A new bill in Wisconsin that promises to promote "Dads' rights" by giving super rich "Dads" the "right" to pay significantly less child support turns out to have been written by (drumroll please): a wealthy male political donor who doesn't want to pay child support!
The bill, which lists its author as Republican Rep Joel Kleefisch (he's from Oconomowoc, a town that only Wisconsinites know how to pronounce), was introduced back in December under the guise that it would help introduce equality into a system that some say unfairly favors women in custody battles.
What kind of a monster would be against giving good fathers access to the children they can proactively and positively help raise? This sounds great!
Except that whole "fairness" song and dance is all a smokescreen for what the bill is really trying to do: get one rich guy out of paying his ex wife for child support the court says he owes.
According to Madison's Wisconsin State Journal, millionaire Kleefisch donor Michael Eisenga and his attorney are the real authors of Assembly Bill 540 which, in addition to all that pretty talk about good dads and equality, would cap child support payments at $150,000 per year, bar judges from taking parents' assets into account in determining child support, and force courts to retroactively lower child support payments if the old payments are 10% or more above what the new payment system would require. Eisenga currently must pay $15,000 per month in child support, earned $1.2 million in 2010 and currently has $30 million in assets.
How do we know that Wisconsin's snuggly-sounding Dads' Rights bill (which has been panned by family law groups in the state) is really just one rich guy who hates his ex wife using his money to throw a tantrum? Because there's an email trail. More from the Journal,
Emails between Eisenga, Smiley, Kleefisch and Kleefisch's aides show the divorced father sought specific language to help his case. [...]
In an email that same day to Kleefisch, Kleefisch aide Ashlee Moore and Jeff Fitzgerald, the former Assembly speaker and now a lobbyist, Eisenga writes, "Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill when she combines them."
The next day, Sept. 6, Moore wrote Pam Kahler, the Legislative Reference Bureau staffer drafting the bill, requesting the changes.
The documents show that Moore and Kahler went back and forth on how to ensure that Eisenga's concerns were addressed without causing all former child-support orders to be reopened.
Time for some child support problems in Ft. Ex- Mrs. Eisenga, amirite?
Turns out, Eisenga had been fighting — hard — against paying child support for his three children. His last failed attempt to have the terms modified happened back in October, just a few months before Kleefisch practically monogrammed the bill for him.
Eisenga has given tens of thousands of dollars to prominent Wisconsin Republicans, including Joel Kleefisch's wife, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.
Assembly Bill 540 will enjoy its first public hearing on Wednesday. Madisonians: look for Michael Eisenga in the VIP section.