Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Carpetbaggers

In the days after the Civil War, a number of opportunistic Northerners moved into the defeated states of the Confederacy seeking election to public office--and drawing the support of the newly-freed slaves to win.  Some had lived in their new homes less than a few months before winning positions in statehouses and even Congress.  Some came with the honest intention of helping Reconstruction take place--but many just saw an easy path to political influence.  Those who had lived in the South before then developed a term for their newly-elected officials: Carpetbaggers.  The term came from the cheap luggage the new arrivals used to carry their belongings as they got off the carriages or the trains.

Wisconsin seems to have a new influx of Carpetbaggers in its political ranks.  Much is being made right now of State Senator and Congressional candidate Frank Lasee's actual residency.  Lasee claims an apartment in De Pere is his home.  But his wife lists her residence as being in Racine--and Lasee has claimed that house as both an asset and a residence in legal procedings.  In an expose piece over the weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found Lasee's De Pere "home" listed on the temporary housing website AirBNB as being available for rental any day this year.  Lasee initially claimed that he and his wife only listed the apartment to rent out on Packers home game weekends.  And after the reporter pressed the issue further, the listing came down altogether.

Lasee is not alone in questionable residency.  Congressman Glenn Grothman had to buy or rent a new place when he ran for the 6th Congressional seat in 2014 because he didn't live in the district.  Neither did his Republican primary challenger Duey Strobel.  You may recall that Congressman Reid Ribble had to move a couple of miles because he didn't live in the 8th District the first time he ran for that office.  And there are questions about the residency of State Senate Candidate Mark Elliott here in Oshkosh--as his announcement that he was getting into the race for the 18th District came from Florida--and his Facebook timeline was filled with pictures from the Sunshine State for several previous months.

It should be pointed out that under current state law, a person is not required to live in a district at the time they first run for an office--but they are required to move in before they can begin to serve.  But it seems to me that those already living in an area should make up the pool of candidates to serve that area--even if the Carpetbagger might have a better chance to win.

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