If you ever wondered if members of the GOP weren’t living inside the pockets of the rich, then please allow me to direct your attention to one Congressman Joel Kleefisch, our ISBL Asshat of the Week.
Kleefisch, from the great state of Wisconsin and they should be so proud, recently introduced a controversial bill that would allow high-income parents to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in child support.
Yes, because the rich shouldn’t have to pay for anything apparently.
Now, that was, and is an asshatted move, to be sure, but what secures Kleefisch in the ISBL Asshat category is that the bill he introduced was written with the help of Michael Eisenga, a multimillionaire business owner and wealthy donor to the election campaign of the bill’s author, and William Smiley, Eisenga’s attorney.
To top it off, the bill will help Michael Eisenga to force the court to reopen his divorce settlement so maybe he can play less in child support because, you know, he’s rich and why should he pay for anything.
Kleefisch, naturally, is walking back the idea that the bill will help Eisenga lower his child support payments because he’s certain that the bill is not retroactive. However, the bill, if passed, would require judges to lower child-support payments if they are 10% or more above the amount that would have been ordered using the new requirement meaning that certainly Eisenga’s payment would come down so he could keep his money out of the grubby hands of his children and exes.
Court documents show Eisenga, a Columbus developer, owner of American Lending Solutions and the former mayor of Columbus, was ordered to pay $15,000 a month for his three children based on his 2010 income of $1.2 million and assets of $30 million, but Kleefisch’s bill, if passed, and Eisenga's divorce case reopened, would prohibit judges from taking into account Eisenga's $30 million in assets in determining the level of child support he's ordered to pay.
But, back to the bill, and Eisenga’s fingerprints on it.
The drafting record of the proposed legislation includes emails, letters and handwritten notes showing Eisenga and Smiley making numerous suggestions for changes to the bill which would help Eisenga lower his child-support payments. The documents also show Eisenga and Smiley working closely with Kleefisch and his staff to craft the legislation, which will have a hearing before the Assembly Family Law Committee in Wisconsin tomorrow; in fact, there are emails between Eisenga, Smiley, Kleefisch and Kleefisch’s aides proving that Eisenga sought specific language to help his case.
A letter, dated September 5, 2013, from Smiley to Eisenga requests specific modifications to “the portion (of the bill) that would require the court to modify [Eisenga’s] child support order based solely on the passage of this bill.” Then Eisenga sends an email to Kleefisch, his aides Ashlee Moore and Jeff Fitzgerald, which says, in part, “Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill when she combines them.”
The next day Ashley Moore requested the changes.
Kleefisch stands by the bill and denies that its primary goal is to benefit Eisenga:
“I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they give a contribution or not has not made a difference.”
Richard Podell and Michael Collins, the attorneys who represent Eisenga’s former wife in their ongoing child support battles, say that Eisenga made extensive campaign contributions to Kleefisch and other Republican politicians; in fact, Eisenga, along with his former wife, gave $41,750 to several GOP candidates since 2005, and Eisenga has personally donated the maximum amount allowed under law six times to Kleefisch; he also gave $7,500 to Kleefisch’s wife, Rebecca, who is the lieutenant governor.
And Joel Kleefisch signed off on this because … He’s the ISBL Asshat of the Week.