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Government Still Large Enough For Tim Wilkin

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/08/07 22:00

By Christopher Truscott

Gov. Tim Pawlenty must have thought when Grover Norquist said government should be shrunk to the point where "we can drown it in the bathtub" that the anti-tax crusader actually meant government should remain just big enough for out-of-work Republican lawmakers like ex-State Rep. Tim Wilkin.

After he was vanquished by DFLer Sandra Masin, Wilkin, who represented Burnsville and Eagan in the Legislature for eight years, was philosophical about his 55-vote defeat.

"The way I look at it, now I get a raise and a lot less work," said Wilkin, who in recent years was the brains of Eagan's formerly all-GOP legislative delegation.

One would think the "fiscal conservative" meant he'd make more money by being able to focus all of his energy on his insurance business. The governor, however, had another idea.

By making Wilkin the assistant human services commissioner, Pawlenty has given his former State House colleague a $70,629 increase over the $31,140 paid to members of the Legislature. That's a pretty good deal cooked up by two men who toss around pejorative terms like "welfare-health care" when discussing aid for the poorest Minnesotans.

In his re-election campaign last year, Wilkin claimed to be working hard "to keep down the cost of government." As a private citizen, however, he was quick to belly up to the public trough.

Where is the outrage from the Republicans who pounced on former Attorney General Mike Hatch, who turned down lucrative offers from big law firms to continue in the AG's Office despite a pay-cut?

As a member of the Legislature, Wilkin was distrustful of government bureaucracy. Now he's in charge of compliance, technology, building services and equal-rights programs in a major state office. Taking on such a position means Wilkin is either a hypocrite or he's trying to tear down from within what he couldn't completely destroy from his post on the House Health Policy and Finance Committee.

Pawlenty could've done much better than Wilkin. Surely he could've found an equally loyal Republican with a pulse who needs a job.

With issues like health care reform on the agenda this year, putting an anti-government insurance salesman in an important human services position is roughly akin to President George W. Bush naming anti-United Nations zealot John Bolton as America's ambassador to the world body.

To use Pawlenty's own language, Wilkin's new assignment is "profoundly stupid."

If the governor wants his call for a positive "Republican message that is empowering" to be taken seriously, he ought to find a new job for Wilkin. Surely there's another no-salary opening on the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. He'll take a spot on the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission if Wilkin won't.
comments (2) permalink
01/09/07 13:51
Paul Bartlett
01/09/07 12:24

My PioPress LTE from today's paper:

Mere patronage?

What is more rewarding than being a Minnesota legislator? Being a defeated legislator.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has appointed defeated Eagan House member Tim Wilkin to the position of assistant human services commissioner. Sweet deal for Wilkin; his pay jumps from $31,140 to $101,769 per year. Wilkin is a part-time insurance salesman and is ostensibly unqualified for any of his new duties, i.e., to oversee compliance, technology, building services and equal rights.

Pawlenty and Wilkin are Eagan Republican cronies. While Pawlenty likes to pontificate about government accountability, he has brazenly appointed an unqualified crony to fill a high-level ? with high pay ? state job. This is shameless patronage.

If this appointment goes forward, the two Tims from Eagan will face public outrage.


St. Paul

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