A Case For Courage

Posted by Terri McCormick On May - 17 - 2013

For the support of this Declaration … We mutually pledge …our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
—the “courageous fifty-six,” the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 1776

Terri McCormick's What Sex is a Republican?It is our turn to put our government back on the right track. Whether you are a citizen leader, voter, political junkie, candidate or member of the press, this book lifts the curtain from the political stage and empowers all of us to change the way things are. Government is all of us, and together we are the “New We.”

As I walked into the Committee Hearing Room on the second floor of the state capitol, I felt the eyes of senate leaders from both political parties dart around the room in panic. As though in a game of chicken, daring the opposing party to go faster, both political party leaders understood that there could be consequences if all of their actions were exposed to the light of day. Many leaders were offended and caught off guard by my bold attempt to support an ethics bill that had little chance of being brought up for a vote.

Little did they know that on January 25, 2005, the public was watching, the editorial boards were watching, and a brand new day was about to be born in American politics.

“Good morning,” I began. “My name is Representative Terri McCormick, and I am here this morning to testify as the lead house author for Senate Bill 1; the Government Accountability Board and Ethics Reform legislation.

“Mr. Chairman, committee members of the Joint Committee on Finance: Thank you for allowing me to testify before you today on this very important piece of legislation. As you are no doubt well aware, legislators from both sides of the aisle have recently pled guilty to using their legislative offices as campaign headquarters, using taxpayer money to win reelection, and using positions of leadership to solicit campaign contributions from special-interest groups in exchange for action on legislation.

“The caucus scandal, combined with years of increased spending on pork projects and special-interest legislation has gradually eroded our state’s reputation as a “clean government” state. In fact, $800 million was appropriated in road projects by both political parties, over and above the Department of Transportation requests in the most recent state budgets.

“Further, a survey from the Policy Research Institute in our state found that only 6 percent of our residents believe that their elected officials are putting their interests ahead of large special-interest groups. And that was before the public was made aware that dozens of U.S. representatives have received millions of dollars in illegal contributions and favors from lobbyists.

“I am honored to be the House Lead on Senate Bill 1, a bill that will merge the State Ethics and Elections Boards into a new Government Accountability Board. For the first time, this agency will have an enforcement division that is empowered to investigate violations and bring civil criminal actions to enforce the elections, ethics and lobbying regulation laws of this state.

“We must all be held accountable to the same legal standard as the citizens we represent.”

My testimony before the Joint Committee on Finance put the business-as-usual crowd on notice that their legislative counterparts were not playing by the same rules. Rank-and-file politics and followthe- leader intimidation tactics did not apply. Unfortunately, the business-as-usual crowd in the GOP were not paying attention to their hometown newspapers or to my testimony. They certainly were not listening to their constituents back home.

Newspaper editorials and headlines across the state and nation carried a unified voice and call for the end of corruption and the payto- play system that paralyzed the political process. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article on January 1, 2006, titled “To Play You Paid, Lobbyist Reveals,” giving a detailed account of how the system worked with SBC/Ameritech personal checks of $40,000. Washington’s The Hill, on January 11, 2006, disclosed an insider corruption story, “The Year of Abramoff,” detailing a list of bipartisan corruption, naming political leaders and staff members who took bribes, used public monies for personal use and took illegal campaign

contributions. A Gannett paper in Wisconsin at that time wrote a series of opinion pieces on the need for ethics reforms. One such article was “When Will We Get Reform in the Capitol?” Representative Stephen Freese was quoted in that opinion piece: “Felony convictions, emerging scandals and voter discontent are shaping up as the ‘perfect storm.’ We must do our best to improve the public perception of the legislature and Wisconsin government.”

Roger Utnehmer, president and general manager of the Door County Daily News wrote: “Terri McCormick joins a small group of Republicans who understand Wisconsin voters deserve better than the partisan defense of the corrupt status quo you hear from leaders in her party like the Speaker. Members of the Republican Party would be wise to look to others who support clean government for leadership, men and women of conscience like Terri McCormick and others.” Another excerpt was written by a known GOP political insider who flippantly dismissed the right for “free elections” and the voters’ right to choose its own candidates in a Love ’em or Leave ’em editorial comment. Unfortunately, his naïve words would begin a movement by the voters that would cost the GOP the general election in 2006:

“When ostensibly Republican McCormick supporters attack the GOP leadership for interfering in the 2006
primary—President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others who have not been proven guilty of their charges—they don’t seem happy with anyone. If they dislike the GOP leadership figures so much, perhaps their goals and agenda would be better served in another political party.”

What Sex Is a Republican? Stories from the Front Lines of American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are challenges and equips each of us—citizen, candidate and media alike—to stand up and change the way things are. “We the People” must ask ourselves, “What kind of nation have we become?” Then it is our collective responsibility to change it. I intend to make the case for a new kind of leadership and policy-maker to step forward to serve on all levels of government.

In fact, all of us are needed to make our political processes and government work. All of us create a bold three-columned foundation for American integrity—first as citizens who must be more involved and better-informed voters, volunteers and consumers of the political process; second, as a responsible and ethical press, entrusted as truth-tellers within the fourth branch of government; third, as integrity candidates, who must earn the public trust and take to heart the responsibilities of public office under our nation’s contract with our people, the U.S. Constitution…

To continue reading this chapter, get your copy of “What Sex is a Republican in paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon.

About the Author:

Terri McCormick is an author, policy expert, educator, and former state representative to the Wisconsin State Legislature. Today, she offers her expertise in public and government relations through McCormick Dawson CPG Ltd., a trusted consultancy of independent contractors.

Ms. McCormick serves as president and CEO of the company, drawing from more than two decades of professional experience, a strong educational foundation, a host of industry-related publications, and a multitude of accolades, awards and formal recognitions. Holding a Master of Arts in administrative leadership from Marian University, and a Bachelor of Science in political science and public administration from the University of Wisconsin, Ms. McCormick received both degrees with high honors.

“What Sex is a Republican?” is sold on Amazon in both the paperback edition as well as Kindle editionRead reviews on Amazon here.

Terri McCormick honored for excellence in government relations by Cambridge's Who's Who industry experts