Democratic events in

Pierce County and beyond

MarchMeeting
Tuesday, February 19
6 PM Social Hour
7 PM Meeting Begins 

Junior's Restaurant & Tap House,
Legacy Ballroom
414 S Main St, River Falls


Agenda:

Take a quick look at the new: 

ICYMI: Eric Hovde Tries to Hide His Out of State Ties; Gets Called Out for Only Moving to Wisconsin When He Wants to Run for Office

February 20, 2024, MADISON, Wis. — As California bank owner Eric Hovde enters the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, new reporting from Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailed how Hovde tried to hide his out-of-state property and the fact that he only comes to Wisconsin when he wants to try to buy a Senate seat.

Read more below:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bice: Eric Hovde transferred $2.3 million D.C. house to his brother in August

By Dan Bice

Madison multimillionaire Eric Hovde had a few things he had to get done before jumping in the race against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

1. Get his business affairs in order. 2. Hire a campaign team. 3. Dump his house in Washington, D.C.

Real estate records show that Hovde, 59, and his wife, Sharon, transferred ownership of a $2.3 million home on the northwest side of the nation’s capital to a trust headed by Hovde’s brother and longtime business partner Steven Hovde in August.

A spokesman for Eric Hovde, a Republican, said the beneficiaries of the trust are his two daughters. Hovde and his wife had purchased the house six years earlier.

The move to transfer the property came three months after the Journal Sentinel reported that Hovde and his wife had paid nearly $7 million in 2018 to buy a luxurious hillside estate in Laguna Beach, California — more than three times what Hovde paid for his Madison house on Lake Mendota. Hovde, a banker and real estate mogul, leads financial institutions in Wisconsin and California.

Arik Wolk, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said Hovde always seems to be buying and selling properties around the time he is deciding whether to run for U.S. Senate from Wisconsin.

“As a California bank owner who’s spent his career living and working out of state, Eric Hovde has a long record of putting the ultra-wealthy, like himself, ahead of middle-class Wisconsinites,” Wolk said.

Hovde moved to the Madison area in 2011, shortly before his first Senate bid.

Throughout his 2012 campaign, Hovde was dogged by charges that he was a carpetbagger, accused by his opponents of having moved to Wisconsin only so he could win a Senate seat. He dismissed the charge.

Between 1987 and 2011, he and his wife resided in Washington, D.C. But in October 2011, the couple paid $1.75 million for a house on Lake Mendota in the village of Shorewood Hills.

At the time of the purchase, Hovde — a University of Wisconsin graduate — said a possible political run “was a factor” but only one of many in his decision to return to Wisconsin.

In December 2012, just months after losing the Wisconsin primary, Hovde purchased a 10,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style house in the Kent neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The house had 10 bathrooms, seven bedrooms, four fireplaces, and a detached art studio.

Hovde weighed whether to make a second bid for Baldwin’s seat but decided against it in April 2018.

Three months later, the government of Nepal bought Hovde’s D.C. house for $6.8 million, making it one of the largest Washington, D.C., real estate transactions in 2018, according to the Washington Post.

A month later, Hovde and his wife bought a new D.C. home, paying a little more than $2.3 million for the place on the city’s northwest side. It currently is valued at $2.8 million by Redfin.

In May 2022, Eric and Sharon Hovde each set up a separate qualified personal residence trust that owned half the house. These trusts allow the owners to hold onto a piece of property for a certain length of time before turning it over to beneficiaries with reduced gift and estate taxes.

Records show that Hovde informed D.C. election officials to take him off the voter rolls on Aug. 14, 2019, because he no longer lived in the city. He has cast his ballot in Wisconsin for years but has a spotty voting record.

February 14, 2024

Power for Power's Sake

by Senator Jeff Smith

The best way for anyone in power to hold onto power is to change laws and limit public participation. We have seen that strategy played out many times for over a decade in Wisconsin.

Maybe the most obvious was when Tony Evers was elected as Governor, defeating the incumbent Scott Walker, and Josh Kaul was elected Attorney General. Both Evers and Kaul are Democrats and the gerrymandered Republican majority in the legislature went right to work to limit their powers. They called a lame duck session of the legislature in December of 2018 before Governor Evers and Attorney General Kaul were sworn in to weaken their powers through law changes. This set the stage for an uneasy relationship between the governor and the legislature which has not served anyone well.

Voters in Wisconsin have had only one option to try and stop this continual power consolidation. Voters have shown up and elected Democrats in almost every statewide election over that timeframe since. The result may not always show in legislation, but it sure does show in the jittery behavior of the Republicans who still control the legislature.

I’m sure you have heard the news about the Wisconsin Supreme Court that ruled the current legislative districts are unconstitutional and ordered new maps to be drawn. That ruling has Republicans frantically trying to do everything possible to hold onto power despite voters continually rejecting their agenda. They are using every trick up their sleeves to maintain their gerrymandered majorities in the Senate and Assembly.

I’m sure by the time you read this there will have been even more shenanigans attempted since I submitted this column. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the schemes and angles Republicans have come up with almost daily.

While desperately clinging to gerrymandered maps, Republicans have found another way to stop voters from toppling their nearly 30 year control of the legislature. They are taking aim at our state’s constitution. Constitutional changes are introduced as resolutions to bypass the Governor’s veto pen. Once a resolution passes twice by both houses over the course of two consecutive sessions, it goes directly to voters in a referendum. It’s a cynical way to govern by changing our constitution for short-term political maneuvers.

While you will see several of these constitutional questions on your ballot over the course of this year, there is one I still hope we can stop. It is an attempt to permanently and effectively limit the way we conduct elections in Wisconsin.

Republicans are advancing a resolution to ban ranked choice voting in our constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 94 (SJR 94) was heard at a public hearing in the Senate Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection committee last week. It is a direct response to a bill I have championed for two sessions called Final Five Voting (FFV).

Keep in mind that if we were to adopt a change like FFV it would be in statutes which can easily be amended or even removed through future legislation if it doesn’t provide the improvements to our elections we hope it would. Republicans are so afraid of losing power they will go to great lengths to protect the status quo. You know, the status quo that has resulted in a Congress that can’t pass a budget or get anything meaningful done.

During the public hearing, SJR 94 attracted a lobbyist to come from Texas to testify that Wisconsin should change our constitution to their liking. I asked why lobbyists from other states should be so interested in interfering with how we vote in Wisconsin. We didn’t get a satisfactory answer, only that they think it’s a bad idea. Gee thanks for your concerns, Texas.

Everyone should be alarmed by political leaders actively attempting to derail any chance for change. We don’t need to agree on everything, and we shouldn’t, but we should all stand together against schemes that entrench power and limit our choices through misguided constitutional changes.

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Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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For more from Senator Smith, go to his website at:
https://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/31/smith/.

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