The paper reported that Ryan had been one of several congressmen pushing for the legislation and had signed a letter in support.
Troha, in the interview, said the bill benefited the entire hauling industry, and his former attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, said Ryan’s help was appropriate. “I’d like to think that every person can call their congressman and say, ‘I’ve got a bill that I’d like your help with,’ and if it doesn’t have any illegalities or immoralities connected with it, of course they’re going to help a constituent,” Gimbel said.
Ryan said he supported the measure because he thought it was good public policy and told the Milwaukee paper that he was unaware that Troha stood to gain financially, calling it “extremely inappropriate.”
The then-U.S. attorney in Milwaukee, Steven Biskupic, issued a statement at the time saying federal investigators were looking into the legislation, along with donations from Troha and his family to Ryan and two other congressmen. Biskupic declined to comment Saturday.
It is unclear how far that part of the federal probe progressed, but people familiar with it said there was no indication Ryan was aware that he was receiving problematic contributions.
When John W. Erickson, a top Troha associate, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in September 2007, court documents said he, Troha and other alleged conspirators had directed illegal contributions to more than 20 politicians. Troha and others had “identified public officials who supported Indian gaming and/or the relaxation of restrictions on interstate trucking,” prosecutors wrote.
The only politician identified by name in the documents as having received contributions from Erickson was Ryan.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.