Randal B. Hopper
|Member of the Wisconsin Senate|
from the 18th district
January 3, 2009 – August 9, 2011
|Preceded by||Carol Roessler (R)|
|Succeeded by||Jessica King (D)|
|Born||January 23, 1966|
|Residence||Fond du Lac, Wisconsin|
|Alma mater||Denison University|
|Occupation||Broadcasting/radio station ownership|
Randal B. "Randy" Hopper is a former Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 18th District from 2009 until losing his seat to Jessica King in a 2011 recall election. The 18th District includes the cities of Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Waupun.
Early life, education and career
Born in Taylorville, Illinois, Hopper graduated from The Hill School. He then received his bachelor's degree from Denison University in 1989 and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2002.
Hopper is the co-owner of Mountain Dog Media, a radio station and broadcasting company that owns two Fond du Lac radio stations, KFIZ (1450) and WFON (107.1). In addition, Mountain Dog owns WCLB (950) in Sheboygan, which runs mainly automated programming from Fox Sports Radio. WCLB is run from MDM's Fond du Lac offices, and no staff is maintained in Sheboygan. He also operated New Holstein's WMBE (1530) in the same arrangement as WCLB, but with advertising meant for a Fox Cities audience. The station was sold to another party in late 2011, who terminated MDM's operating agreement and took the station silent to move it closer to Appleton as WLWB.
Hopper showed strong support for Governor Walker's 2011 budget, which removed certain collective bargaining provisions for state and local government employees and made significant cuts to state budget and many programs. According to Hopper, the business climate would improve as a result of these Republican policies.
Hopper sat on the following committees 2011-2012:
- Economic Development, Veterans and Military Affairs (Chair)
- Energy, Biotechnology, Consumer Protection
- Joint Committee on Finance
- Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions (Co-Chair)
Court records indicate Hopper filed a petition for divorce in August 2010. In a letter to Milwaukee television station WTMJ, Hopper's estranged wife Alysia wrote: "It is correct that my husband, Randy Hopper, started an affair in January 2010 with a then-25-year-old Republican aide. This affair has caused great emotional pain for my children and me. Randy moved out, without attempting marital counseling, as of May 2010 and now lives mostly in Madison."
Hopper's alleged mistress, Valerie Cass, was reportedly hired on February 7, 2011, by the State of Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing as a limited-term communications specialist. Her salary was $5.35 per hour higher ($11,000 on an annualized basis) than that of her predecessor, explained by increased duties, professional experience, and relevant credentials. The limited-term position ended in August 2011. Hopper denied he had had any role in the hiring.
Hopper was subject to an active recall effort. On March 2, 2011, the "Committee to Recall Hopper" officially registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. 15,269 valid signatures of electors residing within the 18th district had to be collected by May 2, 2011 to generate a recall election. His estranged wife reportedly signed his recall petition.
A March 9, 2011, poll by Survey USA showed that voters in Hopper's district would vote for recall by 11 points. A March 10–13, 2011, poll by PPP (sponsored by Daily Kos) showed that voters in Hopper's district disapprove of his job performance 47-38 and support recall by 11 points. When asked if they would vote for Hopper or a generic Democratic candidate, Hopper trailed by 5% with 44% saying they would vote for Hopper again and 49% saying they would vote for the Democratic candidate. He was seen as particularly vulnerable to recall, considering that his victory in the 2008 election came only after a mandatory recount; the margin of victory was 163 votes.
On March 29, 2011, it was reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the recall organizers appeared to have enough signatures to force a recall election. On April 7, 2011, organizers filed 23,946 signatures to recall Senator Hopper with the Government Accountability Board in Madison.
On April 13, 2011, Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King, who lost to Hopper by 163 votes in 2008, announced she would run against Hopper in a potential recall election.
In late May 2011, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified petitions against Hopper, and scheduled the recall election for July 12, 2011.
Jessica King defeated Hopper in the recall election 28,188 to 26,937.
In October 2011, Hopper was arrested on a charge of drunk driving. In December, he pleaded not guilty and his jury trial started March 22, 2012. During his trial Hopper's attorney, Dennis Melowski, argued that county employees, including the arresting officer, "were out to get him". On March 23, 2012, a jury found Hopper not guilty.
According to reporting by the Fond du Lac Reporter, Hopper paid state income tax once in the period between 1997-2008. The three businesses he owned paid no net income tax during the same period.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2009). State of Wisconsin 2009-2010 Blue Book (PDF). Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. p. 54.
- "Ownership Report for Commercial Broadcast Stations". Federal Communications Commission. December 21, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
- "Randy Hopper: 2011-12 Committees". State of Wisconsin. 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Kottke, Colleen (March 14, 2011). "State Sen. Randy Hopper not residing at Fond du Lac home". Fond du Lac Reporter. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "GOP Senator's Wife Claims He No Longer Lives In District". Madison, Wisconsin: WISC-TV. March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Trevey, Mick (March 15, 2011). "Capitol Chaos: Was State Senator In Affair?". Milwaukee, Wisconsin: WTMJ-TV. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
- tgalli (March 22, 2011). "State officials defend worker's big pay raise". Madison, Wisconsin: WKOW. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- tgalli (March 18, 2011). "Salary boosted for worker with ties to Hopper". Madison, Wisconsin: WKOW. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- tgalli (March 16, 2011). "Hopper denies role in state employee's hire". Madison, Wisconsin: WKOW. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
- "Committee to Recall Hopper". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. March 9, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Black, Eric (March 15, 2011). "Wisconsin senator's wife plans to sign recall petition against him". MinnPost. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- "Fond du Lac Senator Faces Recall and Scandal". Sheboygan, Wisconsin: WHBL. March 15, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Bice, Daniel (March 14, 2011). "Hopper recall effort turns ugly". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Sargent, Greg (March 10, 2011). "Poll: Majorities support recall of two Wisconsin GOP senators". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- Nir, David (March 15, 2011). "Wisconsin recall: 3 GOP state senators trail Generic Dem, more at risk". Daily Kos. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Associated Press (March 15, 2011). "Complaint filed with AG's office against GOP Sen. Hopper". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- Sargent, Greg (April 7, 2011). "Recall momentum continues: Dems collect huge number of signatures to recall Randy Hopper". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- Tolan, Tom (April 7, 2011). "Signatures filed to recall Sen. Randy Hopper; more possible". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- "King announces she will challenge Hopper in Senate recall election". Fond du Lac Reporter. April 13, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "GAB Clears Way For 3 GOP Recall Elections - Politics News Story - WISC Madison". Channel3000.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20111019/GPG0101/111019033/Complaint-Ex-senator-arrested-drunken-driving-says-he-did-nothing-illegal |newswell|text|GPG-News|s
- Hopper Scheduled for Jury Trial Archived 2012-09-05 at Archive.today - www.nbc26.com
- "Ex-state Sen. Randy Hopper to face OWI trial in March". Appleton Post Crescent, December 15, 2011.
- "Former Wisconsin Senator Randy Hopper says at drunken driving trial officer was out to get him because of collective bargaining vote". Appleton Post-Crescent. March 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "OWI trial: Hopper says county employees were out to get him". Fond du Lac Reporter. March 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Daniel Bice (March 22, 2012). "Ex-senator offers tearful testimony at OWI trial". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- Roznik, Sharon (October 24, 2008). "Hopper fends off tax questions". The Reporter.
- Hopper, Alysia (October 31, 2008). "Hopper opponents have taken low road in Senate campaign". The Reporter.
- "Fall General Election – 11/04/2008; State Senate, District No. 18 – Recount" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. November 26, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "August 9 recall election results". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. August 9, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011.