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After reports of billing for foreign trips surface Commerce head resigns

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce is without two of its top three leaders as it keeps trying to prop up a faltering economy.

Wednesday, Jack Fischer, commerce secretary, said he would resign amid reports that he billed taxpayers $21,000 for three foreign trips this past spring.

The department's No. 3 official, Chandra Miller-Fienen, became Gov. Jim Doyle's legal counsel last week.

Aaron Olver, deputy secretary, will be in charge for now.

He's not sure when the other top jobs will be filled.

Fischer's resignation takes effect Friday.

He got heat over the last week and ahalf, amid reports that he spent $555 a night at a hotel overseas, and he often spent $80-plus on his meals.

He also took the unusual step of taking his administrative assistant with him. Deborah Godt will keep her job.

Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner said the governor did not force Fischer out the door.

He worked in his family business as an architect in Appleton before taking the commerce job last November. Fischer says he'll go back to the private sector.

Some legislators were steamed that he spent so much while a tight state budget is forcing others to pinch pennies.

Rep. Steve Wieckert, R-Appleton, was disappointed Fischer quit. He said business people who join the government often have no idea of the public scrutiny they'll face and they've got to have thick skins.