A case of bad timing for recall target Hopper?
Long-time readers of this blog know that we occasionally enjoy the salacious tidbit here. The photo above is Howard K. Stern arriving at Anna Nicole Smith’s home in the Bahamas, where I piled in with the tabloids and legitimate media shortly after her death in February 2007. We ran it in the prior edition of this blog because, well, everyone else was doing it. (Yes, I know those palm trees are confusing to Fox News and they probably think this is Governor Walker heading up to the gate at the Executive Residence in Madison. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.)
When the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pointed out that Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan had something going on with a lobbyist for the payday loan industry, it was dutifully noted here. When Jerry Bader of WTAQ was telling a big, fat lie about Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton for which he was eventually suspended, I covered that, too. Larry Craig’s mugshot? Check. We even checked out the Portland, Oregon hotel where Al Gore got his infamous and expensive massage.
But somehow, the Journal-Sentinel and Jerry Bader haven’t had much to say about GOP State Senator Randy Hopper, who is one of the top-tier recall targets and may have one of the more interesting narratives since Dennis right now. I’ve talked about Hopper before because he visited Wausau after only six months in office peddling something that was masquerading as a legislative report on jobs, but actually seemed to be more of a partisan treatise.
Protesters who marched at the home of Wisconsin state senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) were met with something of a surprise on Saturday. Mrs. Hopper appeared at the door and informed them that Sen. Hopper was no longer in residence at this address, but now lives in Madison, WI with his 25-year-old mistress.
Blogging Blue reports that the conservative Republican’s much-younger new flame, Valerie Cass, is currently employed as a lobbyist for right-wing advocacy group Persuasion Partners, Inc., — (You can’t make this stuff up!) — but was previously a state senate staffer who worked on the Senate Economic Development Committee alongside Mr. Hopper. Her bio has been scrubbed from the Persuasion Partners’ website, but a screen-grab is available here*. (Actually, it’s not – so I’m dropping Valerie’s photo in from what we understand to be a public domain source, subject to correction. It’s unclear to me if she is still employed with the firm.)
Sen. Hopper has worked closely with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to implement the state’s new anti-labor laws and enact policies favorable to the interests of big business. Like Walker, Hopper is one of the Republican politiciansnamed in a massive recall effort spearheaded by Wisconsin Democrats.
According to Wisconsin law, state elected officials who have served at least one year of their current term are eligible for recall by voters. Hopper was elected state senator for district 18 in the fall of 2008, making him eligible for recall, whereas Governor Walker will not be eligible until 2012.
Blogging Blue also reports that Mrs. Hopper intends to sign the recall petition against her husband. The petition has already been signed by the family’s maid.
Just to add a little intrigue to all of this, it seems that among its clients, Persuasion Partners represents – you guessed it – Americans for Prosperity. And Senator Hopper reportedly cancelled an appearance at a St. Patrick’s Day parade over the weekend, citing security concerns.
Of course, we are in no position to verify any of this first-hand. All I can say is that the story is pretty much viral, I’m looking for a denial and Wisconsin media doesn’t seem to be touching it – even though it doesn’t appear they’ve made a policy of avoiding such stuff in the past. Moreover, Hopper owns several radio stations, so one would think he could get the word out if he wanted to straighten things out.
In the meantime, Wisconsin Dems have collected more than 56,000 signatures on recall petitions. One would guess that more than a few of them are for Senator Hopper, who may not have much better luck than Mr. Sheridan did when the voters had a chance to unseat him after his questionable relationship with a persuasive partner of his own last year.
UPDATE: The Hopper story began showing up in Milwaukee TV sites late last night. Here’s WISN’s version:
Hometown newspaper frames it as a residency issue? Well, sure but…
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UPDATE: Hopper denies role in state employee’s hire —
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UPDATE: The pay went up $11K for state job, compared to predecessor:
UPDATE: Journal-Sentinel’s Daniel Bice traces Valerie Cass’s path to her current state job:
One Wisconsin Now weighs in and includes a new pic:
Update from Daily Kos – No record of even applying for the job?
Update from Daily Kos – Administration explains salary increase. (Free PR advice: This is one of those rare cases when “No comment” would have probably worked better…):
UPDATE: Former Sen. Randy Hopper arrested for OWI:
UPDATE: Hopper resigns from economic development post following OWI arrest: