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Maybe the butler did it

Who ordered the hit on the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism?

State Rep. Peter Barca, a Democrat from Kenosha and the Assembly minority party leader, says he doesn’t know. But he’d certainly like to find out.

During a debate Wednesday on whether provisions that have nothing to do with state government finances should be removed from the state’s 2013-15 budget, Barca said he has been consulting his usual sources in an attempt to learn which Republican lawmaker or lawmakers wanted the budget to call for the eviction of the investigative journalism center from its offices on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Given Barca’s prominent position, his sources no doubt run deep and wide. Still, he came up empty-handed.

He said he could discover no evidence pointing to the two Republican chairmen of the Joint Finance Committee, which a week ago tucked the provision into the budget as part of a 12-page motion introduced in the middle of the night.

That meant those who are searching for culprits will have to look beyond state Sen. Albert Darling, R-River Hills, and state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, the latter of whom was singled out in one of the center’s articles for having received donations from the insurance industry amid a push to change the state’s auto insurance laws.

Barca also said he could find no evidence that the eviction provision stemmed from right-leaning websites or conservative radio talk-show hosts. Apparently flabbergasted by the lack of an answer, Barca invited Republicans on the Assembly floor Wednesday to “come clean.”

“Just tell us why it is you don’t want the Center for Investigative Journalism on the UW campus,” he said. “If some you want to raise your hand, I promise I won’t pick on you. It would be very helpful.”

Nobody took him up on the offer. So this particular whodunit remains unsolved.

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