In a letter (PDF) to a colleague, Rep. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater) accuses Madison law enforcement agencies of fanning the flames of political dissent during the protests this year, and says he will oppose any reimbursement payments to them from the state.
"There is no debating that Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Sheriff Dave Mahoney and Police Chief Noble Wray made significant decisions to ignore the appropriate duties of law enforcement and instead directly encourage a specific partisan political outcome during this government crisis," Nass wrote to Rep. Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat, on August 16.
"These actions or inactions triggered a reliance on state law enforcement agencies and other local law enforcement agencies from around Wisconsin to provide assistance to the Wisconsin Capitol Police Department," Nass continued. "These expenses could have been reduced or even eliminated, if the Madison Police Department and the Dane County Sheriff's Department hadn't been limited in their duties by partisan local officials."
Nass was writing in response to a news release (PDF) Berceau issued in which she said the additional security costs for the Capitol during the protests were incurred as a result of Gov. Scott Walker's "paranoia toward the people of Wisconsin."
A Dane County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman did not return calls and emails for comment about Nass' letter. Wray declined a phone interview, but issued a response (PDF) through his spokesman, Joel DeSpain, saying: "Chief Wray has consistently maintained that members of the Madison Police Department will protect the rights of its citizens while maintaining peace and order."
Wray said the Madison police have a good relationship with Capitol Police: "Anytime Chief [Charles] Tubbs needs our help, we will be there to back up his department."
The statement clarified that Madison Police do not have jurisdiction on the Capitol Square itself and go there only when requested by the Capitol Police.
"The mission of the MPD has been -- and will continue to be -- the protection of the First Amendment. We want the Capitol Square, and other areas of the downtown, to be places where people can feel free to voice opinions on heated and contentious issues," the statement reads. "Officers look to treat everyone the same: regardless of political party, place of employment, or position on the state budget."
The state has calculated that costs for providing security during the months of protests is more than $8 million. Madison is asking to be reimbursed $682,842 for services it provided, including $555,098 for police, $37,719 for fire personnel, $79,148 for Metro Transit and $10,876 for use of the fire department's command center. The state expects to pay Dane County $534,081.