Rep. Kleefisch under fire over proposed child support bill

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MADISON (WITI) -- Did a wealthy Republican donor attempt to "buy a bill" in Wisconsin that would help him reduce his child support payments? That's the explosive accusation some Democrats are making.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R - Oconomowoc) is defending Assembly Bill 540 -- a measure which would reduce child support payments for wealthy individuals.

"We believe there should be some child support reform in the state of Wisconsin. We're going to look at that. We're going to continue to look at that," Rep. Kleefisch said.

The bill appears to have been aimed at helping Michael Eisenga -- a multimillionaire businessman and Republican Party donor.

Eisenga was seeking to reduce his child support payments -- currently $15,000 a month total for his three children.

The bill's drafting notes reportedly show Eisenga helped write the legislation and suggested specific changes.

Rep. Kleefish says the bill wasn't written by a campaign donor.

"Legal counsel writes the bills at the behest of the authors. Ever so often, we consult with constituents on writing bills. It's our job. The constituent comes to us with an issue -- they believe, and if we believe it's an area that should be looked at for a law change, then we can write a bill," Rep. Kleefisch said.

Eisenga contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Rep. Kleefisch and his wife, Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor.

"Michael Eisenga was fairly overzealous in his attempts to affect this bill, and I can tell you there were many times that what he wanted was not in the bill," Rep. Kleefisch said.

"It just smells awful.  It should not be seen as politics as usual. This politics in a very disgusting way, and it's something that is not alright," Rep. Sandy Pasch (D - Shorewood) said.

FOX6's Mike Lowe spoke with Rep. Kleefisch, and asked him this question: "(Eisenga) gave $3,500 to your campaign, $7,500 to your wife's campaign, $15,000 to the Walker campaign -- it looks like he was able to buy influence. At least that's the perception?"

"He's a constituent of mine, a former mayor of Columbus when I met with him. I couldn't tell you one way or another when people come to my office if they've given in the past.  That's their right to give, but I can tell you it certainly doesn't matter in the crafting of legislation," Rep. Kleefisch said.

"When people elect their representatives and their senators, they expect them to serve their 55,000 constituents -- not a wealthy donor who wants a favor done, who sits down in a room and says, 'here do this so I don't have to pay more child support for my kids.'  That is really bad," Rep. Pasch said.

"In this specific case, I wish I had made it more clear to Mr. Eisenga that he did not dictate what was going to be in the final bill -- and I learned a lesson and I'll be more careful of that in the future, there's no question," Rep. Kleefisch said.

Rep. Kleefisch withdrew the bill from the hearing because of the controversy, but he continues to defend it based on its merits, and he says he hopes the bill gets another chance to be heard.

8 comments

  • Tim

    Paying child support should have been done by your choice?!? No. Having a child was your choice, not your supporting him/her. If you thought it was emasculating then you need to man up.

    • Cerbico Bolinski

      I repeat this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It is a man’s woman’s issue and likely will not be addressed in the state of Wisconsin again for a long time with the vilification that Kleefish got. So do not worry this law will likely never change in Wisconsin. He is not stupid to loose all his women voters. I am not a Republican or Democrat. I did not vote for Kleefish or Walker. I am prochoice, antigun and pro immigration and think the government should get out of the marriage business (there should be civil unions for all and let the churches marry.. the conservative ones will marry the straights and the liberal ones gays) I feel strongly after 5k/month that CS should be capped as it is in other states such as Texas and Nevada and not at the 12 K/month that I paid at the threat of imprisonment. Child support then in reality becomes mommy support and back door alimony. I see many lawyers are against this change as it would cost them business in high income cases. With all due respect please inform me how it cost 12k/month to raise a kid. It does NOT end of story. I hope for your sake that all your relationships are perfect and you will never have to experience family court or the wrath of a female and her attorney which I had to pay for. I have been there and the laws of Wisconsin and other states are totally in the females favor to trample all over the male. We live in a Democracy and this was an issue that Kleefish tried to rectify and I applaud his attempt. It was unsuccessful and he and others will likely not try it again as it appears to be a third rail issue which could cost him future elections. I do not have to worry about this issue as my ex has been paid her millions, my kid is grown and I will never marry again. You live and learn. Good luck to you Tim.

  • Tim

    In fact as you on the right are so fond of preaching, don’t make the baby if you don’t want the consequences! Although I find that the right’s concern for the child ceases immediately after birth.

  • Roberta Robers

    How much would you have “offered” to pay? What is your childs care and well being worth? As much as your cusfom suit and shoes? Child support isbaswd on the premise that it isnt supposed to be enough for the child ro have the baee minimum to get by on. It is based on what would thw child have if the parents were still together. Obviously, some people have morw than others. If you were still happily with your ex, your child would be experexperiencing those benefits. Now you are divorced. Moms income is greatly reduced by the loss of your portion. Maybe she never worked becausw she was raising your child. Should she only have enough child support to pay for half of the childs clothing or food, education,medical,housing? Wouldnt you be embarrassed to have your child living in mediocre conditions when you do not? Obviously the mom would additionally benefit but isnt that the price of making sure your child is happy and healthy? How much would you pay for a nanny, housekeeper, or education if the child were in your care?The child should come first. Shamevon you!

    • Cerbico Bolinski

      With all due respect. I became a multimillionaire by working 100 hour/wk for the first 30 years of my work career and starting my own business. I still work over 60 hours/wk. I never spent more than 5 K on myself until I was in my mid 40 s as I need the cash flow to fund my business. I bought my first new car when I was 50 a Honda Accord which I still drive. I own 2 pair of shoes a pair of new balance running shoes which I still run 20 miles/wk and a pair of 80 dollar rockports which I replace ever 5 years. I live in a modest condo and still wear the same suit my parents bought me when I graduated from college. I paid for my kids IVY league education and graduate school (which was not court ordered). And yes I would have been proud if she lived at my mediocre conditions. The court awarded her to her mom; her mom took 1/2 of what I made in my 5 years with her bought a huge house and I paid her millions more after that. As she told me when we left the court I am just an arrogant avariciuos piece of sewage so be it. It seems we will just have to disagree about family court laws. It appears that society agrees with you and likely Kleefisch will suffer politically for his attempt to rectify laws which I feel are unfair. This is unfortunate.

  • brad

    a person’s rights should start at conception and never end. I agree with child support being back door alimony, no matter the payment amount, all it ever goes towards is the spouses needs, whether or not those needs are for the child. All child support should be for imho is school tution to the age of 18 and healthcare.

    My wife works 60/wk and I work 40, do you think that I’d get custody of the children if we were to separate? hell no. even though I do the majority of the childcare and housework, I’m the one the kids run to when they get hurt or scared or need advice or just want to talk. I’m still a male, and that’s just how it works.

  • Gary Swiech

    Cerbico Bolinski,

    How did you make your Millions? What business are you in?

    What did you do/or didn’t do to your wife and child to make her divorce you?

    It sounds to me your wife was right when she called you,” an avaricious arrogant piece of sewage.

    Keep making your millions and pay up. You brought your child into this world and you have responsibilities that go with your actions.

    These are consequences for your actions.

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