What do Republicans have against the Center for Investigative Journalism?

2013-06-05T13:15:00Z What do Republicans have against the Center for Investigative Journalism?JACK CRAVER | The Capital Times | jcraver@madison.com madison.com

It's typical for non-fiscal policy to be shoved into the state budget at the last minute, but the policy items are usually at least somewhat predictable. They are often provisions that have long been sought by a monied special interest or an ideological group.

But who cares if the tiny Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism uses two rooms at Vilas Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

Apparently state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee. He and co-chair Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, introduced a motion prohibiting the UW System Board of Regents from allowing the nonprofit from occupying any facilities owned or leased by the UW. The motion, which the committee passed early Wednesday morning in wrapping up a marathon budget session, also prohibited any UW employees from doing work for the center.

Currently, the center has a "facilities use agreement" with the UW-Madison School of Journalism, in which it gets access to two rooms in exchange for collaborating with UW professors to teach J-School students journalism skills and for hiring UW students as paid interns.

In an email to the Romenesko media blog, executive director of the center, Andy Hall, expressed shock over the move.

"We were blindsided by the action of JFC, the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. Oddly, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism doesn’t receive direct state funding. Its $400,000 budget is supported by private foundations, individuals and news organizations."

Greg Downey, director of the J-School, says the proposal, which will be part of the budget that the Legislature takes up in coming weeks, threatens a valuable relationship that has benefited the university community and the state.

"As written it would seem to broadly and recklessly infringe on our academic freedom in terms of research, teaching, and service. Our faculty and staff regularly collaborate with outside organizations on media-related projects in terms of research, teaching, and service."

The source of the idea to target the Center for Investigative Journalism — whose articles are often used by newspapers throughout the state, including the Cap Times — is unclear. However, since its inception several years ago, some on the right have grumbled that the nonpartisan group is largely funded by George Soros' Open Society Institution. Soros is a billionaire businessman and philanthropist who supports many liberal causes.

Nygren may have some hard feelings toward the center. In 2011, an article by the center's Kate Golden described a push by the lawmaker to make changes to auto insurance law favored by the insurance lobby. The article highlighted the donations Nygren had received from insurance interests.

Later, Golden wrote a column describing a battle with Nygren over open records. The center had asked for all correspondence between the legislator and constituents over the proposed insurance bill. Nygren complied, but redacted the names of those who had sent letters about the legislation. After much debate between the two sides, Nygren finally released the names, which showed that most of the people contacting him to support the law were insurance agents.

A spokeswoman for Nygren did not respond immediately to a request for comment. 

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(47) Comments

  1. bluffsinview
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    bluffsinview - June 08, 2013 6:32 pm
    Whenever someone exposes the nefarious deeds of Wisconsin's Republican legislators or governor, right-wingers immediately change the subject. Funny how that happens. How does it feel to have on blinders?
  2. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - June 06, 2013 10:20 pm
    You are about as independent as an automaton. You are one of those people who believe in the concept of free will, but are incapable of understanding how that will is formed shaped and controlled.
  3. Nav
    Report Abuse
    Nav - June 06, 2013 12:20 pm
    Once again, neither party is perfect. The only point I am making, and I think most readers on here would agree with me, is that NO Democratic state administration has brought this level of division in our state, NO Democratic state administration has taken our state to 44th in job creation. NO Democratic state administration has taken us to 49th in economic outlook.

    You need to let go of your obsession with unions (they are no longer in the news), and instead see if you can dispute what the article says!
  4. Norwood44
    Report Abuse
    Norwood44 - June 06, 2013 12:06 pm
    Nav. Unlike you, I am an independent, and independent thinker. I stated that Walker and Fitzies are a problem. I didn't compare the degree of the problems between the Dems and the Reps. It's an interesting notion. All I stated was that the Dems are also bought and paid for by political cash to an even criminal degree. Research the amount of money public unions pumped into Wisconsin Democratic campaigns over the last forty years. Do you really think they didn't expect something for those millions and millions? Then talk to me about how wonderfully clean the Dems are. If you can't get your brain around the reality of money in Wisconsin state politics for BOTH parties, then I can only assume that NAV is short for NAIVE.
  5. davea
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    davea - June 06, 2013 11:15 am
    You mean like Mr. Harding below!
  6. pete
    Report Abuse
    pete - June 06, 2013 9:53 am
    look, I get that you're frustrated that the obama legacy is going down faster than Michael Douglas, however you seem to be twisting my facts for your own spin. I never said that obama was responsible for 4 Americans dying in Benghazi, the lies that were told following the incident is where someone on his "entire staff" who made that educated decision needs to tell the American people the truth.

    as for the leaks, wasn't it this administration that leaked it's own "kill list"? Less partisan huh, I was agreeing with Arianna Huffington this morning for crying out loud, how much more un-FOX can it get?

    I've been having these discussions with people on the left for years, I enjoy the exchange of view points and don't have a problem admitting if I was wrong or if my facts were incorrect. I've also stated in many posts that I am not nor do I have the need to be the smartest one on these boards, however the discussion you and I are having this morning is fact based and unless you can prove me otherwise (which it appears you can't since the "FOX" response is all you have) I will continue on with my points that this administration is on pace to be the most intrusive and deceitful that we have ever seen in a generation or more. Prove me wrong and I will be the first to admit and acknowledge it.
  7. Nav
    Report Abuse
    Nav - June 06, 2013 9:25 am
    Hey Pete he is doing what is legal under the Patriot Act which I thought YOU supported! By the way, he cannot listen in to an ordinary citizen's conversation!
  8. Nav
    Report Abuse
    Nav - June 06, 2013 9:22 am
    Norwood44, most people know that when you compare what the Republicans are currently doing to out state with a few mistakes some Democrats MAY have made in the past, the record is very clear. Democrats NEVER divided this state like the Republicans have, and never placed our state in 44th position in job creation and 49th position in economic outlook.

    So, please stop making ridiculous comparisons on these blogs. By the way, I believe you are a very big fan of the Governor and his policies based on what you often write about, but nice spin!
  9. PennyWise
    Report Abuse
    PennyWise - June 06, 2013 9:09 am

    I have no issue whatsoever with ordering the deaths of terrorism suspects, whether us citizens or not. If Romney were running things we'd be in more wars with no objective of leaving. After all, wars are money in the bank for him and the defense contractors.

    Do I think reporters who expose 'leaks' jeopardizing the safety of us citiizens abroad (read, spies) should be exempted from laws. Hell no. Report the truth but realize that reports have impacts. If you got the story illegally, you are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

    You do spin the truth. You try hard to make it look like Obama and only Obama are taking liberties with Americans. What you are seeing is the entire staff and government making educated suggestions that are acted upon by the government. Do I think Obama is responsible for Benghazi? Give me a break.

    Are you shocked that I am an independent who believes that traitors should die and don't fill your world view of , as you put it, lefties? Well, guess what. I read and research the news and don't feel the need to follow carefully crafted Fox messages like you. Perhaps you should be a little less partisan and go back to being a little bit more American.
  10. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - June 06, 2013 9:09 am
    I am not a big fan of Walker and the Fitzies. But the holier than thou protestations of some of the Dem rads on this board are hard to take. Chvala went to prison. Doyle played very weird games with the state budget and was quick to exact political revenge. The notion that Dems are pure as the driven snow is just wrong. Unions paid good money to purchase the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Now that dynamic has changed and everyone who fed at that trough has their undies in a bundle. There are no saints in politics. None.
  11. pete
    Report Abuse
    pete - June 06, 2013 8:51 am
    @pennywise - here's another story from this morning from the CBS affiliate in DC. (no reference to FOX)

    "Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing."

    Spin??? Really??? you would be screaming from the mountain tops for Romney to be impeached if he were doing the same things. if burying your head in the sand makes these things go away for you, I won't stop you.
  12. pete
    Report Abuse
    pete - June 06, 2013 8:45 am
    and a pound foolish - all of those wide sweeping laws you refer to, the left wanted bush thrown in jail and obama decried them at every campaign step along the way. What did he do?? He EXPANDED the programs. What spin are you referring to? These are facts.

    I have no problems with the drone strikes unless of course they are killing innocent civilians, (which they are) it was wrong if it happened under bush and it's wrong now. you seem to be missing the point (big shock).

    as for the IRS, they admitted targeting conservative groups, not sure how that's being paranoid? Maybe you can help me out.

    Look, I get that you and many of your ilk are conflicted, this guy promised you so many things and has come through on very few. And now you feel like those of us who have been critical of mr hopey changey are rubbing your nose in it and that's simply not true. You say I've been throwing "crap against the wall in hopes something sticks" for 5 years. Maybe you could point out some of the things you are referring to....

    btw, the fox things is getting really tired. if that's all you can muster for a response to the facts being brought to light here then maybe it's time to tap out. btw, do me a favor and show me the last time I referenced an article or story from FOX. fwiw, The Verizon story was on Morning Joe this am, you know, the MSNBC show.
  13. PennyWise
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    PennyWise - June 06, 2013 7:58 am
    So you believe that drone strikes, which keep more Americans from dying in Bush's war, are bad things? You believe that although Faux News attornies knew about the phone record investigation before it started is the Left's fault? You believe that things the IRS have done are directly traceable to the Left (call you paranoid....sure, why not)? The NSA issue is due to orders directly from Bush's regime....you remember all those wide-sweeping laws allowing law enforcement to do what they want? You should, you voted him in.

    So don't talk about 'truth' when all you're talking about is 'spin'.

    If you take 5 years of throwing crap against the wall in the hopes something will stick you're a pretty poor American. But I've seen that in your comments and those of your fellow 'I know what's right for you, I'm a republican and heard it on Fox' posters.
  14. pete
    Report Abuse
    pete - June 06, 2013 7:46 am
    hey nav, do you have verizon????? HE can hear you now.....isn't that comforting?

    The left has painted themselves into such a corner on all of this, for 5+ years all we've been hearing is that if you criticize the president you're a racist. Now he's monitoring their phone calls and they can't say a thing...priceless.
  15. Cornelius Gotchberg
    Report Abuse
    Cornelius Gotchberg - June 06, 2013 7:31 am

    Shame on you! Lefty can't be bothered with all that minutiae when they're feverishly trying to spin away how it's OK for Michelle Obama to bully a gay woman.

    I imagine it will eventually take up residence under the BigTop "Republican War on Women."

    @Nav; can we get a ruling here?

    The Gotch
  16. gkmoynihan
    Report Abuse
    gkmoynihan - June 06, 2013 7:21 am
    Gets views from Maddow.
    Hurling rhetorical dung
    Illiterate? Yes.
  17. pete
    Report Abuse
    pete - June 06, 2013 7:09 am
    FOX News
    300 indiscriminate drone strikes compared to less than 50 under Bush and now this:

    "The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

    The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

    The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."

    and the coffee clutchers on these boards have the seeds to criticize this??? Remember back in 2007 when the left was ready to throw bush/cheney into jail over the Patriot Act?

    phonies to the core
  18. MadCityYokal
    Report Abuse
    MadCityYokal - June 06, 2013 5:55 am
    Pay [back] Dirt:
    When does "work" get done?
    When do we reveal ourselves?
    The Heart of Darkness.
  19. Cornelius Gotchberg
    Report Abuse
    Cornelius Gotchberg - June 06, 2013 5:36 am

    Wow; that transcends cosmic! Was that bumper sticker from which you read that on the back of a Toyota Pious or a Chevy Volt?

    Were it on the back of the latter, signature Car of the Obama Administration, it better be made out of fire retardant material.

    The Gotch
  20. Cornelius Gotchberg
    Report Abuse
    Cornelius Gotchberg - June 06, 2013 5:10 am

    "here's hoping a "hopey changey" thing comes to you, mr. crotchberg, or should i say, "the crotch".

    What is a "hopey Changey" thing? Is that where the press drools over my every waking moment, where Lefty doesn't question my corrupt Administration, or when they do they're RAAAAACISTS?

    If that's what it is, I'm in. When can I expect someone to start airbrushing and hiding my past, lying about my present, and getting all weepy about my future?

    @RePubeLicken, & @ArchieBunker;

    You can tell you're over the target when you're catching flak!

    The Gotch
  21. motherlode
    Report Abuse
    motherlode - June 05, 2013 11:13 pm
    Revenge for something.
    That's what I love about this regime.

    Absolutely ruining our state.
  22. Bender
    Report Abuse
    Bender - June 05, 2013 10:59 pm
    Facts have a notorious liberal bias.
  23. Bender
    Report Abuse
    Bender - June 05, 2013 10:59 pm
    You should consider getting an editor.

    Or a clue.
  24. mckraken
    Report Abuse
    mckraken - June 05, 2013 10:53 pm
    like thieves in the night
  25. Lorenzo
    Report Abuse
    Lorenzo - June 05, 2013 10:52 pm
    Apples and oranges.
  26. gkmoynihan
    Report Abuse
    gkmoynihan - June 05, 2013 10:45 pm
    Sort of like you trying to find "Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!" on a map?
  27. kooler
    Report Abuse
    kooler - June 05, 2013 10:36 pm
    here's hoping a "hopey changey" thing comes to you, mr. crotchberg, or should i say, "the crotch".
  28. kooler
    Report Abuse
    kooler - June 05, 2013 10:32 pm
  29. gkmoynihan
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    gkmoynihan - June 05, 2013 10:02 pm
    What do Progs have against the MacIver Institute or Fox News?

    Good Lord, for all the heavy breathing you Progs have had over the eeeevil Kochs you'd think you'd have the minimal self awareness to recognize the corresponding conservative concern about "Jew Hunter" Soros funded journalists.

    "Loobers" in particular has been particularly odious. His one sided reportage on the Bradley fists-of-fury incident demonstrated definitively that he's nothing more than an ideologue.
  30. Norwood44
    Report Abuse
    Norwood44 - June 05, 2013 8:51 pm
    Pretty petty and vindictive. On the other hand, this makes it easier for the Center to be objective re the UW and other gov stories. For instance, the Adidas issue, the animal research issue etc., or further stories on Nygren? Isn't it best if the Center is free from any encumbering relationships, state or otherwise, to do their work, much like the CT and WSJ? Renting two rooms won't be too costly and students can still work with them, as they do at both Madison papers.
  31. Maerzie
    Report Abuse
    Maerzie - June 05, 2013 8:37 pm
    Well, duhhh? If you were a Republican, would you want anybody investigating all YOUR dirty tricks and fraudulent activities??
  32. JAlfredPrufrock
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    JAlfredPrufrock - June 05, 2013 8:04 pm
    Amen Warren.
  33. ArchieBunker
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    ArchieBunker - June 05, 2013 7:48 pm
    Meathead definition - dead from the neck up.
  34. Cornelius Gotchberg
    Report Abuse
    Cornelius Gotchberg - June 05, 2013 6:46 pm

    "Ya baby! Lets hide everything from the public..."

    Are you describing the "most transparent Administration EVAH?"

    That would be the Hopey Changey Administration, the one that accepted an award for transparency in a ceremony closed to the press. From the Uber-Conservative HuffPo:


    Think he used the same teleprompter he used to talk to sixth graders? Smartest guy in the room? Lemme think about it.


    This from the self-proclaimed 4th Best President EVAH. You think the 3 ahead of him would rise or fall in order had they the opportunity to use a teleprompter?

    This stuff just kind of writes itself!

    The Gotch

  35. midwestguy
    Report Abuse
    midwestguy - June 05, 2013 5:02 pm
    Who better than a ruling party with an unapologetic pro-corporate agenda to determine which groups with UW affiliation should have the ability to audit their own Machiavellian plans? Anyone who defends this action is as rotten as the action itself.
  36. DaTruth
    Report Abuse
    DaTruth - June 05, 2013 4:20 pm
    I wonder if the IRS ever audited the WCIJ? Demanded their donor's list? Asked them what prayers they prayed? Handed over income tax returns of their donors to Rush Limbaugh? Demanded they answer, "will you or your donors ever run for public office," under the penalty of perjury?

    Probably not.
    Report Abuse
    GOOD DOG HAPPY MAN - June 05, 2013 4:17 pm

    Who do they think they are ....... the IRS ? (spells, theirs, but for the record, it isn't)

    Karma. What goes around ..... comes around ?

    Chicago-style politics swing like a pendulum do.
    Proggies on bicycles two-by-two.

  38. digger
    Report Abuse
    digger - June 05, 2013 4:05 pm
    "Stuff" runs down hill. This is an order from Rock Star himself which runs down from the top. Follow the rainbow, from the state capital to the Koch's Cottage!
  39. witness2012
    Report Abuse
    witness2012 - June 05, 2013 4:04 pm
    In the debate over this item, which happened about 5:30 am this morning, since the Republicans chose to adjourn between 3:00 pm and 1:30 am, Nygren said that if the university doesn't give facility space to the NacIver Institute or Media trackers, then it's wrong to give any use of facilities to the Center for Investigative Journalism.

    In other words, he put a reputable, responsible, award-winning journalism center on the same level as right wing, propaganda mills. And, because the center has written articles critical of how this administration conducts business, he assumes that they are slanted to the left and should be silenced.

    He's only hurting future journalism students who will lose the opportunity to learn their trade by not having access to the Center for Journalism. The Center will survive- it is quality journalism and we need it more than ever now.
  40. RichardSRussell
    Report Abuse
    RichardSRussell - June 05, 2013 3:37 pm
    "What do Republicans have against the Center for Investigative Journalism?"

    I'd guess it's about 50-50 whether it's the "investigative" part or the "journalism" part.

    They're probably still trying to figure out the meaning of the word "center".
  41. irisK
    Report Abuse
    irisK - June 05, 2013 3:29 pm
    I agree, the Republican Legislators are the biggest moochers of all. Using our hard earned money that we pay in taxes for their car fare, meals and hotels. Along with their full time pay for part time work.
  42. PennyWise
    Report Abuse
    PennyWise - June 05, 2013 2:59 pm
    Is this a serious question? If it is, google the Institute and their backers and their mission statement.
  43. Lynne4300
    Report Abuse
    Lynne4300 - June 05, 2013 2:31 pm
    What do democrats have against the MacIver Institute?
  44. shoes11
    Report Abuse
    shoes11 - June 05, 2013 1:54 pm
    I'm just wondering how long it's going to take for the average person to awaken from their self induced Walker coma before too much damage is done to the quality of living in WI.
  45. toobad
    Report Abuse
    toobad - June 05, 2013 1:50 pm
    Other than being taxpayer moochers, nothing.
  46. Civil_Citizen
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    Civil_Citizen - June 05, 2013 1:46 pm
    The current legislative Majority is hands-down the most vindictive group I've ever seen in State politics.
    Basically, if you don't agree with them or you get in their way, they'll take you out.
  47. Nav
    Report Abuse
    Nav - June 05, 2013 1:43 pm
    COULD IT BE that they don't want their actions not to be investigated and prosecuted? If there is another reason I am all ears!
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