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Mark Kastel: Hosting Pence was an ethical lapse

Mark Kastel: Hosting Pence was an ethical lapse

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As a de facto owner of the Dairyland Power Cooperative (by virtue of my membership in Vernon Electric co-op, I take great exception to the management’s decision to apply our resources in support of partisan political campaigns.

Not only did Dairyland sponsor Vice President Mike Pence’s visit and photo op, virtually every local Republican candidate, up and down the ticket, made an appearance.

I am not a Democrat. I’m an Independent. This is not about politics, but rather about business ethics.

The management time, employee resources and equipment on display were all diverted from their appropriate legal purposes and I will be asking the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to investigate whether that was a violation of the law.

If Democratic candidates had appeared, rather than Republicans, I would have the same concerns. I imagine that conservative members of Dairyland would object, as well.

It’s always a smart move for businesses to stay out of partisan politics. But when the business is a cooperative, and there is support for both parties among the membership, it equates to a real ethical lapse in judgment.

Mark Kastel, La Farge

Editor's note: Here is a response from Dairyland Power Cooperative:

Dairyland Power Cooperative accepted a White House request for an official visit from the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on Labor Day.

Dairyland is a nonpartisan organization. We do not endorse candidates. We do regularly welcome elected officials of all parties and value our ability to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle.

Dairyland is proud of our employees and the critical service they deliver every day, providing safe, reliable electricity in the region. We are especially appreciative of their extraordinary efforts to “keep the lights on” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A visit from a sitting vice president on Labor Day, highlighting our exceptional workforce, was offered to employees who chose to attend. Dairyland would be honored to receive an official White House visit during any administration, without regard to party affiliation.

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