Last October, Wisconsin State Representative Bob Kulp (R - Stratford) was caught promoting his roofing company on his official state social media sites:
Bob Kulp is clearly proud of his Ford F-150. He tweeted a picture of the truck when it got new labels for his roofing company. He leaned against it for a Facebook snapshot. And this month, he tweeted a selfie with its logo-covered door.
Nothing unusual for a business owner in the digital age — except Kulp is an elected member of the state Assembly and the pictures of his truck were shared on social media via his legislative office's accounts.
State ethics laws forbid legislators from using government resources or their official positions for personal advantage, and violations could result in heavy fines. Yet over the past two years, the central Wisconsin lawmaker has often posted material referencing his roofing work on social media feeds that appear on his legislative website.
Beyond featuring his truck in social media posts, Kulp has shared pictures of a past project completed by his roofing business, the interior of his Stratford office and coworkers visiting the state Capitol. Two pictures of his truck have shown the company's phone number.
The Republican-created ethics panel jumped to action and really gave it to Kulp - a severe finger wagging he won't soon forget:
State authorities found "reasonable suspicion" last month that a central Wisconsin legislator violated state ethics laws, but he won't be referred to prosecutors or face other penalties, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has learned.
State laws forbid legislators from using government resources or their official positions for personal advantage. Violations can result in heavy fines or prosecution. Or, as in Kulp's case, authorities may issue a warning rather than seek prosecution.
I hope that the ethics panel wasn't too harsh on Kulp. We wouldn't want him to have his fee fees hurt just because he violated the law. After all, he was just being a good Republican and trying to profit off of his office a little.