UPDATE: Suder out, Stone in at PSC as Dems cry foul - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Suder out, Stone in at PSC as Dems cry foul

MADISON (WKOW) -- Former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder will not be going to work for Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin).

Just weeks after Suder accepted a position as the Public Service Commission's Division Administrator for Water, Compliance and Consumer Affairs, the Governor awarded the same job to a different Republican lawmaker on Thursday and it was announced Suder will instead be taking a job as a lobbyist.

Suder has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, as several stories linked him closer and closer to United Sportsmen.  That's the group Suder helped engineer a $500,000 grant for in the state budget to promote Wisconsin's sporting heritage.

The Governor ultimately rescinded that grant, but a spokesperson in his office there says that had nothing to do with Thursday's changes.

In the course of a few minutes, 27 News learned Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) was retiring from the Assembly and taking the PSC job that was supposed to go to Suder.

"That, really wasn't any part of the conversation," Rep. Stone told 27 News.  "It was really about - is this something that I would like to do, at the Governor's request?"

Just after Stone's appointment was announced, the Wisconsin Paper Council put out a release saying it had hired Suder as its Vice-President of Government Relations.

"Well, I mean, the timing is just too coincidental for it to be a matter that this just happened to come about," said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), when asked about the changes.

Rep. Stone says he has no reason to believe the controversy over Suder's ties to United Sportsmen led to him getting the job at the PSC.

"I think that's a question I don't have any ability to answer," said Rep. Stone.

But the Governor's office did answer questions related to that issue.  A spokesperson put out a statement that reads:  "During Scott Suder's initial discussions with PSC, he mentioned this other opportunity may present itself, and it did.  We wish him well in his new position in the private sector."

"The whole thing is just so suspicious, it smells to the high heaven," responded Rep. Barca. "And I just believe that this last minute shuffle of personnel and musical chairs is because they know there are some raging bonfires behind that smoke."

But Rep. Barca will miss Rep. Stone in the Assembly, saying he was a Republican who was not afraid to work across the aisle during his 15-year tenure.

Rep. Stone's last day will be October 14th and he is expected to start at the PSC shortly thereafter.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Scott Walker announced a sudden change in his staff Thursday afternoon.
In an email, the Walker Administration announced the Public Service Commission has named State Representative Jeff Stone as its new Division Administrator for Water, Compliance and Consumer Affairs. 
"Jeff Stone has served the people of Wisconsin well for the last 15 years," Governor Walker said in a statement.  "I thank him for his work in the Legislature and look forward to working with him in his new role."
Rep. Stone will replace embattled former Republican legislator Scott Suder at the state Public Service Commission.

Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder resigned from the Legislature in August to take a $94,000 job as the PSC's water division administrator. Shortly after he accepted the job news broke that he funneled a state hunting recruiting grant to a politically connected group.

The Wisconsin Paper Council announced Suder has accepted a position with them as vice president of government relations and will start on October 7.

Rep. Stone, of Greendale, announced Thursday he will resign on October 14. A few minutes later the PSC released a statement saying Stone will become the next water division administrator.

Stone told 27 News Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann the Walker administration contacted him just a few days ago about job at PSC, and that the issue of Suder already having the job never came up, except to say that Suder had found work elsewhere.
Stone has represented the people of the 82nd Assembly District since winning a special election in April 1998. 
27 News Capitol Bureau chief Greg Neumann will have more on this change of plans for the Public Service Commission in 27 News at 5 and 6.
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