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As I See It

Getting paid for doing nothing



It is not uncommon for politicians to leave office instead of running for another term. It is also not uncommon for those politicians to make off like bandits when they do leave public office. Take, for example, the case of Mike Gallagher. The Green Bay area Congressman recently announced his plans to retire at the end of his term. He had been considered a rising star in the Republican party, but his vote not to impeach the Homeland Security Secretary stung members of his party who would likely have made it difficult for Gallagher to seek re-election. But don’t feel bad for Gallagher. He leaves office with nearly $4 million in his campaign war chest. Federal law says Gallagher must return any political contributions made specifically for his re-election effort, but that amounts to less than half a million. The rest is his, largely to do with what he pleases. The law says he can’t use it for personal use, such as food, clothing or mortgage payments. But he is allowed to use the money for moving expenses, pay his campaign staff and buy gifts for anyone other than family members. He can use the money to make political contributions, or he can also keep the cash in case he decides to run for office again later. It seems these rules are rather loose, and should be tightened, so that retiring politicians can’t cash out as they check out.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Come On Man

    February 14, 2024 at 6:53 am

    I can’t believe I agree with Scott on this one.
    But, a huge problem we currently have is members of the federal government being able to invest in the stock market while having knowledge of upcoming contracts.
    How can Nancy Pelosi and her husband make millions off the stock market (More than Warren Buffet) and then say there is no conflict of interest?

  2. nick

    February 14, 2024 at 7:42 am

    How much did Ron Kind retire with? Interesting that a Republican is mentioned but this has been going on for a long time.
    The money should be returned to the original donor.
    As for the first post, senate and congress have been called the largest insider trading club for a long time.
    I totally agree with the writer.

  3. The Dude

    February 14, 2024 at 11:21 am

    Again, I agree we MAY need reforms. As a Democrat I see my party and the main stream reporting and even the WIZM Program and News Director taking out the knives and use derogatory terminology against their political opponent.

    He has not even left office and Mr Shaw starts on the offensive by derogatory statements such as ” make off like bandits”, “He leaves office with nearly $4 million in his campaign war chest”. Mr. Shaw has no idea if Mr Gallagher is going to donate the funds to a college, library, or any other upstanding contribution.

    I did not hear Mr Shaw make those statements about Ron Kind who had nearly $1.4 million in his campaign account on June 30 of that year. He instead mere comments about Ron Kinds years of service. Why didn’t this NEWS Director (which we assume Scott is a journalist “”Truth”, “accuracy”, and “objectivity” are cornerstones of journalism) call Ron Kind a scoundrel leaving office with 1.4 millon????

    I am starting to see the bias here.

  4. Walden

    February 14, 2024 at 4:32 pm

    The lack of specifics in this article leaves one wondering and skeptical. The limitations on what the left-over monies can be used for are significant, but poorly outlined in the article. I can’t square the conflicting phrases “largely to do with what he pleases” [vs] “but can’t use it for personal use.” Say what?

    The writer should have benchmarked the $4M against what Ron Kind retained before he went on to his lucrative Washington “consulting” job. Maybe Kind wasted it on Pfaff’s unsuccessful House run. Inquiring minds want to know; not just be fed journalistic pablum. Finish the job.

    WIZM obviously believes throwing rocks at a Republican is always a gratifying exercise; but to suggest improvements instead of just complaining might improve the quality of the discussion.

  5. Paul E Pierce

    February 14, 2024 at 6:42 pm

    Every President starting with Jimmy Carter left office as a multimillionare after starting their terms with substantially less net worth. Ohhhhhh Wait! Except Donald Trump who left office with substantially less net worth than he started with.
    Ron Kind Ranked 131st in the House with an estimated net worth of $1,835,009 in 2018.

  6. Kent Porter

    February 20, 2024 at 6:30 am

    Yea they sure didn’t gat rich from doing a great job for their constitutes

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