One Wisconsin Now Blog

Jim Troupis: Know Your Republican MacIver Institute Board Member

Now that the Republicans have opened the MacIver Institute, yet another GOP front group to go with the Wisconsin Public Research Institute, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, Wisconsin Institute for Leadership, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, Coalition for America’s Families, Club for Growth, All Children Matter, Americans for Tax Reform, Wisconsin Family Council and School Choice Wisconsin (whew), One Wisconsin Now thought it might be good for the media to have information on exactly who the leaders of this Republican operation are.

Cory Liebmann did some phenomenal investigation as the group readied its launch. One of the key figures surrounding this new organization is former Assembly Speaker, Republican Scott Jensen. Jensen, who was convicted in the so-called caucus scandal and currently spends his time making money from pro-privatizing public education forces.

After Liebmann’s reporting, the nubie MacIver Institute took immediate steps to “distance” itself from Jensen’s reported leadership.

So a quick bio on Jim Troupis, a MacIver board member and partner at the Michael, Best and Friedrich law firm.

• Troupis was hired at taxpayer expense to serve as the 2002 redistricting lawyer for Scott Jensen and his then-majority GOP Assembly caucus. It’s not the first time Troupis had this role, as he served as a lawyer 10 years earlier for then-Assembly Republican leader, Jensen political mentor and current Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. Jensen hired Troupis to represent Assembly Republicans with 17-month agreed retainer of staggering $120,000 a month. In the end, Jensen and Troupis spent over $1 million of taxpayer money to try and muscle through a pro-GOP legislative boundaries map.

• Troupis served as attorney for scandal-plagued Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler in her infamous ethics investigation where she was given a first-ever admonishment by her peers on the Supreme Court. Ziegler, as One Wisconsin Now’s research unearthed, repeatedly ruled on cases in which the bank where husband was a paid member of the board of directors was a party to the case. Ziegler ruled repeatedly in favor of the bank without letting parties to the cases know her enormous glaring conflict.

• Troupis helped then-unknown lawyer Mike Gableman circumvent the merit selection process and gain his Burnett County judgeship. Troupis was the head of McCallum’s legal selection committee. One Wisconsin Now’s investigation showed that Gableman gave then-Gov. McCallum $1,250, made fundraising calls from his taxpayer-funded office for a fundraiser for McCallum and then was tapped by McCallum to be a judge – all in direct contrast to the claimed selection process Troupis was in charge of administering. Gableman, now a Supreme Court Justice, remains under investigation by the Office of Lawyer Regulation for this potential violation of the legal code, which could result in his disbarment. Eric MacLeod, a fellow Michael Best lawyer like Troupis, is Gableman’s defense lawyer in this and in his ethics imbroglio over the racist ad Gableman ran in his Supreme Court race.

• Troupis is a donor to the legal defense fund for Jensen, established to pay for legal bills for Jensen's felony misconduct in office case. Jensen was found guilty in the case and is currently appealing the felony conviction. Michael Best was paid $180,000 with taxpayers dollars by Assembly Republicans to advise them in the scandal.

MacIver promises a “fresh and innovative approach to advance the idea that individual freedom, limited government and personal responsibility….” Blah, blah, blah, I stopped paying attention…

I’m sure we all look forward to the innovation used in selling the same garbage GOP message of lower taxes for the rich and business, less regulation and accountability for corporations that violate workers’ rights and foul our air and water and land as if they are the sole owners.

My guess is they’ll do it the way they always have. They’ll buy TV ads to smear progressives or they’ll get any number of pro-corporate media sycophants to report their skewed reports as reputable data.

Or maybe, like the Wisconsin Institute for Leadership, they’ll issue their own “awards,” like WIL did with GOP Rep. Brett Davis a fellow shill for private school advocate K12, Inc. WIL's 527 received its one and only contribution, $50,000, from K12, Inc.

(Incidentally, we at One Wisconsin Now, oft-refer to the WIL award as the “Second Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Excellence.”)

Whoa. Maybe they’ll do all three. Using the internets.