means denying a Republican a political win before an election. So if you have a family member who can’t try an experimental treatment and dies in the next couple of months, you can thank Harry Reid and the beneficiary of his political hack job, Russ Feingold.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s push for a right-to-try bill ran up against the reality of hardball politics Wednesday.

Johnson’s measure to allow terminally ill patients to receive experimental drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration was blocked by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Johnson sought to move the bill through unanimous consent, meaning one senator could halt its progress.  And that’s what Reid did, blunting a Johnson initiative for the second time in recent months. In July, Reid blocked Johnson’s bill to protect federal whistleblowers from retaliation.

Johnson faces a tough re-election fight against Democrat Russ Feingold, so any move to get legislation through by a parliamentary maneuver was always going to be difficult.

Feingold Cashes in on Higher Ed

The GOP has a point.

“Sen. Feingold can’t have it both ways, and his record places him firmly on the wrong side of students, said Pat Garrett, spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party. “While Feingold talks about making college affordable, he hypocritically spent years cashing in— taking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees and salaries.”

Garrett was referring to Feingold’s six-figure salary at Stanford University and honoraria collected from various universities for campus visits listed in his personal financial disclosure forms.

A search of those records dating back to 2013 show he collectively received $450,000 between 2012-15 from 17 different schools, the lion’s share coming from Stanford, where he was on staff.

I’d like to know the ROI for spending so much money on Feingold that the students and taxpayers received. It is difficult to take Feingold seriously about his concerns about the cost of higher education when he is cashing in on the bloated spending from that same industry. It is equally difficult to take colleges and universities seriously when they cry “poor” given how much stupid spending they do.

Feingold Campaign Infiltrated

Sadly, this tactic has become SOP for all sides.

Madison — An apparent Republican activist tried to join Democrat Russ Feingold’s team this week in what Feingold’s campaign suspects was a plot to dig up dirt on him.

In an interview with Feingold staff on Wednesday, she initially said she wanted to work on issues affecting women’s health care and unions, but clammed up when confronted about whether she had worked for conservatives and tried to infiltrate Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Iowa last year.

“I’m not going to be answering any questions, so if you want me to leave, I’ll leave. If you want me to stay, I’ll stay,” she responded, according to an audio recording provided by the Feingold campaign.

Told she needed to leave, she responded, “Cool! Well, it was great meeting you.”

Johnson and Feingold on Gun Control

This editorial disguised as a news story by the Wisconsin State Journal made me chuckle. Here’s the opening:

The ever-explosive gun issue creates potential pitfalls for both major-party candidates in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.

For Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the problem is public opinion, which runs counter to his opposition to gun-control measures being debated in Congress.

For Democrat Russ Feingold, it’s his mottled record on guns, which appears out of step with a Democratic Party that’s increasingly unified in favor of new gun restrictions.

So according to the reporter, the problem with both candidates is that they aren’t anti-2nd Amendment enough. If ONLY they would be more anti-civil rights, they would have a better chance of winning.


Feingold Criticized for Not Responding to Tomah VA Issues


Honl criticizes Feingold for not responding to a April 17, 2009 memo  sent out by the American Federation of Government Employees, which outlined many of the problems later reported by the Inspector General. On the memo featured in the ad, the words “hand-delivered to Congressman Kind, Congressman Obey, Senator Feingold” are written out in ink by AFGE Local 0007 President Lin Ellinghuysen.

“I found out that Russ Feingold got a memo in 2009 that outlined veteran harm and nothing was done. Russ Feingold ignored veteran’s concerns while veterans we’re dying at the facility,” says Honl in the ad.

Honl took to Facebook Monday morning to explain why he decided to take part in the ad campaign.

“Russ Feingold, Ron Kind, and the American Federation of Government Employees have answers to give. ‘We didn’t know anything about that’ is not sufficient. ‘I was misinformed’ as the Tomah union president states is not sufficient,” Honl wrote in a statement. “The issues highlighted in the union memo were well known as early as 2009. The union never went to any other political party with any of these concerns because of politics (which it admitted).”

Feingold Won’t Reveal Primary Vote

As someone who wants a job whose primary responsibility is to take public votes on contentious issues, it seems odd that Feingold is so secretive about this one.

U.S. Senate hopeful Russ Feingold is refusing to say whether he voted for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary earlier this month.

Feingold’s Slush Fund

I thought we already knew that Feingold’s Progressive United PAC was just a slush fund he set up while in the wilderness to fund his return to D.C.? Wasn’t that obvious to everyone?

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold set a specific goal when he set up Progressives United PAC shortly after losing his seat to Republican challenger Ron Johnson in 2010.

Feingold, a Democrat, said he wanted the political action committee “to support candidates that will stand up to corporate influence and oppose those who blindly push the agenda of their corporate backers.”

Now the question is this: Has Feingold proved to be the primary beneficiary of that work by Progressives United PAC and its nonprofit arm, Progressives United Inc.?

It certainly appears so — whether that was the intent or not.

In important ways, Feingold’s campaign against Johnson has picked up on the successes of Progressives United Inc. and PAC, which spent a combined $10 million since 2011.

Feingold Gets Help From Dukakis

I admit, I thought Dukakis was dead.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis is helping Russ Feingold raise money for his U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin.

Dukakis was among those scheduled to be at a Feingold fundraiser Monday in Massachusetts. Dukakis ran for president in 1988 but was beaten by Republican George H.W. Bush. Wisconsin was one of only 10 states Dukakis carried that year in the loss.

As someone who is trying to disown his 18 years in the Senate and present himself as a fresh face, reaching back to failed presidential candidates from the 80’s (and one who has become a punchline) for support is not the best strategy. I’m sure the GOP will have a field day with this.

Feingold Welcomes Anybody’s Cash

Speaking of flip flops.

In four Senate campaigns, Feingold abided by the pledge he inscribed on his garage door: He would raise the majority of his campaign cash from Wisconsin residents.

Feingold said he was changing with the times, and is no longer bound by his previous pledge.

That’s a complete reversal. And a Full Flop.

Call Him “Russ”

Makes sense. Despite being in the Senate for half of his adult life, he is positioning himself as an outsider and the “anti-Washington” candidate.

In a recent chat with Door County Dems, Laning said the Feingold campaign has told supporters to refer to the Democratic candidate as “Russ,” not Sen. Feingold, and not to say that he is hoping to “go back” to the Senate. Feingold is challenging U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican who beat him in 2010.

“I can share with you Russ’ campaign (and) what they’ve told us so far,” Laning said in the videotaped segment, first reported by the The Washington Free Beacon.

“Never call him ‘Senator Feingold.’ We are to call him ‘Russ,'” she said. “They want us to say ‘Russ’ because the last campaign — it was all about ’16 years, 16 years, 16 years, he’s there too long.’ And so they want to say, ‘He’s just one of us.’ We want to go back to Russ being Russ.”

It’s a minor point, but Feingold served three full terms in the Senate, meaning he was in D.C. for 18 years, not 16.

Feingold reveals himself to the voters

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

It is not an uncommon act. Sleazy politicians will often form political action committees whose real purpose is to put money in the politicians’ and their cronies’ pockets. They are usually fairly easy to spot because they spend a lot of money on things like staff, office facilities, fundraising, travel, meals, etc. and very little on the actual stated purpose of the PAC. This is why it was fairly easy to identify Russ Feingold’s Progressives United PAC as one of these sham slush funds for its sleazy founder.

When Feingold lost his bid for a fourth term as Wisconsin’s United States senator to Ron Johnson in 2010, he immediately created Progressives United PAC with the stated mission to, “empower Americans to stand up against the exploding corporate influence in our elections by directly or indirectly supporting candidates who stand up for our progressive ideals.” I guess that Feingold could not find many candidates who support his progressive ideals, because, as first reported by Dan Bice in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feingold’s PAC has spent less than 5 percent of the $7.1 million it has raised since 2011 on candidates or political parties. You can guess where the rest of the money went.

Much of the money went to pay the salaries of longtime Feingold staffers who found themselves out of a job when their boss failed to win the support of the citizens of Wisconsin for a fourth term. Nine of Feingold’s former U.S. Senate and campaign staffers drew salaries or consulting fees from the PAC for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Overall, Progressives United PAC and its sister nonprofit, Progressives United Inc., spent $2.2 million on compensation for employees between 2011 and 2014. Feingold has used his PAC to keep his loyal cronies fed and close so that he can easily transition them into his campaign now that he is gearing up for another run for his old job.

Feingold himself pocketed a lot of cash from Progressives United PAC and Inc. He was paid $77,000 for part-time consulting and strategic management. The PAC also spent more than $42,000 to buy copies of Feingold’s book — including 100 leather-bound versions. It also appears, according to Wisconsin Watchdog, the PAC picked up $23,000 worth of Feingold’s rent for his Washington, D.C. pad.

The money put directly into Feingold’s pocket does not count the stylish traveling he did using PAC funds. During the time that Feingold was being paid as an adviser for the PAC, it spent more than $40,000 on travel expenses, including stays at swanky hotels and meals at the finest restaurants in the country. Clearly, Feingold has moved past his “everyman” image of the 1990s and is cashing in to enjoy the best that political payback has to offer.

All of this money was raised and spent, remember, with less than 5 percent of the monies raised going to the actual purpose for which it was raised. If Progressives United were a charity or business, its behavior and spending habits would be scandalous.

Still, Feingold’s Progressives United did not do anything illegal. Nor did it do anything particularly unusual in the annals of politics. Why does it matter?

It matters because Feingold is running for office again and asking for our vote. During his term as a U.S. senator, he cultivated an image as a champion of good government. He attempted to ban all spending by PACs in 1995. He authored the horrible McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which was largely ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. He has spent his entire career crooning about corruption and money in politics. It has been his stock and trade.

Now we all see Feingold for who he really is — just another sleazy politician trading false promises for cash.

Owen Robinson is a West Bend resident. Reach him at .


Feingold’s Cash Cow

Is anyone surprised that Russ Feingold is a raging hypocrite on campaign finance and dark money? Dan Bice reports.

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold — long a champion of campaign finance reform — founded a political action committee that has given a mere 5% of its income to federal candidates and political parties.

Instead, nearly half of the $7.1 million that Progressives United PAChas spent since 2011 has gone to raising more money for itself, according to data compiled by The data also show the group has paid another sizable chunk of money on salaries or consulting fees for Feingold, his top aide and eight former staffers.


Federal election records show that Feingold’s PAC spent $4.2 million during the 2011-’12 campaign cycle. Of that, it gave 7% to federal candidates, political parties and campaign committees.

The percentage dropped in the 2013-’14 election cycle.

During that two-year span, Feingold’s fund spent $2.5 million, with only 1.6% of its outlay being used on direct support for candidates and parties.

And, of course, as soon as this story broke, Feingold sent out a fundraising letter on it.

As a side note, here is also a little window into why the cost of a college education is so high:

Feingold also taught one course at Stanford University this spring, earning $50,000 for the class.




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