OTR Interviews

AWOL Wis. Democrat on Budget Bill's Passage: 'This Is Not What Democracy Looks Like'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There's breaking news in Wisconsin. Senate Republicans just pulled the rug out from underneath the senate Democrats and the unions. So now what? Democratic Wisconsin State Senator Spencer Coggs joins us on the phone from an undisclosed location. Sir, now that there has been a vote in the senate, can you at least tell me where you are or perhaps even tell me whether you're in Wisconsin or Illinois?

STATE SEN. SPENCER COGGS, D-WIS. (Via Telephone): Oh, no, we're all in Illinois still. And I got to tell you, this is not what democracy looks like. You asked the other senator how much notice is supposed to be given, it's usually a 24-hour notice, OK? And there was no 24-hour notice. There was no draft of the bill in front of anyone on that conference committee. And so 18 Republican senators stole democracy from the people of the state of Wisconsin today.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you say that, usually, that's 24-hour notice. That doesn't necessarily mean that that's what the rule requires. And I still haven't gotten an idea of whether the rule is specific about how much notice must be given. But certainly, sir, I mean, you can't be surprised by the Republicans doing this. There's been the threat that they were going to sever out the collective bargaining and vote separately. So you must have known this was coming.

COGGS: Oh, no. We never knew that they would go ahead and attempt to steal democracy from the people and then close the capitol so that the people would not have a voice to speak. I mean, this is unheralded. In all these years, you know, we've never had an incident like this, where they would just, you know, take democracy from the people. And yet in one night, one day Republicans stole democracy from the people, the workers ...

VAN SUSTEREN: Wait. You say -- sir, I'm having a hard time understanding this "steal the democracy" aspect. If they are lawfully elected, if they followed the rules, and if you got outmaneuvered because you're a couple hours away and if they didn't violate the notice requirement and if they could sever out the collective bargaining from the statute without any sort of legal impediment, you just got outmaneuvered, at least tonight.

COGGS: No, they ... but they did not do it legally. That's what I'm saying. We're saying that...

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is it?

COGGS: ... legally, they did not notice (INAUDIBLE) and they didn't notify Senator Miller of the meeting. He was supposed to be in this committee meeting [and] they didn't notify him in time for him to get back.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, here's what the senate chief clerk, Rob Marchin, writes. And I don't know if he's a Democrat or a Republican or if he is someone who's just -- who's a public employee on neither side.

But what he says, what he wrote, is that "There was some discussion today about the notice provided for the legislature's conference committee. In special session under Senate rule 93, no advance notice is required, other than posting on the legislative bulletin board. Despite this rule, it was decided to provide a two-hour notice by posting on the bulletin board. My staff" -- this is the senate chief clerk's staff -- "e-mailed a copy of the notice to all legislative offices at 4:10 PM central time, which gave the impression that the notice may have been slightly less than two hours. Either way, the notices appears to have satisfied the requirements of the rules and statutes."

And that's by Rob Marchin. Is he a Republican or is he someone who is a civil servant in Wisconsin with no party affiliation?

COGGS: No, no, he's neutral. But as you just said, they did not follow the constitution. They didn't give the even two-hour emergency notice. And they didn't notify my office.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'm not going to -- I mean, I'm only telling you what he says. He says that notice appears to have satisfied the requirements. He doesn't say for certain, but he says it appears to have satisfied the requirements of the rules. So I take it that will be a battle. So what is the sort of -- what is the collective plan for the senate Democrats now in light of what's happened tonight? What are you going to do?

COGGS: Well, we're going to see what happens in the assembly. Then we're going to have a game plan on how we take back democracy. We're going to join the people of the state of Wisconsin and take back democracy because they are mad as hell. It's not ... they're mad as hell. They're not going to take this anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you say, take back democracy, what does -- what do you -- I'm having a hard time understanding specifically what you're going to do. Are you going to -- is it to seek recall of Republican senators, try to get them bumped from office? Is that what you mean?

COGGS: Oh, yes, recall [is] part of it. We think that the electorate in the state of Wisconsin is so mad that at least eight Republicans will be recalled in a short fashion. Twenty-seven percent of the signatures (INAUDIBLE) weekend. Twenty percent of the signatures were collected against (INAUDIBLE) weekend. (INAUDIBLE) nothing but snowfall, and so Republicans now are in trouble because the people have awakened. They have awakened a sleeping giant.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any reason whatsoever for you not to return to Wisconsin now?

COGGS: Well, once again, we're going to see how the assembly treats this bill. Then we're going to, as the "Wisconsin 14," come together and make a decision on how we take back democracy with the people of the state of Wisconsin.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. And of course, we'll be watching this because this is quite a fascinating story, and a very serious, important one to the people of Wisconsin, as well. Thank you, sir.

COGGS: Thank you.