Justice denied: Jensen walks | WisCommunity

Justice denied: Jensen walks

You could smell this coming a mile away.

Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, previously convicted of three felony counts of misconduct in office, is going scot free, pleading to one civil misdemeanor and getting the felony charges wiped from his record.

So the guy who took the misuse of taxpayer dollars for political campaigns to unprecedented heights in Wisconsin has beaten the system. Jensen, among other things, hired a full-time Assembly staffer for more than $60,000 a year who did nothing but raise money for Republicans. That was her full-time job.

How'd he do it?

His lawyers somehow convinced the State Supreme Court that a new law, saying legislators should be tried in their home counties instead of Dane County, the seat of state government, applied retroactively to Jensen. No matter that the law was not on the books when Jensen committed his crimes. And, yes, they were crimes, and he was convicted by a Dane County jury. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, but after dragging the case out for eight years has not served a day.

But the Supreme Court decision sent the case back to Waukesha County, Jensen's home base, with a friendly Republican district attorney who said he wasn't that familiar with the complilcated case and was really busy, anyway. (We could save even more of the DA's limited resources if he didn't prosecute anybody, instead of picking and choosing.)

And the judge gave Jensen a big, wet sloppy kiss:

"Mr. Jensen, you've suffered long and hard," Judge Snyder said. "What was once a promising career in politics in serving the state of Wisconsin -- and you've served so well many of us in your capacity -- today, absent this, you may have been the governor of Wisconsin. So the price that you have paid is dear."

Good grief!

Others indicted in the Capitol scandal served jail time. Jensen will pay a piddly $5,000 fine -- pocket change compared with what he rakes in from school choice groups and others, like the MacIver Institute who have paid him all the while. He'll also have to pay the state $67,000 in legal fees, plus what he or someone has paid his own lawyers. A lot of money to some people, but a bargain basement deal for Scott Jensen.

 The one solace is that his misdemeanor conviction means he can never hold office again -- not that he ever intended to run again. Big hairy deal.


December 20, 2010 - 4:18pm