Committee Questions School Board Member on Recent Political Ad Appearance
Karin Rajnicek asked to clarify her position publicly following appearance in television ad supporting Gov. Scott Walker.
To clear up any confusion about her recent appearance in a political ad supporting Gov. Scott Walker, Waukesha School Board Member Karin Rajnicek was asked to publicly state that the viewpoint presented in the television ad was solely her opinion.
The issue was brought up during last night’s meeting of the School Board policy committee, which is comprised of Rajnicek and school board members Ellen Langill and Barbara Brzenk.
Langill, chair of the policy committee, asked Rajnicek to state for the record her compliance with school district policy 8300, which dictates school board members must say they are presenting their own personal view when speaking to the public or the press.
“That would bring you in conformity with (policy) 8300, and I think that would mean that our policy is being carried out,” Langill said.
Rajnicek said that all the documents published with the video had the disclaimer stating it was her opinion but that she hadn’t realized she hadn’t said “in my opinion” in the video until later.
“I did not realize … that I did not say, ‘In my opinion,’” she said. However, she said she checked with people at the Capitol and was told that she didn’t do anything wrong.
“I did not say I was with the Waukesha School Board,” Rajnicek said.
But Langill said that it wasn’t their policy but school district policy that was in question.
Rajnicek said that if she were to do it over, she would say the same thing again and that the only regret she has is the backlash school board members have received because of her political activities. Langill and Brzenk said after the meeting that they, along with other board members, have received calls, letters and emails about Rajnicek’s appearance in the video.
“I stand by what I said. The only thing I am sorry for is that people have lashed out at you … and our other board members. That was never my intention. It’s a constitutional right that we have freedom of speech,” Rajnicek said, who also said Langill was putting her on the spot.
Langill said she still has the freedom of speech and the policy is not a gag rule and is necessary to keep the non-partisan nature of our board intact.
“I accept your apology but I think that it really needs to be publicly stated, which you are doing now for the record, that you are speaking only for yourself and not the school board,” Langill said.
Brzenk suggested that Rajnicek in the future state that she’s speaking in her own opinion and avoid using the words “we” and “us.”
“I realize that you never said Waukesha School Board but it’s very easy to identify you with the Waukesha School Board …. I would avoid using the words 'we' or 'us' because we never collectively discussed or agreed on what you said,” Brzenk said.
About having to say “in my opinion,” Rajnicek said that during the candidate forums last spring when running for the school board, none of the school board incumbents said “in my opinion.”
Langill said that in candidate forums, it’s generally assumed that what is said by the candidates isn’t the opinion of the full board and so might not be the same problem but that it’s something they should be conscious of going forward.
In addition to the original ad, which did not air in the Milwaukee area, Rajnicek has recently been appearing in another ad shown on Milwaukee-area television. That ad is not available yet online on Walker’s campaign site.