Scott Walker

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Key Stories on Scott Walker

See the newest reports from the Center for Media and Democracy and PRwatch.org on the long-running investigation into possible criminal campaign finance violations by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign and "dark money" electoral nonprofit groups.
This special report corrects the record on the John Doe investigation and explains the threat it poses to the future of a representative and transparent democracy, in Wisconsin and across the country.
Complaint alleges group at center of Walker probe lied to IRS about political activity and violated its tax-exempt status, based on extensive new evidence.
"With three tough statewide election victories under his belt, Walker, 47, is poised to pursue the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The Kochs have pledged to marshal some $900 million to spend on a fight for the presidency, and although they may not wade directly into the GOP primary muck, their ties to Walker appear stronger than to anyone else considering a run."
"In addition to unprecedented budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin (UW) system, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker struck "the search for truth" and the Wisconsin Idea from the university's mission in his executive budget bill unveiled last night." (Story updated February 5, 2015.)
  • Scott Walker John Doe Documents, archive of publicly available documents on the two “John Doe” criminal investigations involving Scott Walker and his associates.

Latest News on Scott Walker

"Acknowledging that #Koch has become a dirty word for voters across the political spectrum, brothers Charles and David are now desperately trying to rebrand themselves as "socially liberal" in advance of the 2016 elections."

Since January 2011, Scott Walker has been the Republican Governor of Wisconsin. In February 2011, Walker eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public employees putting an end to 50 years of Wisconsin law and tradition. He also proposed steep cuts to the state budget. These changes prompted massive protests which received national and international coverage.

Contents

2016 Presidential Race

Center for Media and Democracy Sues Walker for Unlawfully Withholding Documents

On May 19, 2015, The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a lawsuit against Walker for "unlawfully withholding public records related to his office’s alteration of the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement and the "Wisconsin Idea" contained in Wisconsin statutes."[1] CMD was the first media outlet to break the "Wisconsin Idea" story.[2] CMD made a public records request to Walker's office in their investigation into the process of removing the core philosophy from the University System's mission and received some documents, but others were not handed over citing "deliberative process privilege." CMD argues that "deliberative process privilege" is "not recognized under Wisconsin’s strong public records law."[1] Lisa Graves, CMD Executive Director, commented on the filing,

“Walker's response to CMD's disclosure of his attack on the Wisconsin Idea included a rare series of stumbles and retractions.The governor stumbles again with this denial of our lawful open records request. The denial is nothing short of an effort to circumvent Wisconsin's proud tradition of open government,”[1]

Walker Doesn't Presently Support a Palestinian State

Following a recent trip to Israel, Scott Walker came out in opposition of a Palestinian state in an interview with Wisconsin Eye, although he didn't rule out supporting one in the future.[3] When asked about Palestinian statehood, Walker supported Israel over Palestine,

"I support—as presidents of both parties have, and Congress members and others—a two-state solution, ultimately. I thought this before going there, and I see it even more, they're not ready for that right now. The security risks are very real, and I think going forward there's got to be a way to have secure borders for the state of Israel itself."[3]

If Elected President, Walker Signals that He Will Pursue a National Right-to-Work Law

In an appearance on Radio Iowa on April 25, 2015, Walker stated that a national right-to-work law is needed.[4] During the interview with O. Kay Henderson, Walker stated, "As much as I think the federal government should get out of most of what it’s in right now, I think establishing fundamental freedoms for the American people is a legitimate thing and that [a national right to work law] would be something that would provide that opportunity in the other half of America to people who don’t have those opportunities today."[4]

Right-to-work policies undermine unions by preventing them from negotiating contract provisions that require all workers, including non-members, to contribute to the costs of worker representation on the job. Right-to-work laws encourages workers to "free ride," gaining all the advantages of the union contract without paying a share of the costs of collective bargaining and worker representation. So-called "right to work" laws do not create a right to have or hold a job, and should not be confused with the "right to work" as described in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.[5]

Walker Stakes Out Most Extreme Position on Immigration of All Potential Presidential Candidates

After reversing his support for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers in the United States, Walker came out in support of limiting legal immigration in an interview with Glenn Beck on April 20, 2015.[6] This is a major shift in stance on immigration policy in just a matter of weeks. In what has been characterized by the conservative press as a "pro American worker" position, Walker said,

"In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying—the next president and the next congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages, because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to Senator Sessions and others out there—but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today—is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward."[6]

MSNBC reported that, "Walker’s remarks widened a growing divide in the 2016 field between Republicans like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul who want to expand the party to voting blocs outside their base, especially Latinos, and those, like Walker, who see riling up the party’s older and whiter conservative base as the key to general election success."[7]

His comments on immigration with Glenn Beck were called an "Olympics-quality flip-flop" by Liz Mair, former online communications director for his campaign.[8]

Koch Brothers Declare Republican Candidate "Should Be Scott Walker"

Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, told Republican donors in New York on April 19, 2015 that Walker is their man for President.[9] "We will support whoever the candidate is," David Koch said, "but it should be Scott Walker," according to an account in The New York Times.[10] Koch said, "Scott Walker is terrific and I really wish him all the best. He’s a tremendous candidate to be the nominee in my opinion," as reported by the New York Daily News.[11] (According to CNN, he later stated, "I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for president at this point in time.")[12]

Since starting to cover Walker and his Koch backing in 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy has identified at least $11.6 million in support for Walker from the Kochs and their affiliated groups, plus millions more in indirect funding.[9] The Kochs and their political network plan to spend $1 billion during the 2016 presidential elections.[13] See more under Relationship to Koch Industries below.

Read more about the Kochs' support for Walker in CMD's article, "Koch Brothers Declare Scott Walker is Our Man," on PRwatch.org.

Walker Backs Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Free Trade Agreement

In a speech at the Hannover Messe trade show on April 14, 2015 in Germany while on a European trade mission, Walker supported the passage of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement.[14] According to his office, "The Governor noted that the TTIP has the potential to promote the international competitiveness of the U.S. and create jobs and economic growth through increased economic ties with our largest trade and investment partner (Europe)."[15] The AP reported that Walker believes the passage of TTIP will benefit his sons and other young people, “Their generation will ultimately grow stronger, I believe, when we approve a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”[16]

The TTIP has been heavily criticized for being a "full-frontal assault on democracy" because it will give corporations the power to sue governments, particularly when they lose money.[17] Through the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) as part of the agreement, transnational corporations will be able to "dictate the policies of democratically elected governments."[18] Lee Williams of the The Independent writes,

"ISDSs are already in place in other bi-lateral trade agreements around the world and have led to such injustices as in Germany where Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for billions of dollars over its decision to phase out nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Here we see a public health policy put into place by a democratically elected government being threatened by an energy giant because of a potential loss of profit. Nothing could be more cynically anti-democratic."[18]

President Obama says Walker should "Bone Up on Foreign Policy"

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on March 25, 2015, Walker stated that he would roll back President Obama's Iran nuclear deal on day one if elected President,

"...the concept of a nuclear Iran is not only problematic for Iran, and certainly for Israel, but it opens the doors. I mean, the Saudis are next. You’re going to have plenty of others in the region. People forget that even amongst the Islamic world, there is no love lost between the Saudis and the Iranians. And so they’re going to want to have a nuclear weapon if the Iranians have a nuclear weapon. This is something that just escalates right before our eyes. And the fact that this administration began these discussions essentially conceding that they’re going to allow enrichment to go forward with the Iranians just shows you that they don’t have the same level of concern that I think I and Senator Rubio and many others out there have, that a nuclear Iran is a problem for the entire world, not just for Israel."[19]

Walker made this comment after saying back in February of 2015 that "I don't think it's wise to undermine the president of your own country."[20]

When asked to comment, President Obama criticized Walker's position and lack of foreign policy experience in an interview with NPR's "Morning Edition" on April 7, 2015, "It would be a foolish approach to take, and perhaps Mr. Walker — after he's taken some time to bone up on foreign policy — will feel the same way."[20]

Walker Ignores State and Federal Campaign Finance Law

In the John Doe Investigation which has gotten little attention outside of Wisconsin, a bipartisan group of prosecutors allege that the Walker campaign illegally coordinated fundraising and expenditures with Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) during the 2012 campaign to recall Gov. Walker. While coordination between candidate campaign committees and independent groups is prohibited, WiCFG director R.J. Johnson was also Walker's campaign manager when the state faced a series of nine recall races after the passage of the 2011 union-busting Act 10 legislation. Representatives of the Walker campaign or the dark money groups could face civil or criminal liability if prosecutors find that they conspired to evade campaign finance disclosure requirements and contribution limits. (The U.S. Department of Justice recently settled a criminal campaign coordination case in Virginia.)[21]

In his run for the White House, Walker continues to exhibit total disregard for campaign finance law, says the Campaign Legal Center in a complaint filed before the FEC this week.[22] The complaint alleges that Walker is now a candidate according to federal law because he referred to himself as a candidate publicly and is reserving donations for a presidential run.[22] Therefore, he is "currently violating candidate registration and reporting requirements, contribution limits and restrictions, as well as federal “soft money” prohibitions."[23]

“These 2016 presidential contenders must take the American people for fools—flying repeatedly to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with party leaders and voters, hiring campaign staff, and raising millions of dollars from deep-pocketed mega donors, all the while denying that they are even ‘testing the waters’ of a presidential campaign. But federal campaign finance law is no joke and the candidate contribution limits kick in as soon as a person begins raising and spending money to determine whether they’re going to run for office. Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker appear to be violating federal law,” Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel, stated on the filing of the complaint.[23]

Veteran Reporter Isikoff Details Pay-to-Play Allegations, John Menard Donates More than $1.5M in Secret

Michael Isikoff reported in Yahoo! Politics on March 23, 2015 that John Menard donated over $1.5 million in secret to the Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 and 2012.[24] WCFG is at the center of a John Doe criminal probe into possible illegal campaign coordination with Walker's campaign. The contributions "were uncovered among hundreds of emails and internal documents seized by state prosecutors" during the investigation. According to Isikoff, the donations appear to have benefited Menard and his company: "In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records."[24] In addition, the state Department of National Resources has backed off Menard's company under Walker, though "The agency had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes."[24]

Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation that investigates money and politics, commented upon hearing of the secret contributions:

“This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the dark-money world we live in...Here’s somebody who obviously has issues before the state, and he’s able to make a backdoor contribution that nobody ever sees. My sense is [political] insiders know about these contributions. It’s only the public that has no idea."[24]

A Menards spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by U.S. News & World Report, which also described Walker's response:

"'I haven't engaged in any of that and there's going to be lots of stories going forward,' Walker said before walking away as an aide told reporters that he would not take questions."[25]

In addition to Menard's donation, Isikoff also found through his investigation that the following people made large donations in secret to the WCFG,[24]

  • David Hanna, $50,000
  • Bruce Kovner, $50,000
  • Donald Trump, $15,000
  • Ken Langone, $50,000
  • Stephen Cohen, $1,000,000
  • Keith Colburn, $50,000
  • Richard Colburn, $50,000
  • Paul E. Singer, $250,000
  • Barry Maclean, $100,000

A Pattern of Governing by "Bombshell" and Reversals

As he runs for president, Walker and his allies are promoting him as a straight-shooter. “He has a plain-spoken way that is totally relatable. He says what he's going to do and does it,” Mark Block told Bloomberg News in February 2015.[26] "Voters want leaders who are going to spell out what they're going to do and then have the courage to act on it," Walker recently told Fox's Sean Hannity the same month.[27]

But the experience in Wisconsin has been quite different:

  • COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Just weeks into his first gubernatorial term, Walker proposed the legislation that has defined his political career, the anti-union Act 10. Yet he never spelled out that he would go after unions on the 2010 campaign trail. In fact, Walker pledged that he would do the opposite: one week before the 2010 election, he told the Oshkosh Northwestern editorial board that he would actually negotiate with public sector unions.[28] After the introduction of Act 10, Walker claimed that he gave voters fair warning. In February of 2011, one week after the controversial bill’s introduction, he said that "I campaigned on (Act 10) all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."[29] Politifact called the claim “false.”[30] Even Walker’s supporters couldn’t come up with a single instance of Walker stating during his campaign that he would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public employees.[31]
  • RIGHT-TO-WORK: ”We're not going to do anything with right to work," Walker told the New York Times in October of 2014 while running for reelection, echoing public statements he had made for years.[32] But on March 9, 2015, Walker signed right-to-work legislation that was lifted word-for-word from an American Legislative Exchange Council "model."[33] This reversal earned him a "full flop" on Politifact's flip-o-meter.[34]
  • FEDERAL ETHANOL MANDATE: At the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines on March 7, 2015, Walker came out in support of the federal ethanol mandate.[35] "It's an access issue, and so it's something I'm willing to go forward on continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure there's certainty in terms of the blend levels set," Walker stated.[35] This is a shift in position for Walker who in 2006 had stood strongly opposing the mandate, arguing that "a big government mandate is not the way to support the farmers of this state...Central planning will not help our family farmers, protect our environment or provide jobs. The free-enterprise system must drive innovation to relieve our dependence on foreign oil, not mandates from the state or federal government."[36]
  • ABORTION: In an "Open Letter on Life," Walker came out in support of a ban on abortions after 20 weeks on March 3, 2015.[37] As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker would not come out in support of such a ban while campaigning in 2014, "Walker said in last year's campaign he opposed abortion, but refused to say whether he supported banning the procedure after 20 weeks. At one stage, he ran an ad saying earlier restrictions he approved were aimed at patient safety and that he understood the decision to terminate a pregnancy was an 'agonizing one.'"[38]
  • AMNESTY: Walker changed his position on undocumented immigrants despite claiming that he had not, as the Wausau Daily Herald reported on February 17, 2015. In an interview with the newspaper's editorial board in 2013, Walker was asked: "Can you envision a world where, with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements, where those people [undocumented immigrants] could get citizenship?" To this he responded, "Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think it makes sense."[39] (The video of the interview can be viewed here.) Walker later claimed that he never said this and was misquoted. In a February 2015 interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, he said, "That’s wrong. It's not what I said. I have said I believe we need a legal immigration system. I have said repeatedly I oppose amnesty."[40]
  • POLITICAL FUNDING FROM GAMBLING INDUSTRY: When Walker was a state representative in 1999, he was in favor of a ban on political contributions from the gambling industry.[41] ThinkProgress reports that Walker stated to fellow representatives in a hearing on the ban in September of 1999, "We have witnessed problems with gambling contributions at the federal level and in other states...We must act now before problems evolve in this state. Our measure will act as a protection against corruption here in Wisconsin.”[41] Walker clearly changed his position on such a ban. In recent years, "he accepted a $250,000 donation from Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. The Republican megadonor and his wife Miriam would each make $10,000 donations to Walker’s 2014 re-election campaign as well (in addition to a $650,000 gift to the state GOP). According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Adelsons are among Walker’s six top biggest donors since 2009."[41] On top of these very large donations, "A ThinkProgress review of Walker’s other donors found he also received $9,000 from the Forest County Potawatomi Community (a Native American tribe that operates a Milwaukee casino). Walker got $5,000 from Wild Rose Entertainment chairman Gerald M. Kirke and $3,000 from vice chairman Michael J. Richards (their company operates two casinos in Iowa). And Peter M. Carlino, chairman of Penn National Gaming, also contributed $1,000 to Walker in 2012."[41]
  • ON STIMULUS FUNDING: When serving as Milwaukee County Executive in early January 2009, Walker stated that he would refuse federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Walker as saying that, "'The last thing you want to do is put money in hands of government,' if the goal is to pull the economy from recession."[42] Walker was so strongly opposed to the stimulus that he wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Why I'm Not Lining Up for Stimulus Handouts," where he argued that taking the funds would hurt the economy and lead to a larger deficit.[43] The Milwaukee County Board disagreed with Walker and pursued the funds aggressively.[44] Walker attempted to prevent the County Board from receiving the stimulus funds through a veto but, ultimately, failed when the Board overrided his veto.[45] Once it became clear that the county would be requesting stimulus funds, Walker shifted his position and released a wish list for the funds later in the day.[45] However, putting together a wish list did not stop Walker from publicly boasting that he is unique in not accepting stimulus funds, nor from fundraising on his position ""Earlier this year, I was one of the few elected officials in the country to not submit a wish list of projects from the federal stimulus funds," Walker said in a four-page fund-letter to supporters.[46] Patricia Jursik, a county board member, criticized Walker for "playing politics" with the funds, "While saying he opposed government handouts, Walker sought federal dollars for bus rapid transit. He is also sending out this letter critical of stimulus dollars even while his department heads are seeking them, something Jursik said they should be doing."[46]
  • ON GUN RESTRICTIONS: On Friday April 10, 2015 while speaking at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, Walker boasted "how he has an A+ rating from the NRA as governor and had an A rating as a state legislator."[47] Walker went on to say that the country needs leaders like himself who believe that "preserving, protecting and defending (the Constitution) is not optional.”[47] However, Walker has not always fought against restrictions on guns. As Buzzfeed recently highlighted, Walker listed his support of two pieces of gun control legislation as "accomplishments" on his biography page while serving as a Wisconsin legislator in 2002,
“In 1994, Walker pushed through two measures to tighten gun laws. One measure now prohibits any person who commits the equivalent of a felony as a juvenile from possessing a firearm. The other measure prohibits anyone who was involuntarily committed as a minor from possessing a firearm. This legislation resulted from working with students at Wauwatosa West High School following the tragic shooting of a school administrator in 1993.”[48]
Also, "Walker, at the time a junior member of the state assembly, briefly co-sponsored a bill in 1995 making it illegal for any federally licensed gun dealer in the state to sell a weapon that wasn't secured with a trigger lock, and also made it illegal to buy one. The penalty: fines of up to $10,000 and jail sentences of up to nine months," Bloomberg reported in March of 2015.[49]

Walker's Online Communications Director Liz Mair "Resigns" After Two Days on the Job

Liz Mair, online communications director for Walker's Our American Revival and former director of online communications for his 2012 reelection campaign, resigned on March 17, 2015 after an article in The Des Moines Register highlighting tweets critical of Iowa was published.[50] In January, Mair tweeted, "In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys."[51] Once brought to light, influential Iowa republicans took issue with Mair's appointment and "The movement to oust Mair snowballed after Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann got in the action, calling on the aide to apologize or "I'd send her packing." He further said her comments were "not only incorrect, they're rather juvenile, they're naive, they're ignorant," the Huffington Post reported.[52] "The tone of some of my tweets concerning Iowa was at odds with that which Gov. Walker has always encouraged in political discourse," Mair released in resignation.[53] It is unlikely that Mair quit on her own says friend and political columnist Erik Erickson, "There’s just no way Liz Mair resigned with it being her idea. I haven’t talked to her yet, but there’s just no way. So instead of Walker owning this, he’s passed the ball and made a staffer off herself. That’s unfortunate and plays into the “not ready for prime time” theme already developing around Team Walker."[54]

Many conservatives criticized Walker for appearing weak in not supporting Mair, including the conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg who stated, "“If Walker is the guy I hope he is, he won’t just have to take on his enemies, he’ll have to take on his friends, too … Isn’t that the point of the anti-establishment movement on the right?”[55]

Mair is not the first Walker aide to be forced out for previous tweets. In 2013, Taylor Palmisano, Walker's campaign's deputy finance director, and Steven Krieser, his assistant deputy secretary at the state Department of Transportation, were fired for racist posts on social media.[56]

President Obama Hammers Walker over Right-to-Work Law

President Obama placed himself in the middle of the republican politics on March 9, 2015 in releasing a statement critical of Wisconsin's right-to-work that Walker signed on the same day. Obama said,

"Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past. So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans -- by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy -- not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead."[57]

Walker Changes Stance on Ethanol Mandate

At the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines on March 7, 2015, Walker came out in support of the federal ethanol mandate.[35] "It's an access issue, and so it's something I'm willing to go forward on continuing the Renewable Fuel Standard and pressing the EPA to make sure there's certainty in terms of the blend levels set," Walker stated.[35] This is a shift in position for Walker who previously had stood strongly opposing the mandate, arguing that "a big government mandate is not the way to support the farmers of this state...Central planning will not help our family farmers, protect our environment or provide jobs. The free-enterprise system must drive innovation to relieve our dependence on foreign oil, not mandates from the state or federal government."[58]

Mother Jones reports that "studies have found that ethanol is worse for the climate than fossil fuel. Though the mandate has been a boon to corn producers—40 percent of American corn is now used for biofuel—it also caused food prices to rise in the United States and abroad."[59]

Walker Criticizes Hillary Clinton for Using Private Email Despite Doing the Same as Milwaukee County Executive

The Weekly Standard reports that in an interview with Walker on March 8, 2015, he criticized Hillary Clinton for using a private email account while secretary of state and denied that he is a hypocrite for doing so.[60]

"It’s a logical assumption that the secretary of state is talking about highly confidential classified information. How can she ensure that that information wasn’t compromised?" Walker told The Weekly Standard following an event with supporters in Des Moines. "I think that’s the bigger issue—is the audacity to think that someone would put their personal interest above classified, confidential, highly sensitive information that’s not only important to her but to the United States of America. I think is an outrage that Democrats as well as Republicans should be concerned about.”[60]

The Center for Media and Democracy previously reported on Walker's secret email system that he used for campaigning for Governor while working as county executive in Milwaukee here. "On county time, the staffers allegedly communicated extensively with Walker campaign staff, organized fundraisers, made invitations, exchanged fundraising lists and sent out campaign press releases" using the private email network.[61] As Walker accuses Clinton of doing, his campaign used the private network (set up in an armoire) for his personal interest. "Two Walker aides who used the private router were later convicted of misconduct in office for doing political work while they were being paid by taxpayers."[62] In addition, "Emails released through litigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show Walker routinely used his campaign account — skw@scottwalker.org — to discuss county business."[62]

"This is the ultimate glass house for the governor," said state Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee). "I can't see how the governor can make any kind of comment on Hillary Clinton's emails."[62]

Walker's "Most Significant Foreign Policy Decision" in his Lifetime Not Based on Facts

At the Club for Growth's annual meeting in Palm Beach, FL on February 28, 2015, Walker reportedly told a group of donors that "'the most significant foreign policy decision' of his lifetime was when Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 air traffic controllers."[63] Walker has repeatedly used Reagan's executive action to argue that leadership is more important than foreign policy experience as he did again at the meeting,

“Candidly, I think foreign policy is something that’s not just about having a PhD or talking to PhDs. It’s about leadership,” he said. “I would contend the most significant foreign policy decision in my lifetime was made by a president who was previously a governor. A president who made a decision that wasn’t even about foreign policy. It was in August of 1981, when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.”[63]

In a previous interview on MSNBC, Walker supported his claim in stating that, "Years later, documents released from the Soviet Union showed that that exactly was the case. The Soviet Union started treating (Reagan) more seriously once he did something like that. Ideas have to have consequences."[64] Upon being asked by Politifact to produce the "documents released," both Walker's governor's office and campaign could not do so.[64] This is because such "documents" have not been released according to Svetlana Savranskaya, director of Russia programs at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, who told Politifact she "had to listen to the Walker interview twice, so ridiculous is the statement about the air traffic controllers. There is absolutely no evidence of this. I would love to see the released Soviet documents on this subject that he has apparently seen."[64] Jack Matlock, Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time agrees, "It's utter nonsense. There is no evidence of that whatever...At that point, their big question was whether (Reagan) was going to attack them."[64]

Walker Compares Wisconsin Protestors to ISIS Terrorists

See video of Scott Walker's controversial comments at CPAC here.

See video of the 2011 Wisconsin protests here.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 26, 2015, Scott Walker claimed that his experience with the Wisconsin protests in 2011 prepared him for the fight against the murderous militants known as ISIS ("Islamic State"). Asked how he would handle ISIS if elected president, Walker replied, "For years I've been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on American soil.... If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said, to applause from the audience.[65]

The statement was widely condemned. "To compare the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, grandmothers, veterans, correctional officers, nurses and all the workers who came out to peacefully protest and stand together for their rights as Americans to ISIS terrorists is disgusting and unacceptable," said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.[65]

"It's disgusting to hear Scott Walker compare the 100,000 hardworking men, women, senior citizens and children who came out to protest in Wisconsin to the terrorists of Isis," Jim Tucciarelli--president of a New York City local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose office was one block away from the 9/11 attacks--told The Guardian. "The protesters were members of the military, police officers, firefighters, and first responders. They were librarians, teachers and nurses. How desperate do you have to be as a politician to compare those folks to murderous terrorists?"[66]

Walker clarified his remarks after the CPAC speech: "Let me be perfectly clear, I'm just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling this difficult situation is the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with," he told the Wisconsin State Journal.[67]

Walker Endorses 20-Week Abortion Ban after Downplaying Stance during Election

In a letter released by the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List on March 3, 2015, Walker announced that he would sign legislation banning most abortions after 20 weeks. During his 2014 re-election campaign, he had refused to state whether he supported such a ban, and his campaign ran an ad in which Walker stated that a mandatory ultrasound bill he had signed "leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor."[68] The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted that Walker "took Tuesday's [March 3] stance soon after being criticized for his handling of abortion questions in a Fox News interview on Sunday," and called the move "the latest example of Walker downplaying a major issue until after winning the governor's race."[69] Politico reported that some groups opposed to abortion criticized Walker, with an American Principles Project blogger asking, “If he’ll pivot once, will he pivot back?”[70] The right-wing site Breitbart said that Walker "seemed to duck the issue" in his Fox News appearance and called his endorsement of a 20-week ban a move "to quell [a] pro-life revolt."[71]

Walker Backtracks on Previous Immigration Stances

Walker changed his position on undocumented immigrants despite claiming that he had not, as the Wausau Daily Herald reported on February 17, 2015. In an interview with the newspaper's editorial board in 2013, Walker was asked: "Can you envision a world where, with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements, where those people [undocumented immigrants] could get citizenship?" To this he responded, "Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think it makes sense."[39] (The video of the interview can be viewed here.)

Walker later claimed that he never said this and was misquoted. In a February 2015 interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, he said, "That's wrong. It's not what I said. I have said I believe we need a legal immigration system. I have said repeatedly I oppose amnesty."[72]

Despite saying that he had "repeatedly" opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants, Politico reported that, as early as 2006, Walker supported similar reforms.[73] When serving as Milwaukee County Executive in 2006, Walker "signed a resolution calling on Congress to pass the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, a bill authored by John McCain and Teddy Kennedy that was denounced at the time by conservatives as 'amnesty' and remains anathema to party activists."[73]

Walker also signed a 2002 resolution as county executive that "called for allowing 'undocumented working immigrants to obtain legal residency in the United States,'" according to the National Review.[74]

In response to increased media attention on Walker's previously held views on immigration, Walker's 527 committee communication director Kirsten Kukowski released the following statement in an email to Talking Points Memo that blames Obama for his shift on undocumented immigrants:[75]

"President Obama's lack of leadership has completely changed how our immigration system now needs to be approached and Governor Walker has seen his fellow governors have to deal with the collateral damage of Obama's decisions and lack of leadership."
"Walker believes, according to Kukowski, 'First, Obama's executive action should be repealed' and that 'we need absolute security at our borders and then we can address fixing our legal immigration system and deal with those here illegally but amnesty is not the answer.'[75]

American Democracy Legal Fund Alleges that Walker and Our American Revival Broke Federal Election Laws

As noted below, Walker has set up a 527 fundraising vehicle as he explores a run for the White House. According to the American Democracy Legal Fund, a Democratic legal watchdog group tied to the American Bridge PAC,

"Scott Walker, Our American Revival, and Our American Revival treasurer Andrew Hitt, may have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Governor Walker recently created Our American Revival, a political organization organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. The facts indicate that Gov. Walker is testing the waters for a campaign for president of the United States, using OAR as his exploratory committee, and in doing so is raising and spending funds that are beyond the contribution limits and source restrictions of the Federal Election Campaign Act."[76][77]

Kirsten Kukowski, communications director for Walker's campaign, responded in an email to the Wisconsin State Journal following the filing by referring to Walker's presidential candidacy in hypotheticals, "(Walker) has built an organization tasked with building an issue environment and platform for candidates in 2016...IF he feels his policies are resonating, THEN PERHAPS he enters a pre-candidacy phase and THEN PERHAPS a candidacy phase."[78]

Walker Dodges Press on Trade Mission to the UK

The Daily Mail and other U.K. outlets complained about Walker dodging press while on U.K. soil. During a Q and A at an appearance at the Chatham House in the UK on February 11, 2015, Walker avoided answering questions on science. When asked if he believed in evolution, Walker responded, "I'm going to punt on that one, as well...That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other. So I'm going to leave that up to you."[79] Despite saying that he wouldn't answer the question, he felt a need to clarify his comment on Twitter later, "Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand."[80] Time's Jack Dickey inquired to Walker's high-school science teacher Ann Serpe about whether or not he had learned about evolution and she responded, "We taught the theory of evolution, and human evolution, as a prerequisite to understanding biological classification. I went out and looked at my biology textbook just to make sure."[81] Serpe went on to state in the same piece that Walker "as an intelligent man" would know that evolution and creationism are not compatible.[81]

When asked questions on current foreign policy issues such as the crisis in Ukraine, ISIS, and the ban on U.S. oil exports at the Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank, Walker responded, "Per being old fashioned and having respect for the president, I just don't think you talk about foreign policy when you're on foreign soil."[82]. He refused to answer these foreign policy questions at a foreign policy think tank even though he wrote on Twitter earlier in the day, "Happy to field a variety of questions today at the Chatham House."[80]

Walker's "trade mission" to the UK cost Wisconsin taxpayers $138,200, while no new investments in Wisconsin have been made "so far."[83]

Deliberate 'Drafting Error' Struck 'Search for Truth' From University of Wisconsin Mission Statement

Changes to Section 1111 of 2015-2017 Executive Budget

In his proposed executive budget for 2015-2017, Walker removed "the search for truth" and the Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system's mission statement.[84] Following a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, "Walker Strikes Truth and Wisconsin Idea from UW Mission in Budget" on February 4, 2015 highlighting these changes, Walker defended them when confronted in an appearance in DePere, Wisconsin, "The [mission statement's] focus would be honed in, in particular to look at making sure that we prepare individuals in this state -- be they fresh out of high school or coming back later in life -- for the jobs and opportunities that are available in the state,"[85][86] However, as the story spread and was picked up by national media outlets, Walker backed off the changes to the mission statement later in the day, calling them a "drafting error" when asked to comment on them by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice.[87] It became clear, though, that the changes to the mission statement were deliberate as multiple drafts of the related section were uncovered by the Wisconsin State Journal.[88] Also, Walker claimed "that was language [in the Mission Statement] they [the UW-System] went through, looked at, and somehow overlooked."[89] In truth, on January 29, 2015 John Yingling, special assistant to University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross, raised objections to the changes in an email to Nathan Schwanz, an employee in the state budget office within the Department of Administration, but was rebuffed.[90]

Walker Equates Government Assistance Programs with "a Hammock"

In a conference call with Iowans on February 2, 2015, Walker said that government assistance programs look more like "a hammock" than a safety net.[91] Greg Sargent of The Washington Post reported that this analogy of "the hammock" was likely borrowed from Sen. Paul Ryan (WI) who later "backed off" of it.[92]

Walker Will Not Rule Out Putting Boots on the Ground in Syria

On February 1, 2015 while appearing on ABC's Sunday program "This Week," Walker stated that he would not rule out deploying U.S. soldiers to Syria to fight ISIS. He told Martha Raddatz of ABC News, "We have to be — go beyond just aggressive air strikes. We have to look at other surgical methods. And ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground if that's what it takes."[93] Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic criticized this foreign policy belief as "naive."[94] Salon's Jim Newell goes further than Friedersdorf in calling Walker's comments "insane" because he "only say(s) that we have to be "prepared," or that the option should be "on the table." Then what's the timetable for these preparations? When will that option be picked up from the table? If you say that the war is lost without ground troops, then what's with all this hesitation about sending them in right away?"[95]

Featured Speaker at 2015 "Koch Summit"

Walker attended and was one of four featured speakers at the Freedom Partners winter donor meeting also referred to by reporters as the "Koch Summit" or "Koch Primary" at the Rancho Mirage Resort in Palm Springs, California on the weekend of January 23, 2015.[96] Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida were the other Republican candidates invited to speak "to the vaunted network assembled by the billionaire industrialist megadonors Charles and David Koch."[97][98]

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which publishes SourceWatch.org, filed an open records request concerning Walker's attendance at the event along with Common Cause:

"The request seeks details of who paid for Governor Walker's travel expenses, and recent communications between the governor's office and the Kochs' secretive political apparatus, which plans to spend $889 million in advance of the 2016 elections," said the press release.[99]

Since at least 2006, the Koch brothers have hosted semi-annual meetings for wealthy right-wing donors, sometimes referred to as the Koch Network.[100] The meetings involve fundraising, reportedly in the millions of dollars, as well as discussions about political strategy.[101]

At the 2015 summit, it was revealed that the network planned to spend $889 million on the 2016 election campaign, a goal the New York Times called "unprecedented" and which "would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party's presidential nominee."[102].

Funding

More Top G.O.P. Donors Have Given to Scott Walker

Walker attended and spoke at a GOP donors event at the Waldorf Astoria resort in Boca Raton, Florida on March 21-22, 2015.[103] The event was closed to the press so it is unknown who the donors in attendance were.[103] Following the event, Walker and other attendees went to "a Republican Governors Association fundraiser hosted by David Koch at his Palm Beach mansion."[103]

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, hosted a confidential meeting for Walker with "conservative business leaders" on February 21, 2015. Norquist promised attendees confidentiality and would only say that the 55 people who came out to see Walker included "conservative activists, trade association executives, business leaders, state legislators and at least one statewide elected official," according to Newsmax.[104]

Walker attended a private event with supply-side economics advocates at a upscale restaurant in New York City on February 18, 2015. High profile economists associated with "Reaganomics," Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore were to serve as hosts, and John Catsimatidis -- the billionaire supermarket tycoon -- would sponsor the event, according to the Washington Post. Other notable attendees to the private dinner included "investment banker Lewis Lehrman, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and philanthropist Jimmy Kemp, the son of Jack Kemp, the late New York congressman who ushered Reagan’s tax reforms through Congress."[105] The following morning, Walker reportedly had breakfast with some large GOP donors at the office of Roger Hertog, former chairman of the Manhattan Institute.[106]

Walker has actively traveled around the United States to raise money for a presidential campaign. He was "cultivating new supporters at small gatherings arranged by donors who have backed his past campaigns" in Indian Wells, California; San Francisco; Denver; Nashville; and Lakewood, N.J., in January 2015, according to the Washington Post.[107] He also obtained the support of fundraisers who had previously backed 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- including "hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci, who said he had given $100,000 to Mr. Walker's political-action committee and set up meetings for him with around two-dozen donors in New York" -- according to the Wall Street Journal. The billionaire Stanley Hubbard raised funds for Walker in Minnesota.[108]

Outside Groups Backing White House Run

Our American Revival, 527 committee

Walker formed a committee to prepare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election on January 16, 2015.[109] The group, "Our American Revival," was formed as a 527 committee, which can raise unlimited funds -- including from corporations. In an announcement, Walker contrasted this group with other politicians' PACs, claiming, "Others have political action committees, PACs, which are really about promoting themselves and political candidates.... This case, it's about promoting an idea."[110]

The committee's paperwork listed two contacts, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Molly Weininger of Aspect Consulting, a Madison-area firm with ties to Walker; and Andrew Hitt, a former Walker administration official who left his state job last month and now serves as the director of operations for ElderSpan Management LLC, which develops and manages senior living facilities in southern Wisconsin."[111]

The group listed a P.O. box in Middleton, Wisconsin as its address and "no@email" as its email address in its IRS paperwork.[112] Its website is www.ouramericanrevival.com, and it has a Facebook page.

"Our American Revival"

Our American Revival released a video online on Tuesday, January 27. The 2-minute clip "encapsulated" Walker's likely campaign message, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:

"The narrator references declining family incomes, stifled dreams and a foreign policy that 'apologizes for America,' with the latter message accompanied by images of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
"'To reclaim our destiny, we must turn to bold, fresh and new ideas from those bold incubators of reform: The states,' the narrator continues, transitioning to images of Walker and clips from his election night victory speech in November" 2014.[110]
Unintimidated, Super PAC Run By Walker Former Campaign Manager
What You Get for a Large Donation to Unintimidated PAC

On April 16, 2015, the "Unintimidated Super PAC" was formed to raise money for Walker's 2016 Presidential run.[113] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the PAC will be "led by Keith Gilkes, a longtime Walker aide who ran Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign and then served as his chief of staff."[113] Gilkes also worked for Walker's 2012 recall election campaign, "which was triggered anger generated by the Republican governor's Act 10 measure that all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin."[113] Gilkes will also serve as treasurer while Chris Ashby of Washington, D.C. will be assistant treasurer.[113] The deputy executive director will be former Walker aide Stephan Thompson and the finance director will be James McCray, fundraiser for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.[113] With the close ties between Walker and Gilkes and Thompson, some question whether the PAC can remain independent, like Matt Rothschild, the executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:

"We're very skeptical these so-called independent groups, especially when they're led by key aides of the candidates," he said. "It makes it seem unlikely that such groups are truly independent."[113]

Breitbart reported on April 23, 2015 that the public relations firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs will be doing "strategic communications" for Walker's Unintimidated PAC.[114] "The firm has been active in the conservative movement since 1984, helped Reagan’s re-election, has represented groups like the National Rifle Association, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth, and more. Instead of focusing on mainstream media efforts, Shirley & Banister focuses much of its resources on new media like conservative online media, talk radio and other grassroots-centered materials–yet another sign that Walker doesn’t care about the Washington establishment way of doing things," Breitbart notes.[114]

Unintimidated is currently soliciting contributions from individuals of $1,000,000, $500,000, and $250,000 in exchange for "VIP" benefits such as members only conference calls, bi-annual retreats, private dinners and dedicated staff contacts, tweeted Craig Gilbert, political reporter and Washington Bureau Chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.[115]

On May 20, 2015, Walker attended a barbecue fundraiser in Chicago for Unintimidated hosted by billionaire Todd Ricketts, chief executive officer of Incapital LLC.[116] The event was closed to the press, but Lynn Sweet reports that, "100 folks attended the Ricketts backyard event for Walker — with cheeseburgers off the grill and beer — and that “very significant” money was raised."[116]

Draft Scott Walker for President, Super PAC

"Draft Scott Walker for President" Super PAC was officially launched on February 18, 2015.[117] The group describes itself as a movement of "volunteers" made up of "business people and homemakers, retirees and students, wives and mothers, husbands and fathers."[118] The website for the PAC does not list the names of the staff or an office.[118] Its website is http://www.draftscottwalker16.com.

Go Big Go Bold, Super PAC
"Draft Scott Walker for President 2016"

"Go Big Go Bold," a new Super PAC supporting Walker's run for the presidency, was officially formed on February 25, 2015.[119] According to its website, donations to the Super PAC "will be put to work immediately to help build a groundswell of bold, conservative support to Draft Scott Walker."[120] "Go Big Go Bold" was formed by Robert Adams, the group's president and treasurer.[119] According to reporter Peter Olsen-Phillips, Adams "has a history of using much of the money raised from his political vehicles to support neither candidates nor causes — but rather Robert Adams and the businesses he owns."[119] "Go Big Go Bold" released a video online on February 25, 2015. Its website is http://www.goscottgo.com.

Committed 2016 Presidential Campaign Donors

California

  • John Peck, real estate mogul [121]
  • "Papa" Doug Manchester, developer and founder of the San Diego Union Tribune[121]
  • Peter Farrell, a philanthropist and the founder of the medical device company, ResMed[121]

Florida

Illinois

  • Ken Griffin, hedge fund manager and the founder and CEO of Citadel[122]
  • Todd Ricketts, Chairman and CEO of Incapital LLC and owner of the Chicago Cubs[116]

Minnesota

New Jersey

  • Rich Roberts, former CEO of URL Pharma, Inc.[123]

New York

  • Anthony Scaramucci, founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital[108]

Tennessee

  • Andy Miller, health care venture capitalist[122]

Texas

  • Dan Cook, investment banker[121]
  • Bob Kay, former energy executive[121]
  • Brent Southwell, CEO of Professional Janitorial Service in Houston[121]
  • Jacob and Dan Eberhart, co-manage the energy company, Canary, and the private equity firm, Eberhart Capital[121]
  • Bob Rasmus and James Whipkey, who co-manage the energy company, Hi-Crush Partners, as well as the private equity firm, Red Oak Capital[121]

Wisconsin

Presidential Campaign Team

  • Rick Wiley, expected campaign manager (former Republican National Committee political director and veteran of multiple presidential campaigns)[125]
  • David Polyansky ("a GOP strategist with Iowa ties" who had previously worked on Iowa campaigns for presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann and a U.S. House campaign for Rep. Joni Ernst)[126]
  • Matt Mason, national political director (former field director of the Republican National Committee)[127]
  • Kirsten Kukowski, communications director (deputy communications director/press secretary for the Republican National Committee)[128]
  • Ed Goeas, senior advisor (president and CEO of The Tarrance Group)[128]
  • Brian Tringali, polling analyst (partner at The Tarrance Group)[128]
  • B.J. Martino, polling analyst (senior vice president of The Tarrance Group)[128]
  • Mark Stephenson, chief data officer (former campaign aide for U.S. Rep. Joni Ernst)[128]
  • Andy Leach, senior advisor (longtime GOP New Hampshire strategist)[129]
  • Michael Bir, senior advisor (former political director of the Michigan Republican Party)[129]
  • Eric Woolson, strategic adviser and communications director in Iowa[130]
  • Danny O’Driscoll, deputy political director (veteran of Mitt Romney's 2012 Presidential campaign team)[131]
  • Wells Griffith, deputy political director (former deputy chief of staff of the republican national committee in 2012)[131]
  • Ashlee Strong, national press secretary (former senior communications director and chief spokesperson for Sen. John Thune (R-SD)[132]
  • Gregg Keller, senior advisor (former executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and former executive director of the American Conservative Union)[133]
  • Gary Marx, senior advisor (veteran of both President George W. Bush campaigns and former executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network)[133]
  • Tom Evenson, spokesman (previously served as spokesman for Walker's campaign for governor and for the governor's office)[134]
  • Michael Gallagher, national security advisor (former staffer on U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee)[134]
  • Kristin Jackson, policy advisor (specialist on energy and trade)[134]
  • Jenny Drucker, fundraiser (former finance director for the National Republican Campaign Committee)[134]
  • Alex Lawhon, fundraiser (former deputy for Jenny Drucker at the National Republican Campaign Committee)[134]
  • Susan Lilly, fundraiser (Austin-based fundraiser)[134]
  • Chad Airhart, leadership advisor (chairman of the Iowa Republican County Officials Association)[135]
  • Jarrett Heil, leadership advisor (Marshall County, Iowa Treasurer)[135]
  • Liz Mair, online communications director (former director of online communications for Walker's reelection campaign in 2012)[136] Resigned on March 17, 2015.[137]
  • Brittany Cover, online communications consultant (handled communications for Republican Sen. Rob Portman's last campaign)[136]
  • Dan Blum, online communications consultant (associate of Liz Mair; worked on Walker's reelection in 2012)[136]
  • Matt Hall, director of operations (former director of operations for 2012 Romney Presidential campaign)[138]
  • Jim Talent, leading advisor on foreign policy and defense (former Senator from Missouri and former senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute)[139]
  • Dan Tripp, head of operations in South Carolina (former S.C. lawmaker and worked on presidential campaigns of Herman Cain in 2012, John McCain in 2000 and Phil Gramm in 1996)[140]
  • Mike Lukach, South Carolina staffer (veteran of many campaigns; most recently worked on Republican Stewart Mills’ 2014 unsuccessful congressional race in Minnesota)[140]
  • Rich Beeson, political director (former political director for Gov. Romney's 2012 presidential campaign)[141]
  • Robert C. O'Brien, foreign-policy advisor (managing partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Arent Fox and senior advisor to Gov. Romney's 2012 president campaign)[141]
  • Andrew Bremberg, domestic and foreign policy advisor (former adviser and counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Senate nominations)[142]

Walker Finally Acknowledges Planning Run for President

Two weeks after his re-election as governor in November 2014, Walker "openly acknowledged he was exploring a run for the presidency" and discussed his prospects with a number of national news outlets. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, Walker had been engaged since at least 2012 in the kinds of activities that lead up to a presidential run: "meeting with prominent donors, publishing a book, and speaking around the country and in early caucus and primary states like Iowa."[143]

Second John Doe Investigation, February 2012-Present

WI-Club-Growth-Walker350pxW.jpg

See CMD's special report, "The Assault on Clean Election Laws: The Well-Funded Campaign to Legalize Coordination in Wisconsin and Nationwide"

For an archive of publicly available documents on the two “John Doe” criminal investigations involving Scott Walker and his associates, see the page Scott Walker John Doe Documents.

On October 21, 2013, Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that another John Doe was under way, with prosecutors investigating possible campaign finance violations and other state issues in five counties, based on a number of leads turned up by the earlier John Doe probe.[144] As the probe proceeded, media reports and documents released indicated that its focus was investigating possible illegal campaign coordination between Walker's campaign and outside political groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG).[145]

The investigation was led by former federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz -- who was once a finalist for U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush -- and was initially overseen by Kenosha County Judge Barbara A. Kluka. In November 2013, Kluka recused herself for unknown reasons and was replaced by retired Eau Claire Judge Gregory Peterson.[146]

The probe only came to light in October 2013, but was reportedly initiated in February 2012 -- in the midst of Governor Walker's recall election and during the first John Doe investigation.[147]

The Daily Beast wrote in October 2013 that "the newly public investigation could take some of the shine off Walker's popularity with conservatives. Political pundits are likely to see connections to two wide-ranging ethics investigations in the same year as a poor launching pad for a presidential campaign."[148]

The Supreme Court of the United States Will Not Hear Appeal to John Doe Probe

The Supreme Court of the United States will not take up an appeal filed by Eric O'Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth according to a court document released on May 18, 2015.[149] The appeal had sought "to permanently block a secret probe into Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign and its dealings with allied groups, ending one line of attack by subjects of the investigation," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.[150] The future of the John Doe investigation is now in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the probe is stalled until they rule on the legality of it.[150] Special prosecutor Francis Schmitz claims that "the investigation had been halted in its early stages...So far, there is not enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime, but prosecutors should be allowed to look further into the matter."[150]

Walker Publicly Criticizes John Doe Probe; Prosecutors Fire Back

In a radio interview on WHO News Radio 1040 Des Moines, IA on April 24, 2015, Walker responded to a question on a recent article in the National Review that criticized the John Doe investigation.[151] When asked what happened (with the home invasions and the John Doe probe), Walker responded,

"Well, you’ve seen a full out attempt in many ways, whether it be the recall, the protests, or this case, it was a, this was an attempt by prosecutors to come out and, and I think they’ve clearly pointed out there are questions about the constitutionality about much of what they did, but it was really about trying to intimidate people connected to organizations who’ve been supportive, not just of me, but Senate Republicans and others who faced recalls a few years ago. And, uh, it should be chilling enough that it shouldn’t be just conservatives concerned that concerned about, frankly anyone who is concerned about the overreach of, I said even if you are a liberal democrat, you should look at and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself."[151]

When the host asked Walker for the pretext for the home investigations, he replied,

"Their theory was, they were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt. They were looking for anything and their contention was that they wanted to try to see if there were efforts coordinated, when it was very clear that there weren’t. In fact, the very things that many of my supporters were working on with us was about supporting the ideas, supporting the message of what we had accomplished, the positive reforms..[Host: Act 10]... Exactly. Act 10 which was really fundamentally took the power away from the big government special interests, the big government union bosses and put it firmly in the hands of the hardworking taxpayer. And, eh, they really overlooked the fact that the constitution and the supreme courts and other courts had clearly laid this out for some time, gives people the right to lay that information out, to use our voices. Have the right to freedom of speech, to talk about the positive things, in this case what Act 10 had done, and continues to do in our great state."[151]

In response to Walker's comments on WHO News Radio, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The truth is always a defense, so let's get the truth out in a legal manner, not through lies, distortions and misrepresentations."[152] In a separate statement on Walker's interview, Francis Schmitz, a special prosecutor appointed by Chisholm, said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "His description of the investigation as a 'political witch hunt' is offensive when he knows that the investigation was authorized by a bipartisan group of judges and is directed by a Republican special prosecutor appointed at the request of a bipartisan group of district attorneys."[152]

Schmitz in his statement also called on Walker to join him in advocating for the files in the John Doe case to be made publicly available,

"I have chosen to litigate this matter in the courts rather than the media. Consequently, I will not address the Governor’s inaccurate statements (or those of others, including statements in the National Review article he referenced) about certain factual and legal issues now before the Wisconsin courts. However, I invite the Governor to join me in seeking judicial approval to lawfully release information now under seal which would be responsive to the allegations that have been made. Such information, when lawfully released, will show that these recent allegations are patently false."[153]

Full statements from Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz on Scott Walker's John Doe comments can be viewed here.

Walker's Campaign-Funded Legal Fees Top $1M Since 2012

An article in the Wisconsin State Journal on July 23, 2014 revealed that Walker's campaign has spent over a $1 million in legal fees since 2012.[154] According to a report acquired by the paper, Walker's campaign paid $212,434 to Sidley Austin LLP, $83,079 to Biskupic & Jacobs LLC, and $25,000 to Michael Steinle, a criminal defense lawyer in Milwaukee.[154] "The report, which covers the first six months of this year, doesn’t specify what the money was spent on. But Walker’s campaign has been entangled in a John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination among conservative groups and Republican political campaigns during the 2012 recall election," the authors state.[154] Walker's legal defense fund paid around $450,000 in fees through March of 2013, shortly after the first John Doe investigation was completed.[154]

Possible Illegal Campaign Coordination Focus of Investigation

The Wisconsin State Journal reported in October 2013 that, when asked about the latest John Doe, Walker replied:

"'I'm not going to get pulled into that, one way or another. Because if somebody was (contacted) and they said they were, they'd be in violation of that,' Walker said, in apparent reference to the secrecy order that commonly accompanies such investigations. 'If they weren't, they'd be speculating on something that they're not involved in. So either way, it doesn't make any sense to get involved with that.'" [155]

But on February 4, 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the campaign most likely under investigation is Scott Walker's recall campaign. Unsealed documents indicated that the probe focused on possible "illegal campaign coordination between (name redacted), a campaign committee, and certain special interest groups," according to a filing signed by the five district attorneys in the case."[156] According to the Wisconsin State Journal, court records and media reports indicate that the probe centers on possible illegal coordination between a political campaign and unnamed special interest groups that campaigned on behalf of Walker and several Republican legislators.[157] A source in Bice's article confirmed that it is Friends of Scott Walker under investigation, saying, "Good guess…That's it." [156]

Milwaukee County investigator Robert Stelter seemed to confirm this characterization of the John Doe investigation in an affadavit accompanying a document release in August 2014. Stelter stated that the investigation "is about a candidate and his personal campaign committee failing to disclose the funding of such coordinated advocacy," referring to Walker.[145] The documents implicate Walker in the investigation, with Stetler also writing that "During 2011 and 2012, R.J. Johnson, Governor Scott Walker, Keith Gilkes, and others, conspired to use WiCFG to coordinate political activity in response to recall elections against Wisconsin state senators, as well as Governor Walker," and that "Contributions were personally solicited by Governor Scott Walker to WiCFG, a '501(c)(4)' organization in order to circumvent the reporting and contributions provisions" of Wisconsin law."[145]

In the second half of 2013, the Walker campaign paid the law firm of former U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic $86,000 in legal fees.[156] The Walker campaign reported spending another $320,000 on legal fees in campaign finance reports filed on July 21, 2014. Walker's campaign "sent nearly $213,000 to Sidley Austin, a large Chicago law firm where defense attorney John Gallo is a partner; more than $83,000 to the Mequon-based Biskupic & Jacobs law firm; and $25,000 to Milwaukee defense lawyer Michael Steinle," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.[158]

Walker Campaign, Dozens of Republican-Aligned Groups Served with Subpoenas

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 15, 2013 that the secret "John Doe" investigation hit "dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor [Scott] Walker and state legislative leaders." [159]

The Walker campaign was one of those that had been subpoenaed.

"Copies of two subpoenas we've seen demand "all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications" both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin," the Journal reported. [159]

Wisconsin Club for Growth, Led by Close Walker Ally, at Center of Dark Money Web

Cap-Times-Dark money.jpg

The Center for Media Democracy filed a complaint on October 27, 2014 "with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that the Wisconsin Club for Growth lied to the IRS in 2011 and 2012, violated its tax-exempt status by operating as a political committee, and operated primarily for the private partisan benefit of the Republican Party, rather than for any sort of 'social welfare.'"[160]

One target of the probe is Wisconsin Club for Growth. Board member Eric O'Keefe told the Wall Street Journal that he was subpoenaed in early October 2013, and that some of the targets "had their homes raided at dawn, with law-enforcement officers turning over belongings to seize computers and files."

Wisconsin Club for Growth is led by top Walker advisor RJ Johnson, a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Club for Growth is registered to Johnson's address. In Walker's book "Unintimidated," the governor refers to Johnson as a friend of more than 20 years and his key campaign operative.

Some reports put Wisconsin Club for Growth at the center of a network of dark money groups.[161][162]

The group took in funds from dark money conduit groups like the Center to Protect Patient Rights ($225,000) and Wellspring Committee ($400,000), and in turn shuffled millions to other nonprofits that spent money on ads in 2011 and 2012. Wisconsin Club for Growth transferred $4.6 million to the group Citizens for a Strong America in 2011, which amounted to its entire budget. Citizens for a Strong America, in turn, spent millions on ads during the recall fight, and provided the majority of funding for a third nonprofit that was also active in the recall elections, Wisconsin Family Action. Another politically-active nonprofit, the Jobs First Coalition, received half of its total funding from Wisconsin Club for Growth, and in turn made a large contribution to American Federation for Children. [161]

Subpoenas Quashed, Could Have Broader Impact on Campaign Finance Law

On January 10, 2014, Judge Peterson reportedly quashed subpoenas issued to Wisconsin Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America, and Walker's campaign committee, on grounds that it was not illegal for these independent groups to coordinate with the Walker campaign, since they ran "issue ads" that did not expressly tell viewers to "vote for" a candidate or "vote against" his or her opponent. [163]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote:

"Wisconsin's campaign finance statutes ban coordination between independent groups and candidates for a "political purpose." But a political purpose "requires express advocacy," the judge wrote, and express advocacy means directly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. "There is no evidence of express advocacy" and therefore "the subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed," Judge Peterson wrote. Even "the State is not claiming that any of the independent organizations expressly advocated" for the election of Mr. Walker or his opponent, he added. Instead they did "issue advocacy," which focuses on specific political issues." [164]

However, if the Wall Street Journal editorial is accurate, the court's ruling could have an impact beyond the immediate case.

"The implication of this secret ruling, if it is upheld, is that a candidate for Wisconsin office can now operate hand-in-glove with a nonprofit like Wisconsin Club for Growth -- which can accept unlimited donations and is under no obligation to disclose those donations -- as long as Wisconsin Club for Growth's ads omit words like "vote for" or "vote against." This would have the effect of undermining the state campaign finance laws that limit how much an individual can donate to a candidate and require disclosure, election law experts say.

"In that situation, the contribution limits become meaningless," says Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel with the Campaign Legal Center. [165]

Appeals Court Declines to Stop John Doe II

Three unnamed petitioners asked the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to stop the John Doe investigation, but in late January 2014, the Court refused to do so. However, the Court unsealed documents in the case, providing new insight into the investigation.[147] [166]

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the documents show: "the investigation began in the fall of 2012; arose at least in part out of an earlier secret investigation in Milwaukee County; includes five targets; centers on campaign finance laws; and has proceeded with the help of prosecutors from both political parties."[147]

As part of the 148-page affidavit Francis Schmitz filed in response to the appeal to stop the investigation are five exhibits, which reveal that John Voelker, director of state courts, appointed Barbara Kluka to investigate in five counties. Two of the John Doe related reports include initials of those involved in the probe. The initials "KR" and "ESO" suggest Rindfleisch and O'Keefe, both of whom were involved in the Walker recall campaign.

On February 10, 2014, Bice reported that court documents related to the probe revealed two of the individuals involved, Kelly Rindfleisch, a former Walker aide who was convicted in 2012, and Eric O'Keefe of Wisconsin Club for Growth by their initials.[167]

Wisconsin Club for Growth Sues in Federal Court; Suit Later Thrown Out

On February 10, 2014 Wisconsin Club for Growth sued prosecutors and the John Doe judge in federal court in an attempt to shut down the John Doe probe.[168] On September 24, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the lawsuit to be thrown out, declaring that federal Judge Rudolph Randa never should have taken the case in the first place.[169]

As part of its suit, WCFG claimed that liberal groups were guilty of "materially identical" conduct to that under investigation in the John Doe probe, which it claims shows that WCFG and other "targets of the investigation were selected based on political views and associations." However, some of those claims were demonstrably false.[170]

Investigation Halted by Judge with Ties to Koch Network

On May 6, 2014, federal Judge Rudolph Randa ordered a halt to the investigation, portraying the investigation -- led by a bipartisan group of District Attorneys and a Special Prosecutor who voted for Walker, and approved unanimously by the bipartisan group of retired judges on Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board -- as politically-motivated retaliation against Republicans. Randa wrote of WCFG that it "found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ingrained in our culture." In a highly unusual move, he also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation.[171] Randa had regularly attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets" at George Mason University funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests, as the Center for Media and Democracy uncovered.[172] The Judicial Conference of the United States -- which oversees the conduct of federal judges -- has noted that judges may be "influenced inappropriately" at the privately-funded events, and since 2007 has required that seminar organizers disclose the names of funders.[173]

Randa's decision also green-lighted electoral coordination between candidates and third-party groups, stating that WCFG "found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ingrained in our culture." At the time, Paul Seamus Ryan, Senior Counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, said that "Randa's decision flies in the face of well-established federal coordination laws."[171]

Seventh Circuit Court Shuts Down Koch-Tied Judge

On September 24, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Judge Randa to throw out the federal lawsuit filed by Wisconsin Club for Growth and its director Eric O'Keefe, declaring that Randa never should have taken the case in the first place. The unanimous decision was authored by Judge Frank Easterbrook, a Ronald Reagan appointee and prominent conservative jurist. Easterbrook, writing for the three-judge panel, held that Randa's May 6 ruling halting the investigation was "imprudent," "unnecessary," and "an abuse of discretion." The court held that Randa ran afoul of the federal Anti-Injunction Act barring federal courts from enjoining state proceedings, as well as judicial principles of federalism and comity.[174] According to Easterbrook, "State courts are free to conduct their own litigation, without ongoing supervision by federal judges, let alone threats by federal judges to hold state judges in contempt."[175]

The Seventh Circuit Court also rejected Randa's claim that "issue ad" coordination not only does not violate state law, but that it is protected First Amendment activity. "No opinion issued by the Supreme Court, or by any court of appeals, establishes . . . that the First Amendment forbids regulation of coordination between campaign committees and issue-­advocacy groups—let alone that the First Amendment forbids even an inquiry into that topic," Easterbrook wrote.[174]

Lawsuits Against State Cost Taxpayers Hundreds of Thousands

In September 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, "The cost to taxpayers for defending the state against lawsuits over an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker and his allies has quickly escalated to more than $672,000." The bulk of the money was spent defending "Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz and other officials who have been sued in federal court" over the investigation.[176] As described above, those suits were eventually rejected by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Potential Conflicts of Interest at Court Deciding Future of John Doe

As of September 24, 2014, the future of the John Doe investigation rested in Wisconsin courts. The probe had been halted in January, but the judge who issued that order later stayed his own order, acknowledging long-standing Wisconsin precedent on coordinated issue advocacy and calling the prosecutors' theory an "arguable interpretation" of the statutes. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has been asked to resolve the dispute between dueling interpretations of Wisconsin campaign finance law, but as of September 30, 2014 had not moved to make a decision. A petition has also been filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but that court had not acted as of September 30, 2014. As the Center for Media and Democracy reported, four of the seven members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court have a potential conflict of interest in hearing the case. At least two of the groups under investigation in the probe, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, played a key role in electing the four justices in the conservative majority, in most cases spending more than the candidates themselves.[174]

Docs Show Walker Campaign Solicited Funds for WCFG, Emphasized "No Donor Disclosure"

While Walker and his staff have repeated prosecutor Francis Schmitz's statement that the Governor "is not a target" of the investigation, court documents unsealed in August 2014 show that Walker is implicated in the investigation.[145] The documents suggest showed that Walker made personal appeals to out-of-state billionaires and millionaires to raise funds for WiCFG -- which spent $9.1 million on the recalls and acted as a "hub" for funneling millions more to other groups -- and evidence indicates that his campaign also worked with WiCFG on how those funds were spent.[145][177][178] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that according to the documents, "Gov. Scott Walker prodded outside groups and individuals to funnel millions of dollars into Wisconsin Club for Growth."[179]

Walker campaign consultant Kim Doner stated in an April 2014 email sent to R.J. Johnson , an advisor to both Walker's campaign and WiCFG, "The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure."[179] In the same message, Doner wrote, "As the Governor discussed . . . he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging."[179] This statement undermines claims that Walker's campaign did not coordinate spending with WCFG and other groups. Other evidence of possible coordination, as reported by the Center for Media and Democracy, includes evidence that R. J. Johnson approved and signed-off on the content of ads for both the Walker campaign and WiCFG, further indicating overlap between the campaign and WiCFG on ad expenditures.[145]

Walker had told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in December 2012 that "The more transparency involved, the more people could hold folks accountable, for whether it's $5 or $500, or whatever the amount may be." But shortly afterward, campaign aide Kelly Rindfleisch wrote the opposite in a set of talking points for Walker. "Stress that donations to WiCFG are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits," she wrote. "Let them know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported."[145]

According to the Journal Sentinel, WiCFG "received large checks from donors soon after Walker was advised to solicit funds from them for the group." Some of those contributions include:[179]

  • Gogebic Taconite, $700,000
  • Paul Singer, hedge fund CEO, $250,000
  • Maclean-Fogg Co., $100,000
  • Trust of David Hanna, CEO of Atlanticus Holdings, $50,000
  • Bruce Kovner, hedge fund chairman, $50,000
  • Devon Energy, $50,000
  • Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, $15,000
  • Donald Trump, $15,000

List of Exhibits Showing "Walker Solicited Donations to WiCFG"

The following is a list of supporting exhibits included in the case documents, based on which Investigator Robert Stetler concluded that "Governor Walker solicited donations to WiCFG":[180]

  • [Id. at ¶ 12; Exhibit 2] An April 28, 2011 email from Kate Doner to R.J. Johnson that states, "As the Governor discussed . . . he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging. We had some past problems with multiple groups doing work on 'behalf' of Gov. Walker and it caused some issues. In Wisconsin, a 501(c)(4) is the legal vehicle that runs the media/outreach/GOTV campaign. The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure [sic]" (emphasis added).
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 13-15; Exhibit 3] A June 20, 2011 email from Kelly Rindfleisch to Walker that forwards an itinerary for a fundraising trip that provides background on donors Walker was scheduled to meet. Among the talking points related to these scheduled meetings are the following: "Stress that donations to WiCFG are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits"; and "Let them know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported." The talking points also encourage Scott Walker to request contributions for "your 501c4."
  • [Id. at ¶ 19; Exhibit 9] A September 7, 2011 email from Kate Doner to Walker, R.J. Johnson, Keith Gilkes, and Kelly Rindfleisch, containing "quick thoughts on raising money for Walker's possible recall efforts." In regard to "CFG" (Club for Growth), these thoughts were suggested: "Take Koch's money"; "Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now"; "Corporations. Go heavy after them to give"; and "Create a new c4." (emphasis added)
  • [Id. at ¶ 20; Exhibit 10] A March 20, 2012 email from Kate Doner's associate to Walker relating to a scheduled meeting with an individual donor. The email advised Scott Walker that "[t]his meeting is for WiCFG Funds" and noted, "THE ASK: contribute $100k to WiCFG."
  • [Id. at ¶ 21; Exhibit 11] A March 30, 2012 email to Walker in which the unidentified email sender writes, "Ill find out about party limits but make sure he gives to WiCFG."
  • [Id. at ¶ 40; Exhibit 29] In 2011, Wisconsin Club for Growth sponsored ads supporting Walker.
  • [Id. at ¶ 32; Exhibit 22] A June 1, 2011 email from Kelly Rindfleisch to Scott Walker containing "talking points" for a scheduled meeting with a donor: "Would he give $250k for your 501c4. Let him know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported."
  • [Id. at ¶ 39; Exhibit 28] An August 18, 2011 email from Keith Gilkes to Scott Walker with "suggested remarks by RJ" for a "Donor Call": "Our efforts were run by Wisconsin Club for Growth and operatives R.J. Johnson and Deb Jordahl, who coordinated spending through 12 different groups. Most spending by other groups was directly funded by grants from the club." The email also reflects that "Wisconsin Club for Growth raised 12 million dollars and ran a soup to nuts campaign" (emphasis added).
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 46, 67-68; Exhibits 35, 36, 62-64] A December 19, 2011 email indicating Walker was to be a participant in a conference call on December 22, 2011 that was arranged by James Buchen of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce ("WMC"). The purpose of the conference call was to discuss the pending recall elections. Bank records from WiCFG reflect that WMC was the recipient of over $2.5 million dollars in 2012 from WiCFG. As summarized by Mr. Stelter, "WMC and WMC Issue Mobilization Council Inc. subsequently produced and aired advertisements promoting Governor Scott Walker and criticizing Mayor Tom Barrett, who was subsequently the Democratic candidate opposing Scott Walker during the gubernatorial recall campaign."
  • [Id. at ¶ 51; Exhibits 42, 100] A February 23, 2012 itinerary of Walker that reflects a conference call with David Hanna. On February 27, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflected a wire transfer of $50,000 from the account of the David William Hanna Trust.
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 53, 55; Exhibits 44, 100] A March 7, 2012 email from Kate Doner to Walker advising him regarding "meetings to make happen while in Sea Island . . . . Paul Singer: Grab him." On May 8, 2012, $250,000 was deposited into the WiCFG account via wire transfer from the account of Paul Singer.
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 54, 56; Exhibits 45, 47] A March 10, 2012 email Walker sent to Kate Doner stating that "Bruce and Suzie Kovner said they want to give more." On March 22, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflected a deposit of $50,000 from the account of Bruce Kovner. The memo line of the check reflects the check is for "501c4-Walker."
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 52, 56; Exhibits 44, 47] A March 10, 2012 itinerary that indicates Walker met with Barry Maclean, the CEO of the Maclean-Fogg Company. On May 17, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflects a deposit of $100,000 from the Maclean-Fogg Company.
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 52, 56; Exhibits 44, 47] A March 10, 2012 itinerary that indicates Walker met with Michael Sullivan of SAC Capital Advisers. On April 13, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflects a $1,000,000 deposit from the account of Stephen Cohen, the founder and manager of SAC Capitol Advisors.
  • [Id. at ¶ 61; Exhibits 53, 55] A March 30, 2012 email that indicates Scott Walker was meeting with Donald Trump. WiCFG bank records reflect a $15,000 contribution from Donald Trump on April 3, 2012.
  • [Id. at ¶ 63; Exhibits 56, 57] On April 10, 2012, Jennifer Bannister sent an e-mail to Governor Walker regarding a phone call with Ken Langone in which she asked, "How did the phone call with Langone go this morning?" WiCFG bank records reflect that on April 10, 2012, Mr. Langone made a $15,000 contribution to WiCFG.
  • [Id. at ¶ 64; Exhibits 58, 59] An April 17, 2012 email to Walker advising him to ask Larry Nichols, Chairman of Devon Energy, to contribute "$250k in support of your recall" (emphasis in the original). WiCFG bank records reflect a $50,000 contribution from Devon Energy on May 3, 2012.
  • [Id. at ¶¶ 65, 66; Exhibits 60, 61] An April 20, 2012 email to Walker, among others, providing a briefing for a meeting on that day facilitated by Eric O'Keefe with Keith and Richard Colburn. Scott Walker was to attend the meeting for the solicitation of $100,000 "in support of the recall." On April 27, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflects a deposit of $25,000 from the account of "K. Colburn." On May 7, 2012, the WiCFG bank account reflects a deposit of $50,000 from the account of Richard Colburn.
  • [Id. at ¶ 69; Exhibit 66] A January 6, 2012 email from Nonbox (a media production company) to R.J. Johnson, Deborah Jordahl, and Keith Gilkes. Attached was a preliminary ad for review. In reference to this email, among others, Mr. Stelter summarized as follows: "R.J. Johnson was involved in the recall campaign not only in conjunction with the activities of WiCFG, but as a paid advisor to FOSW. He provided guidance and approval for ads; he was also involved in FOSW campaign strategy."
  • [Id. at ¶ 69; Exhibit 67] A February 29, 2012 email from Walker containing a script. R.J. Johnson advised Governor Walker that they could talk about it at "Pro-video" and "we'll make it all work."
  • [Id. at ¶ 77; Exhibit 74.2] Bank records indicate that Citizens for a Strong America (CFSA) was the recipient of at least $1.52 million dollars in 2012 from WiCFG. Mr. Stelter summarizes that "Jordahl and R.J. Johnson were involved with the activities of CFSA that functioned as a conduit for funded activities of other organizations in support of Governor Walker against the recall."

Mining Company's $700,000 Raises Pay-to-Play Concerns

The mining company Gogebic Taconite contributed $700,000 to WCFG in 2011 and 2012, as shown by documents accidentally released along with the August 2014 unsealing. At the time, Gogebic was seeking approval for a controversial open pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an investigator for the prosecution said, "Because Wisconsin Club for Growth's fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker's agents at the time of Gogebic's donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited."[181] Walker has denied that he had a role in soliciting the donation.[182] As the Center for Media and Democracy pointed out, without the John Doe criminal investigation that led to the examination of WCFG's secret bank account, the $700,000 secret gift from Gogebic would be totally unknown and unknowable. "The only protection the citizens of the state have against quid pro quo corruption is disclosure," said Wisconsin Common Cause director Jay Heck.[178]

Supporting Documents

2010-2013 "John Doe" Criminal Investigation of Scott Walker's Former Staff and Associates

Starting in September of 2010 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel[183] detailed an ongoing "John Doe" criminal investigation involving Scott Walker's former staff and associates. The wide-ranging investigation included allegations of campaign finance malfeasance, embezzlement of funds from a veteran's charity, bid-rigging and even child enticement. The investigation resulted in 15 felony indictments for six people who have been sentenced. John Doe investigations are secret proceedings, before a single judge, where witnesses can be subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath about potential criminal matters, but are prohibited from speaking publicly about the case. The scope and targets of these investigations are unclear as a result of these gag rules.[184]

John Doe I Document Dump February 19, 2014

For an archive of publicly available documents on the two “John Doe” criminal investigations involving Scott Walker and his associates, see the page Scott Walker John Doe Documents.

John Doe I Investigation Closed

On March 1, 2013, Milwaukee Country prosecutors shut down the long running "John Doe" probe into corruption in Scott Walker's office during the time he served as Milwaukee County Executive. Six people were charged and convicted, including three former Walker staff, but no charges were brought against Walker. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm issued a brief, telling statement: "After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded."[185]

Final Legal Tab Totals $650,000 in John Doe I

Upon the conclusion of the investigation, Walker shut down his legal defense fund. A Government Accountability Board (GAB) rule allows public officials who are under investigation for ethics violations to set up a legal defense fund. [186] The rule allowed him to transfer funds from his campaign to the defense fund with the consent of the contributors.[187] The final legal bill came to $650,000 that was paid out to two high-powered criminal defense lawyers, the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich for help with compliance issues, one public relations firm, and a small amount was paid to a Madison law firm for record-keeping related to the defense fund.[188]

Secret Email System Revealed in John Doe I

The John Doe investigation has uncovered that Walker's former staffers set up a secret wireless network in his County Executive office, during the time Walker served as Milwaukee County Executive but was running for governor.[189] The scandal broke into the open when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Darlene Wink, a low-level constituent services coordinator, was caught Facebooking nasty comments about Walker's democratic campaign opponents while working at her county job. Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice, who was tipped off about the on-line activity, interviewed Wink, but wasn't sure how big of a deal it was until he was called by the Walker team a few hours later and was told she had resigned.[190]

Now we know from the indictments that the activity went far beyond Facebook. Investigators found boxes for two wireless routers in an armoire in Walker's County Executive office. Packaging labels found with the boxes bore the name "Timothy Russell," Walker's deputy chief of staff. The allegation is that Russell set up an unofficial networking system so that staffers could conduct campaign business on their personal laptops while their salaries were being paid by the taxpayers. The secret email system was available for use by certain staff for both official and unofficial business. Its existence was "never disclosed to county employees outside a closely held group within the Walker administration," says the indictments (available here). On county time, the staffers allegedly communicated extensively with Walker campaign staff, organized fundraisers, made invitations, exchanged fundraising lists and sent out campaign press releases. [191]

Walker Email "No Laptops, No Websites"

The indictments include dozens of telling emails and chat sessions with county and campaign staff about political activities. In a chat session with Russell, Wink explicitly inquired about how to delete and destroy documents. She asked Russell: "How do I get rid of the PDF from my IM?" "I don't want to go to jail for this, ha ha."

Walker email jpeg.jpg

After the story about Wink's activities was printed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the morning of May 14, 2010. Walker sent the email above to Russell at 8:46 a.m. telling him simply "we cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc." [191]

FBI Raids Home of Walker's Former Top Aide

On September 14, about a dozen FBI agents and other law enforcement officers descended upon Cynthia "Cindy" Archer's Madison home at 6:45 a.m. and seized boxes of materials. At the time of the raid, Archer was a top aide to Governor Walker in the Wisconsin Department of Administration, but formerly she served as one of his top aides when he was Milwaukee County Executive. Archer's neighbor said FBI agents also confiscated a hard drive he bought from her at a garage sale a few weeks ago.[192] Archer was the third Walker aide to have computers seized as part of the "John Doe" investigation led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Before he was Governor, Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive, and Chisholm has apparently been investigating whether county staffers in Walker's office did unlawful campaign-related work while at their county jobs. Archer has not been charged with any crimes.[184]

6 People Indicted, 15 Felony Indictments, 6 Sentenced

Indictees.jpg


  • Timothy Russell (former top aide, holding over eight positions including deputy chief of staff, to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): charged with 2 felonies, and one misdemeanor related to embezzlement of veterans funds. Read the criminal complaint here. Russell was sentenced to "two years in prison and five years on probation for stealing more than $21,000 from a veterans organization Walker named him to lead."[193]
  • Brian Pierick (boyfriend of Timothy Russell): charged with 2 felonies, including child enticement and exposing sex organ and pubic area. Read the criminal complaint here. In February 2013 Pierick was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and a $2,100 fine after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.[194]
  • Kevin Kavanaugh (appointed by Walker as county veterans official): charged with 5 felonies related to embezzlement of veterans funds. Read the criminal complaint here. Kavanaugh was convicted by jury and was sentenced on December 7th, 2012 to two years in prison and two years of extended supervision.[195][196]
  • Kelly Rindfleisch (former top aide to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): charged with 4 felonies relating to political fundraising while on the county payroll. Read the criminal complaint here. Her trial was set to begin the week of October 15, 2012 in Milwaukee County Court. On Monday, October 8, 2012 Rindfleisch's lawyers subpoenaed the Governor to testify in her trial. The next day, news broke that Rindfleisch had reached a plea deal with Milwaukee prosecutors. News reports indicate that she will plead guilty to one felony count of misconduct in office in an attempt to avoid jail time.[197] Rindfleisch was in particular jeopardy, because she had been implicated in similar activities in the past and was granted immunity in an earlier "caucus scandal," which resulted in sentences of jail time for more than one Wisconsin legislator and the disbanding of partisan political caucuses in the state legislature in 2001. Rindfleisch is scheduled to be in court on Thursday, October 11 for a judge to decide on the plea deal. The trial is cancelled, so Walker will no longer have to testify.[197] The plea deal can be accessed here. She entered the guilty plea and was convicted of one of the felony counts. On November 19, 2012 she was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation on a single felony count of misconduct in office.[198][199]
  • Darlene Wink (former aide to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): pleaded guilty to 2 unclassified misdemeanors as part of a plea deal that she made with the prosecutors related to political fundraising while on the county payroll. Read the complaint here. Her sentencing hearing has been delayed several times to ensure her full cooperation in other investigations. [200] In January 2013 Wink was sentenced to a year's probation, 50 hours of community service and $1,000 in fines.[201]
  • William Gardner (President and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad): pleaded guilty to 2 felony charges relating to campaign finance violations read the criminal complaint here. Gardner pleaded guilty to felony violations of Wisconsin campaign law in April of 2011. Gardner tried to convince prosecutors that his $60,000 in illegal contributions, which he funneled through staff and girlfriends, was an innocent mistake, except he had done the same thing the previous year.[202] Gardner was sentenced to 2 years probation and 50 hours of community service. [203]

Scott Walker's Criminal Defense Attorneys

Steinle and Gallo.jpg

Campaign finance reports released in May 2012 disclose that Walker transferred $100,000 into his criminal defense fund, "Scott Walker Trust" [204], in addition to the $60,000 in his last report. Add this to the $160,000 that has already been paid to campaign attorneys [204] and it brings the total amount of legal fees disclosed so far to $320,000. Walker continues to receive donations above the $10,000 individual limit which is allowable only if he uses the funds to pay old bills.[205] However, many are speculating that Walker will use the funds to pay undisclosed legal bills. Walker is the only governor in the nation with a criminal defense fund due to a wide-ranging John Doe investigation by the Milwaukee District Attorney's office into his former staff and associates.

IRS reports released in early 2013 show Walker transferred another $40,000 from his campaign fund at the end of 2012 to his legal fund; $25,000 going to Michael Steinle's firm and $15,000 to John Gallo's. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Walker campaign spokeswoman Nicole Tieman explained the funds were used to cover "...work done to cooperate with authorities over the past year."[206]

Walker hired two attorneys to represent him in this ongoing investigation, Michael J. Steinle, a high-profile, Milwaukee criminal defense attorney, and John N. Gallo, a former federal prosecutor from Chicago who specializes in grand jury investigations.

Michael Steinle is a criminal defense attorney at the law firm Terschan & Steinle, LTD. He has been included in the Best Lawyers in America and has been selected as one of Wisconsin's Super Lawyers every year since 2005. He has also been recognized in Milwaukee Magazine as one of Milwaukee's Best Criminal Lawyers. [207] He has represented criminal defendants in a variety of cases including homicide, police brutality, public corruption and campaign finance fraud, and white-collar criminal cases. Some of Steinle's cases include a former flag football coach accused of molesting several of his underage players. [208] He also represented clients in several homicide cases, including the high-profile case of Richard Berhens who killed his live-in girlfriend and buried her body,[209] a road-rage killer,[210] and most recently, a teenager accused of murdering his grandfather with an ax.[211]

Some government officials Steinle has represented in criminal cases includes Gary Barczak, a Circuit Court clerk who was convicted of cocaine possession. There was also suspicion of theft due to shortages found in campaign finance reports. [212] He also defended Milwaukee Alderperson, Rosa Cameron, on federal charges of fraud for illegally using federal grant money for her election campaign [213] and Ex-Elkhorn Mayor, Paul D. Ormson, on federal charges of campaign finance fraud [214]

John N. Gallo is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, a large law firm in Chicago. He is a 1986 graduate of Harvard Law and a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. His practice areas include healthcare, securities, white-collar compliance, and grand jury investigations. He has represented a variety of corporate and government clients including, University of Chicago Hospitals, and T.D. Securities.[215] Gallo recently represented Arlington Park horse racing track who were co-defendants with four other horse race tracks, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, and his campaign committee in an action brought by several Illinois riverboat casinos. The casinos alleged that some of Governor Blagojevich's illegal activities in office involved legislation which took money from the casinos and distributed it to the racetracks. [216]

Immunity Deals

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on September 23, 2011 that former Appeals Court Judge Neal Nettesheim, who is overseeing the investigation, acknowledged that he had granted immunity to Walker's Press Secretary, Cullen Werwie, and a number of other individuals. Werwie joined Walker's campaign after the September 2010 primary and stayed on when Walker was sworn in as governor. Werwie had no comment when the story broke. [217] Walker denied any knowledge of the investigation telling a Wisconsin news channel, "We don't know what exactly is involved there until we know any more."[184] The 13th person to be granted immunity, Fran McLaughlin, was announced May 31, 2012.[218] She served as Walker's spokeswoman while he was Milwaukee County executive, and as his communications director from 2007 to 2010.

Full List of People Granted Immunity From Court Records[219]

  • Cullen Werwie: Scott Walker's Current Press Secretary
  • Fran McLaughlin: Scott Walker's Former Press Secretary
  • David Halbrooks: Milwaukee attorney with Democratic ties who specializes in procurement
  • Rose Ann Dieck: retired teacher and Milwaukee County Republican party activist
  • Suzanne Immel: donor to Scott Walker: $500
  • Timothy Karp: Vice President of finance for Wisconsin and Southern Railroad
  • Dale Thomas: donor to Scott Walker: $4,900 (Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Employee)
  • David Hackbarth: donor to Scott Walker: $4,900 (Wisconsin and Southern railroad employee)
  • James Lombard: donor to Scott Walker: $5,000 (Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Employee)
  • Bernard Meighan: donor to Scott Walker: $5,000. (Railroad Superintendent for Maintenance)
  • Steven Beske: donor to Scott Walker: $5,000 (Railroad Employee)
  • Gilbert Loberg:donor to Scott Walker: $5,000 ( Railroad Accountant)
  • Kenneth Lucht: donor to Scott Walker: $5,000 (Government Relations specialist for the Railroad)


With John Doe Investigation Closed, Media Organizations Seek Emails and Other Documents Related to Illegal Conduct in Scott Walker's County Executive Office

Even after the John Doe investigation into the Milwaukee County Executive's office was closed, thousands of documents and emails that were part of the inquiry remained under court seal. If the documents were still in the possession of the County, they would be accessible to the public via Wisconsin's freedom of information/public records act.

"The county records belong to the citizens of Milwaukee County, and the citizens of Milwaukee County have a legal right to know what's in them," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board wrote.[220]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Seeks to Reopen John Doe for Hearing on Public Access to Records

In a motion filed September 18, 2013, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and reporter David Umhoefer moved for:

"..the return of the Records and associated computer devices, originated and owned by Milwaukee County, to the County's possession where the newspaper and the public may have access to them in accordance with the Open Records Law.î[221]

In the motion, the newspaper argues for the release of these documents and emails based on:

  • The newspaper's right to intervene on the public's behalf.
  • The fact that every John Doe proceeding is, by its nature, a matter of public interest.
  • The nature of this proceeding, in particular, because it involved public officials and the abuse of public resources.
  • The presumption under Wisconsin law that the records are open, as they involved the public affairs of Milwaukee County.
  • Milwaukee County's right to retain their own copies of the records -and their duty to "safely keep and preserve" the records under Wis. Stat. 19.21(1).
  • The fact that the emails would have been public if the officials involved had not purposely set up secret emails to avoid disclosure.
  • The newspaper's recognition of permissible claims of secrecy regarding documents from the John Doe proceedings. The motion does not request the release of any questions, answers or transcripts recorded during the John Doe investigations or proceedings
  • Public policy which demands the greatest possible access to information related to the affairs of government and government representatives.
  • The assumption that the disclosure of important public documents should not be subject to "piecemeal" exceptions.
  • The increasingly tenuous justification for secrecy as the cases come to a close.
  • The requirement that John Doe proceedings be "drawn as narrowly as is reasonable," and the absence of a need for secrecy in this case. Secrecy in John Doe cases is only reasonable for the following reasons:
(1) Keeping knowledge from defendant's who might otherwise attempt to escape.
(2) Prevent the defendant from collecting perjured testimony to use at trial.
(3) Prevent persons from tampering with the prosecution's evidence or testimony.
(4) Creating an environment where witnesses feel more at ease disclosing information.
(5) Prevent testimony that isn't true from becoming public.

The Milwaukee Journal argues that none of these justifications apply to the records in contest.

The motion also reveals that the newspaper attempted to retrieve these documents through a few different channels. These attempts included: An open records request to Milwaukee County during the course of the John Doe proceeding (Milwaukee County could not comply because they did not keep copies of the records); an open records request to Judge Neal Nettesheim from David Umhoefer, sent on July 3, 2013; and a letter from the editor of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to the Milwaukee County Executive, requesting "he procure the return of the Records and computers belonging to Milwaukee country but still under the deal of the John Doe proceeding."[221]

Motion to Intervene in Kelly Rindfleisch Appeal

In a separate but related proceeding, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- along with several other media organizations-- moved to intervene in the criminal appeal of Scott Walker's former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch to gain access to the underlying John Doe records. The judge hearing the appeal, Judge Patricia Curley, ordered that Rindfleisch's case file be supplemented with emails and other records that had been sealed as part of the John Doe; Rindfleisch asked the judge to continue keeping those records secret, and the media organizations have intervened in the case to argue that the records should be public.

These records, the news organizations claim, are the property of Milwaukee County for the same reasons articulated in the September 18 motion. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attorney Robert Dreps argued: "This is a criminal case in which a defendant, convicted and sentenced in a public proceeding involving the use of public resources with evidence from public records, has exercised her right to appeal," "there is nothing private about it."[222]

On October 9, 2013, the news organizations' motion for intervention was granted, allowing intervention "for the sole purpose" of opposing Ms. Rindfleisch's motion to seal the documents in her appeal."[223]. On October 29, 2013, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced his support for the position that the documents be made public. In a statement made on behalf of the state Department of Justice, assistant Attorney General Christopher Wren noted:

"Except for the John Doe secrecy order, the documents in the supplemental record do not appear exceptional or privileged. If the state had presented those documents directly in a criminal proceeding rather than in a John Doe proceeding governed by a secrecy order, the public ... could have accessed and examined those documents long ago..."[224]

Rindfleisch, who pled guilty to official misconduct "for doing campaign work at her government job" in 2012, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation.[225] As she appeals her conviction, Ms. Rindfleisch has requested that her emails and other records continue to be sealed. [225]

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Scandals

One of the first changes Walker made after taking office was replacing the Wisconsin Department of Commerce with the privatized Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2011 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)[226], which lost track of over $12 million in economic development loans in 2012. It is worth noting that Walker pledged to create 250,000 jobs during the campaign, but by the end of his first term Wisconsin had only established 144,595 private sector jobs, "58 percent of the total promised, or 105,405 short," Politifact reports.[227] "Wisconsin gained 27,491 private-sector jobs in the 12 months from September 2013 through September 2014, a 1.16% increase that gives Wisconsin a rank of 40th among the 50 states in the pace of job creation in that period," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on March 19, 2015.[228] This privatization was criticized from the very beginning citing concerns over public accountability, open government, and lack of public input about how the money will be used. There were also concerns because a similar plan was implemented in Indiana which was experiencing numerous problems. [226] [229]

Unpaid Taxpayer-Funded $500,000 WEDC Loan Driven by Top Walker Aides

The Wisconsin State Journal uncovered in a recent investigation that an unsecured WEDC loan for $500,000 to Building Committee Inc. [BCI] that has not been repaid was pushed by top Walker aides, including second in command Mike Huebsch and chief of staff Keith Gilkes, and lobbyist Eric Petersen.[230] Matthew DeFour and Dee J. Hall, the authors of the investigation, found that "[Paul]Jadin, WEDC’s first chief executive, said [Wiiliam]Minahan and [Mike]Huebsch initially sought a $4.3 million forgivable loan for BCI, which specialized in building bank and credit union buildings. The company said its project to retrofit financial buildings for energy efficiency would generate 155 jobs in Wisconsin."[230] The unsecured loan was granted following a $10,000 contribution to Walker's 2010 campaign for Governor by Minahan, owner of BCI.[230] The deal not only lost the state of Wisconsin $500,000 but also provided "no jobs and raised questions about where the money went."[230] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that Walker, who serves as chairman of the WEDC, received a letter detailing the deal but he now denies receiving it.[231] When asked to comment on the bad loan deal, Walker called the report "a partisan witch hunt."[231] Democratic lawmakers in the State Assembly have called for a federal investigation into the WEDC and its loan to BCI.[231] Yet Walker continues to defend WEDC in public.[232] The Wisconsin State Journal article follows a damning 2015 audit of the WEDC.[233]

Walker Drops Merger of WEDC and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority(WHEDA) Following Audit

Following an an independent audit of WEDC that found that the group was ignoring state laws and its own directives, Walker has given up on his proposed merger of WEDC with WHEDA.[133] As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The audit found some companies receiving state help were not required to submit records to verify job creation; contracts with companies didn't always include provisions required by law; and WEDC didn't verify information submitted by companies on jobs created."[133] Walker said in statement,

"After hearing concerns from legislators, stakeholders, and the (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) and WEDC boards, we asked legislators to remove the proposed agency mergers from the state budget and we asked the bill authors to not move forward with the proposed separate legislation. Given the issues raised at the recent joint WEDC/WHEDA board meeting, it is not the appropriate time to pursue these proposals."[133]

"Critics of the Governor, including Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate, cited the new data as evidence of his 'ineptitude…bordering on criminal negligence' and called for legislators to pass reforms," Think Progress reported.[234]

The audit released on May 8th, 2015 found[133]:

  • Companies receiving state incentives were not always required by contract to submit information such as payroll records to verify their job creation targets.
  • In 2014, WEDC decreased its balance of past due loans by $4.2 million by amending 13 loan contracts to defer loan repayments, writing off nine loans and forgiving two more.
  • In its policies for awarding tax credits, WEDC did not include all of the requirements contained in state law. Agency officials also did not consistently evaluate whether businesses met all the eligibility requirements that were in those policies.
  • Auditors examined 18 contracts and found in cases involving millions of dollars that WEDC awarded credits without staff showing they had verified that the state credits were needed and that the company's net tax liability met the necessary threshold. In one case, a company was awarded $4.5 million but the WEDC review did not include financial information on the soundness of the firm.
  • WEDC's October 2014 economic development program report didn't contain accurate and complete information on outcomes such as job creation and didn't verify the information submitted by companies on the number of positions created.
  • WEDC staff waived loan origination fees of $114,000 for five companies despite the fact that policies at the time didn't allow that. The agency has since stopped requiring the fees.
  • Contracts with award recipients didn't always require those companies to meet the program wage targets in place at the time for the jobs being created.
  • A July 2014 revision of the rules for one tax credit program dropped a requirement in state law that a portion of the credits be awarded to rural areas and to small businesses.

WEDC Spends Over $200M, Creates Only 5,840 Actual Jobs in Two Years

From a report by Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.[235]

In October 2011 the WEDC governing board chaired by Walker approved an operations plan that set the agency a goal of creating or retaining 50,000 jobs in Fiscal Year 2012.[236] WEDC's board is required to set performance goals for each of its many economic development programs and to report to the Legislature "expected" vs. "actual" results. At the end of 2012, when WEDC was required to issue its first report documenting how many of the 50,000 jobs it had created, WEDC reported 23,759 jobs "impacted" in FY 2012.[237] This new term combines "expected" jobs and "retained" jobs. It allows WEDC to avoid reporting "actual" jobs.[235]

Asked about the term, subsidy expert Greg LeRoy at the national nonprofit research group Good Jobs First said, "I am not aware of any other state that uses the term impacted in this way. It is a vague and not very meaningful measure."[235]

Nowhere in its 2012 annual report does WEDC say how many jobs were actually created that year, but its official database documents only 1,044 "actual" jobs reported by companies that year. (Note: For 2012 and 2013, CMD excluded jobs that were reported to be created before financial aid was received from WEDC.)[235]

At the end of 2013, WEDC told the Legislature and the public it had "impacted" 37,313 jobs.[238] No actuals were included in the report to the Legislature, but its official database includes documentation for 4,796 "actual" jobs. In sum, Walker's official jobs database can document only 5,840 "actual" jobs reported to be created by firms for FY 2012 and FY 2013. Note that these are jobs created through the efforts of WEDC, and the numbers are separate from the state's job numbers reported monthly and quarterly by the federal government.[235]

To create those jobs over a two-year period, some $203 million in taxpayer money was spent in grants, loans and bonding authority.[235]

While WEDC was busy handing out grants, many Wisconsin companies were cutting back or going under. In order to prepare workers and communities for mass layoffs, Wisconsin law requires that businesses with over 50 employees give 60-day advance warning of mass layoffs or closures. In the same two-year period in which the WEDC database indicates 5,840 jobs were created, the state's WARN data set indicates that 13,616 jobs were lost in the state due to layoffs or closures, meaning that throughout this period, more than two jobs were lost in the state for every job gained through WEDC's efforts. (Note: CMD excluded notices that had been rescinded or reported earlier.)[235]

Click here to see the data sets collected by CMD.

Legislative Audit Bureau Report, May 2013

The May, 2013 Report released by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau reported on WEDC's administration of its economic development programs, the results achieved by those economic development programs, and WEDC's financial management, personnel management, and governance issues.

The highlights of the report are as follows: [239]

  • WEDC did not have sufficient policies to administer its grant, loan, and tax credit programs effectively, including some statutorily required policies.
  • WEDC had no policies for determining how to handle delinquent loan amounts.
  • WEDC did not consistently follow statutes or its existing policies when making awards.
    • A review of 64 awards that WEDC made in FY 2011-12 showed that WEDC made some awards to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for amounts that exceeded limits specified in its policies.
    • WEDC lacked invoices or other contractually required documentation showing that authorized costs were incurred for 7 of 29 grant and loan awards that were reviewed.
    • Four contracts executed through the Jobs Tax Credit program allocated four businesses a total of $906,000 in tax credits for job creation and employee training that had occurred before the contracts were executed.
    • Statutes require WEDC's governing board to stipulate contractually that recipients of grants and loans of $100,000 or more must provide a verified financial statement, signed by an independent certified public accountant and by the recipient's principal officer, describing how the funds were spent. The review included 14 grant and loan contracts of at least $100,000 for which the recipients had spent all awarded funds as of December 2012. Information provided by WEDC indicated that 12 recipients had not submitted the statutorily required verified financial statements.
  • Statutes require WEDC's governing board to establish goals and expected results for each of its programs, monitor the contractually specified performance of recipients of financial awards, and report publicly on program results.
    • Expected results were not established for 10 of WEDC's 30 programs in FY 2011-12.
    • Information provided by WEDC indicates that from July 2011 through December 2012, recipients of 59 awards that were reviewed submitted 45.0 percent of 40 contractually required reports on their progress toward meeting their contractual terms.
    • Statutes require the governing board to verify the performance information reported by a sample of grant and loan recipients, and from July 2011 through December 2012, WEDC conducted no such verification efforts.
    • Statutes require the governing board to report to the Legislature annually on each economic development program administered, including information on expected and actual program outcomes. The report WEDC submitted in November 2012 did not contain all required information, contained some inaccurate information, and did not clearly present information about the number of jobs created and retained as a result of its programs. For these reasons, and in the absence of verified performance information, the bureau did not assess the effectiveness of WEDC's economic development programs.
  • Statutes provide WEDC with flexibility to conduct its operations, but WEDC must ensure accountability for, and effective management of, its taxpayer funds.
    • In FY 2011-12, WEDC did not monitor the amounts spent on each of its programs, in part because it was unfamiliar with its accounting system and did not establish accounting policies and procedures.
    • WEDC did not have policies for staff to use to purchase goods and services, including those that would increase the likelihood of receiving desired goods and services at a reasonable price.
    • WEDC did not have sufficient purchasing card policies. The purpose of 56.0 percent of the 141 purchasing card transactions reviewed was not specified.
    • WEDC did not develop its own detailed personnel policies until September 2012. Its full governing board has not always been informed about certain personnel policies and practices, including those pertaining to the amounts and types of staff compensation and fringe benefits.
    • WEDC had incomplete policies pertaining to staff acceptance of gifts from businesses and other organizations.
    • WEDC and its governing board have not always complied with statutory requirements for reporting to the Legislature on WEDC's economic development programs and operations.
    • In March 2013, WEDC's governing board passed a resolution authorizing WEDC to create a nonprofit foundation to solicit donations to promote economic development, and it is not known whether taxpayer funds would support the foundation or whether the foundation would report to the Legislature about its operations.

Ashley Furniture Owners Gave $20,000 to Walker Campaign after Getting $6 Million Tax Credit

In a January 30, 2014 meeting, the WEDC board approved a $6 million enterprise zone tax credit for Ashley Furniture to help it expand its headquarters in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Far from creating jobs, the agreement allowed Ashley to lay off half of its Wisconsin workforce by 2018, an estimated job loss of 1,924 workers, according to memos obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal.[240] Campaign finance records from February 2014 showed that about two weeks after the tax credit deal was approved, four of the owners of Ashley Furniture -- Ronald and Joyce Wanek and Todd and Karen Wanek -- each contributed $5,000 to Friends of Scott Walker, Walker's campaign committee.[241]

$12 Million in State Loans Goes Missing

For over a year, in the wake of the transition from the public Wisconsin Department of Commerce to the quasi-private entity that exists now, the WEDC lost track of approximately $12.2 million in overdue, government-backed loans that were made to businesses. [242] [243] The loans were made to a variety of businesses within the state from northwoods bio-fuel and paper companies, to restaurants and construction companies. Most of the past-due loans were made under the previous Department of Commerce but then the ball was dropped after the transition to the WEDC. Additionally, some of these businesses are now bankrupt. [244]

Skyward "Bid-Rigging" Tax Break Offer

Skyward, a Stevens Point-based Information Systems company, sells school management software for tracking grades, attendance, and other information. It currently serves 220 of Wisconsin's 424 school districts as well as about 1,400 other schools across the U.S. and in five other countries. The 2011 state budget allotted for $15 million to create a statewide information system. During the initial contract bidding process, the WEDC inappropriately offered the company tax breaks if it won the contract which was later rescinded because it was inappropriate and unfair to other bidders. [245] [246] [247]

In the end, this controversy may have cost Skyward the contract which they are now protesting. The contract was instead awarded to Infinite Campus, a Minnesota company which serves fewer districts in Wisconsin than Skyward. Skyward claims their overall cost of the contract was lower than Infinite Campus and cited irregularities in the selection criteria. [248] [249] [250]

HUD Complains of Mishandling of Public Funds

The Wisconsin State Journal first reported on an August 12, 2012 letter from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to WEDC in which HUD complained of several failures of WEDC to follow federal laws and their own policies.[251] Some of the reported findings include:

  • The state gave out aid worth $20,000 per job created to Kapco, a company with a plant in Polk County — twice as much as its own policies allow.
  • Officials failed to check the financial soundness of two companies receiving $1.4 million in federal grants.
  • Eleven out of 20 loans using Community Development Block Grant funds awarded since Jan. 1, 2011, are "forgivable," despite the fact that the state's own policy calls for allowing businesses to get no-payback loans only in "extraordinary circumstances."
  • Questions remain about an $8.6 million chunk of CDBG funds withdrawn under unusual circumstances late last year. [252]

Independent Audit Reports

To address these issues, the WEDC hired 2 independent firms, Financial Institution Products Corporation (FIPCO), a whollyowned subsidiary of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, and accounting firm Schenck SC, to conduct third-party reviews of the agency. One report identified issues with the WEDC's accounting practices and poor monitoring of loans, caused partially by the high turnover and personnel lost after the agency's creation. A second report blamed many of these issues on the how quickly and carelessly the agency was created, incomplete infrastructure, and a lack of formalized policies. [253][254]

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau published an informational report in January 2013. The report outlined the details of the organizational structure, powers, budget, and details of WEDC's projects. It mentioned the reports produced by the two independent auditing firms, and also mentioned that the Legislative Audit Bureau is conducting a program evaluation and financial audit of WEDC that will be completed in the Spring of 2013.

Changes in Leadership

Paul Jardin left as CEO of WEDC in Fall 2012.[255] He was replaced by Reed Hall, former Executive Director of the Marshfield Clinic who also served on the executive committee of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. [256]

2014 Gubernatorial Election

In 2014, Walker faced Democratic challenger Mary Burke in Wisconsin's gubernatorial election. Burke's family founded and owns Trek Bicycles, and Burke herself served as an executive for Trek. Walker won the election with 52.8 percent of the vote. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, his campaign raised over $25 million, significantly more than Burke's $15 million, but outside spending groups also played a large role in the race.[257]

A possible Walker bid for the U.S. Presidency was widely discussed in the media after the election win.[258][259][260] However, as John Nichols of The Nation pointed out, the election results and related polling suggest that Walker's win did not come from broadening his base of support. Nichols writes that "For Republicans beyond Wisconsin, who are interested in growing their base in 2016, "divide and conquer" might not sound like a winning strategy."[261] Walker won the 2014 election with a slightly lower percentage of the vote than he got during the 2012 recall election.

"Compare that with the previous Republican governor of Wisconsin. In 1986, Tommy Thompson was elected with 52 percent of the vote. In his second gubernatorial run, Thompson won 58 percent. In his third campaign, Thompson hit 67 percent.
"For Walker, the record is 52 percent, 53 percent, 52 percent."[261]

Exit polls showed a plurality of voters disagreeing with Walker's performance and positions on key issues. Results for Walker and Burke voters were remarkably divergent,[262] suggesting that Walker continues to be a polarizing figure rather than a unifying one.

  • 58 percent think the economy in their area has worsened or stayed the same under Walker and 53 percent think Wisconsin's overall economy has stayed the same or gotten worse under Walker.
  • 52 percent said Obamacare was either "about right" or "didn't go far enough" and Walker's approve/disapprove for his implementation of Obamacare is 48 percent to 49 percent.
  • 52 percent think gay marriage should be legal in Wisconsin.
  • 64 percent support raising the minimum wage.
  • 55 percent don't think Scott Walker would make a good president.[262][263]

Campaign Ads

The Facts

Walker's first television ad was released on March 7, 2014. According to the Washington Post, his campaign spent about $100,000 on air time.[264] The ad, titled "The Facts," responded to an earlier Burke ad's claims about unemployment rates under Walker.

Creating Jobs

Another Walker ad, "Creating Jobs," was released on September 4, 2014 and repeated the claim that 100,000 jobs were created under Walker. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, "In 2010, Walker promised the state would create 250,000 jobs during his first four years in office. He has come short of that pledge and said this week he would not make a similar one as he makes his bid for a second term."[265]

"Comeback" Ad Prompts Complaints of OSHA Violations

Comeback

In an ad titled "Comeback" and released on September 11, 2014, Walker is seen climbing out of a trench. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the ad drew criticism from Jeff Kaminiski, president of United Steelworkers Local 2006, for advertising unsafe work practices. Kaminski registered a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Possible violations include that the trench is not reinforced, that Walker is not wearing safety goggles or a helmet, and that the ladder is too short, according to Adam Finkel, executive director of the Penn Program on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania and a former OSHA director of health regulations. The Wisconsin State Journal also reported that in the week prior to the ad's release, a man and a toddler were killed in a trench collapse and two construction workers were hospitalized in a separate berm collapse.[266]

Walker Attacks Trek, Prompts GOP Endorsement of Basis for John Doe

Fortune

On July 16, the Walker campaign released an ad, "Fortune," targeting Burke on the subject of Trek and offshoring jobs. As described by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the ad "depicts a woman reading a fairy tale storybook to a girl about "Mary, Mary quite contrary" who earned millions "sending jobs overseas that could have been done in Wisconsin."[267]

Trek responded to the allegations of offshoring by running an ad in the Journal Sentinel in the form of an open letter from Trek president John Burke, who wrote that "Gov. Walker's campaign recently ran an inaccurate political ad about Trek. This compels me to set the record straight." The Wisconsin GOP then filed a complaint with the Wisconsin GAB alleging that the ad should be considered an illegal campaign contribution. As the Center for Media and Democracy pointed out, "unless the Wisconsin GOP knowingly filed a frivolous complaint -- which could subject it to penalties under Wisconsin law -- the Republican Party appears to have acknowledged that the John Doe investigation has legal merit."[268] [[clear}}

Walker Ads Dinged for Using Stock Footage of Foreign Countries

Moving Wisconsin Forward
Anthem

Two of the Walker campaigns ads, "Anthem" (released in April) and "Moving Wisconsin Forward" (released in May), were criticized for using stock footage of foreign countries rather than images of Wisconsin itself. The Capital Times reported of "Anthem":

"The deficit is gone. Taxes are lower. And more people have gone back to work. Kids are going to college. Families are planning vacations," the ad says.
"At that moment, the shot on the screen is a clip of two children jumping from a wooden dock into a lake, with mountains looming just beyond the shore.
"Wisconsin, not being a particularly mountainous state, seems an unlikely location for the picturesque scene. The videographer, it turns out, is North East, England-based photographer Mark Bowden."[269]

"Moving Wisconsin Forward" included video of an empty garage shot by a German photographer to illustrate a claim about job loss while Walker challenger Mary Burke served in the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.[270]

"United Sportsmen of Wisconsin" Grant Scandal

On August 29, 2013, The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation was named the recipient of a $500,000 state grant that many called a "sweetheart deal." Then-Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, who Walker had recently appointed to the Public Service Commission, quietly slipped into the grant into the state budget as he exited the legislature. [271]

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the "grant [was] so narrowly tailored that the United Sportsmen Foundation was all but assured of receiving it," excluding other, more-qualified groups with experience in outdoors education training; the grant was never advertised, so even other groups that would have qualified said they knew nothing about it. United Sportsmen was the only applicant for the grant, and had no record of doing the outdoors training that the grant was written to promote. However, United Sportsmen did have close ties to Suder and other GOP legislators -- for example, one of its leaders was Suder's former chief of staff. [272]

United Sportsmen also endorsed Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election, and its top lobbying priority was in support of a four mile, open-pit iron ore mine that threatens to shut down a large swath of state forest -- which was also Walker's top legislative priority. The group spent more on lobbying in support of Republican priorities like the mine and "Castle Doctrine" laws than anything related to hunting, fishing, or outdoors conservation.

The Center for Media and Democracy also revealed that the organization had deep ties to David Koch's Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Tea Party. "United Sportsmen's website was registered by an AFP staffer, the group coordinated with AFP to send misleading mailers in advance of the 2011 recall elections, and AFP and United Sportsmen co-sponsored a "Freedom Fest" party in advance of the 2012 elections featuring Republican politicians and right-wing personalities. Luke Hilgemann, Suder's former Chief of Staff, until recently headed the Wisconsin chapter of AFP and now is #2 at the national organization. CMD also uncovered how the United Sportsmen Board was populated by right-wing apparatchicks, including John Keegan, head of the Sauk County Tea Party, and Annette Olson, the Americans for Prosperity "Activist of the Year" for 2012 and leader of the Tea Party groups Women United for Liberty and Uninfringed Liberty." [273]

According to Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine), the grant was presented to the budget committee as a competitive opportunity for groups across the state. After the Journal Sentinel exposé, Rep. Mason said, "in hindsight, [the grant] seems like a sweetheart deal for one group that has ties to Scott Suder."</ref name="group">

Members of the budget committee also were not informed that the grant would result in the loss of $28 million dollars in annual federal aid to the state.[274]

Governor Walker's administration was notified about the implications of the grant after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent two warning letters to the state DNR. The letters advised:

"Passage of legislation containing wording similar to motion 527 would violate (state law) and run counter to federal regulations, making Wisconsin ineligible to receive funding through the Sport Fish Restoration and Wildlife Restoration ActsÖ"[274]The DNR also notified Scott Suder and Assistant Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) about the federal funding issues, and the potential loss of $28 million federal dollars. Suder, nearing the end of his term in legislature, and scheduled to begin working for Walker in the Public Service Commission in fall 2013, ignored the warnings. The Walker administration did not contact other legislators on the budget committee on the implications of the grant for federal funding. [274] After the budget provision including the grant was approved in May, Governor Walker modified the measure with his veto pen to ensure that only state money would be used for the grant. This act, "avoided any loss in federal aid, but it also meant that state taxpayers were going to have to pay for the entire grant," the Journal Sentinel reported.[274]

Despite the controversy, in August, a Republican-dominated committee established to award the grant nonetheless approved it for United Sportsmen (the only applicant for the grant). Committee members said that, according to the terms of the budget provision outlining the grant, they had no choice but to award it to United Sportsmen. The only Committee member to vote against their application, citizen appointee Mark LaBarbera, wasn't satisfied that United Sportsmen were eligible for the grant. "As my grandfather used to say, 'this just doesn't smell right,'" he said. [275]

Emails later obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed that just days before the committee approved the $500,000 grant, Suder went on a fishing trip with the head of United Sportsmen and other board members, including former NRA lobbyist Darren LaSorte. Suder said he paid his own way to avoid running afoul of ethics rules, but the trip showed Suder's deep ties to the group -- further drawing into question Suder's assertions that his close ties to the group had no bearing on the grant. [272]

It also turned out that United Sportsmen's President Andy Pantzlaff "misrepresented [United Sportsmens'] federal tax-exempt status to state officials throughout the grant process."

[276] Pantzlaff told the committee reviewing United Sportsmen's grant applicant that the group's 501(c)(3) charitable status had been approved, which was incorrect. [277]

The same day that it was revealed that United Sportsmen had misrepresented its tax status, the Journal Sentinel uncovered that the group's president had been cited in 2005 for hunting without a license.

After weeks of bad press, Gov. Walker cancelled the deal on September 5, 2013.[276]

After the United Sportsmen controversy and public outcry, Suder declined Walker's appointment to the Public Service Commission. In his brief resignation, he stated: "I want to thank you for offering me an opportunity to work with the Public Service Commission, however I must respectfully decline as I have decided to accept a position in the private sector at the Wisconsin Paper Council. Thank you for your consideration."[278]

Many believe that Suder's resignation was prescribed by Gov. Walker in order to, "bur[y] the controversy over the grant." Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee stated:

"While Gov. Walker may hope today's personnel change will allow the GOP sportsmen scandal to dissipate, Wisconsinites will not be so quick to forget Gov. Walker's continued misuse and politicization of Wisconsin's taxpayer dollars. Rep. Suder was not alone in his moves to funnel taxpayer dollars to a political group with little sporting experience."[279]

In January 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed that Wisconsin Club for Growth through Citizens for a Strong America funded United Sportsman's entire 2011 budget. Citizens for a Strong America Inc. gave $235,000 to United Sportsmen in 2011. Newly released filings from United Sportsmen show that CSA's single donation made up the groups entire revenue for that year.[280]

United Sportsmen spent a large amount of that donation, $118,400, to Arena Communications of Salt Lake City, Utah, a firm that helps design and send out mailings to voters. Other Arena clients include Walker, Rep. Paul Ryan, the state GOP and the committee representing Republican state senators. This consulting fee along with other expenditures left the group with $39,044.[280]

The group also has spent $60,387 over the years on lobbying efforts to encourage lawmakers to support sporting legislation, such as the creation of a wolf hunt. United Sportsmen has also supported bills ease the way for a controversial open pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin and to better enable development in wetlands.[280]

2012 Recall Election

Due to the controversy over Walker's bill to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and controversial budget cuts to public education, the University system and health care, a recall campaign was launched against Governor Walker in 2011 and took place on June 5, 2012. Walker won the recall election with 53 percent of the vote, Barrett received 46 percent of the vote.[281]

Barrett Chosen to Face Walker in Historic Recall Election on June 5, 2012

Wisconsin voters chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run against incumbent Walker in the primary for the first gubernatorial recall election in the state's history on May 8, 2012. Barrett got 58 percent of the vote. He was trailed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk at 34 percent, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout at 4 percent, and Secretary of State Doug Lafollette at 3 percent. Wisconsin State Firefighters President, Mahlon Mitchell, easily bested two unknown candidates for the right to run in the recall against Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Walker faced a symbolic challenge from self-described (and attired) "Lincoln" Republican Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who received 3 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. Active campaigning by Walker and full mobilization by right-wing talk radio pumped up voter turnout in the Republican primary to unexpected levels.[282]

Walker Raises and Spends Record Amounts

Walker raised $37 million for the recall election, and spent $36 million. Tom Barrett raised about one sixth of that, spending about $6.5 million total.[283]

As of May, 2012 Walker spent $5 million on direct mail, rivaling the $4.5 million spent on TV. The direct mail allows him to build a national database of funders to tap for the recall.[284]

For a period of time, he was allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money, and he did, many in $250,000 contributions. 74 percent of Walker's individual contributions are from out of state.[284]

Billionaires Fund Walker's Effort to Fight the Recall with $250,000-$500,000 Checks

Walker funders 1.jpg

Due to a quirk in Wisconsin's campaign finance law, Governor Walker was able to raise unlimited amounts of money to fight his recall campaign for a short period of time after the recall papers were filed, but before the official election was scheduled. Numerous people handed Walker unprecedented checks for $250,000-$500,000 dollars. Previously their limit would have been $10,000 for an individual contribution. As of May 29th, 2012 the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reports that Walker's top five campaign donors are Richard DeVos, Diane Hendricks, Bob Perry, Jere Fabick and David Humphreys.[285]

  • Richard DeVos: DeVos of Holland, Michigan is the co-founder of Amway Corp. and owner of the Orlando Magic, DeVos runs the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, a conservative foundation and grant making body formed in 1970. DeVos has been active in the school voucher movement, and Walker expanded Milwaukee's voucher program and established a similar one in eastern Racine County in Wisconsin's 2011-2012 budget. DeVos donated $250,000 to Walker's campaign. [286]
  • Diane Hendricks: Hendricks of Beloit, Wisconsin is owner of ABC Supply, a supply company for contractors of all stripes. Hendricks garnered national attention in May 2012 after a tape was released that shows her asking Walker how he would turn Wisconsin into a "red" state and if he would implement "Right to Work" legislation. Walker responds telling her he would use "divide and conquer" as a strategy against unions, starting first with a "budget adjustment bill" applying to public workers. She gave Walker $500,000 on April 12, 2012 and $10,000 on January 31, 2011, making her his single biggest contributor. Hendricks has given money to Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson, Tommy Thompson and the Republican National Committee and is worth an estimated $2.8 billion. [287]
  • Bob Perry: Perry of Houston, Texas, gave Walker $250,000 on December 4, 2011. Perry's wealth comes from the home-building company Perry Homes, but he is most famous for bankrolling the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," which funded a blistering ad campaign against John Kerry during the 2004 presidential race. He is a big donor to Texas Governor Rick Perry (no relation), and he gave an eye-popping $7 million Karl Rove's American Crossroads group, one of the largest single campaign contributions ever. [288]
  • Jere Fabick: Fabrick of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is CEO of Fabco Equipment, Inc. Jere Fabick gave $250,000 to Walker in 2011 and 2012. In 2003, Fabick was fined for violations of Wisconsin's limit on political contributions for previous Republican Governor Scott McCallum. [289]

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. WDC's data shows that Walker's major contributors include a diversity of national and state-based firms, including Koch Industries, AT&T, Wal-Mart, John Deere Tractor, Johnsonville Brats, MillerCoors, Kwik Trip, Sargento Cheese, and SC Johnson & Sons (producers of Windex, Glade, Pledge etc).[291]

Koch-Funded AFP and RGA Spend Big for Walker

Walker is also backed by huge independent expenditures from the Republican Governor's Association and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Group. Americans For Prosperity has spent $2-3 million each on TV ads in support of Walker, while the ad spending by the Republican Governor's Association and their local PAC, Right Direction Wisconsin, has been estimated to be as high as $5 million two weeks before the recall. [292] Both groups are anticipated to spend much more.[282]

Scott Walker's Budget

An analysis by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families' Wisconsin Budget Project iterates the impact of the Walker Administration's budget cuts on working families.

Budget cuts are significant aspect of the drive to recall Governor Walker. More details on the budget are at the Scott Walker Budget page.

Victory

Scott Walker eventually defeated Barrett, becoming the first governor in United States history to successfully resist a recall. Walker won 53 percent of the vote compared to Barrett's 47 percent of the vote. [293] Ultimately, about 80 million was spent on the election, most of this money was spent on behalf of Governor Walker and most of it was spent on television advertising. [294]

"Unintimidated," Book with Former George W. Bush Speechwriter

"Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge." is the title of the book Walker worked on with former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen.[295] It was released on November 19, 2013.[296]

Publisher Adrian Zackheim said in a statement: "This book tells the dramatic story of how one brave leader drove real change in his state, and what the rest of the country can learn from him. It's not just a memoir -- it's a call to action."[297]

Book "Leaves Out Many Pieces in the Story"

The book was critiqued by Scott Bauer of the Associated Press, who claimed that Walker "glosses over or just leaves out many pieces in the story." According to Bauer, the book fails to address:

  • JOBS PROMISE: "Walker promised in his 2010 election campaign that after four years with him as governor the state would add 250,000 private sector jobs. It was a lynchpin of that campaign, and Walker reiterated it during the recall two years later, even though numbers at that point showed he was on pace to only add half that many.
Walker never mentions his jobs creation promise in the book. Instead, the book focuses on how many jobs the state lost prior to his taking office and how Walker argued during the recall that monthly job-collection data being used against him was inaccurate."
  • JOHN DOE: "Six people, including three of Walker's former aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor, were convicted of criminal charges as part of a secret John Doe investigation that was ongoing during the recall.
Walker doesn't say anything about those close to him being convicted, or the fact that Walker himself was interviewed by investigators and spent $650,000 on criminal defense attorneys.
In fact, Walker's only mention of the probe comes as he criticizes his recall opponent, Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, for raising the issue during the campaign. Walker calls that move by Barrett a 'strategic error.'"
  • RECALL PETITIONS: "Forcing the 2012 recall election required collecting more than 540,000 valid petition signatures in just two months, a mammoth task never undertaken in Wisconsin history. Petition circulators not only met the mark, they turned in more than 900,000 valid signatures from all corners of the state, exceeding nearly everyone's expectations.
While Walker talks a lot about why he thinks he won the recall election, he barely mentions the massive petition drive that forced the vote. None of signature collections totals are reported. In fact, he only makes passing reference to the petition circulation process, mentioning that "unions began gathering signatures for my recall" around the time that a motorist drove by his home in Wauwatosa and made an obscene gesture."
  • DIVIDE AND CONQUER: "Walker spends a lot of time talking about why his proposal to effectively end collective bargaining rights for most public workers was the best and most responsible way to deal with a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.
What he doesn't write about is comments he made to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks in January 2011, just before he unveiled his plan. Walker told her that going after public employees' bargaining rights was the "first step" in his strategy to "divide and conquer." The comment was caught on tape by a documentary film crew and released in May 2012, just before Walker won the recall election.
Many thought the comment, because it came in reaction to a question from Hendricks about making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, meant that Walker intended to go after private unions next. Walker has denied that is his intention, but he doesn't discuss the controversy in the book."
  • PROTESTS: "Walker derides the protesters throughout his book, recounting the most salacious examples of them behaving badly, such as when one dumped a beer over the head of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. "The media like to comment on how 'peaceful' the protests were," Walker writes. "They must never have tried to get around the Capitol in a suit and tie."
But what Walker fails to report is that the protests, which grew to as large as 100,000 people and would be intense for over a month, went off without major incidents. Law enforcement officials, and Democrats, repeatedly praised those who gathered to oppose Walker's proposal for being well-behaved.
Walker also doesn't mention the original $7.5 million estimate his administration said it would cost to repair damage to the Capitol caused by the protesters. The number failed to stand up to scrutiny and Walker quickly distanced himself from it. The actual cost for Capitol cleanup referred to in the book is about $270,000."
  • LEGAL FIGHT: "Walker goes into little detail over the still ongoing legal fight against the law. He completely ignores a 2012 ruling, which still stands, striking down portions of the law as it affects local governments and school districts. Walker writes instead that the law 'still stands.'"

[298]

Disputed Accounts

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Two of Gov. Scott Walker's opponents are disputing accounts Walker gives of talks he had with them in his forthcoming book."[299]

According to Walker, Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) "said he would have persuaded his fellow Democrats not to head to Illinois to try to block Walker's labor legislation if Cullen had been at the meeting where Democrats decided to leave the state." Senator Cullen told reporters this conversation never occurred.[299]

The former head of a Milwaukee County union, Rich Abelson, also claims that Walker lied about an encounter between the two men. In Unintimidated, Walker claims he told Abelson, "he would lay off hundreds of workers if the union didn't make concessions" to which Abelson responded, 'Go ahead and do it!'" Abelson firmly denies ever having said this.[299]

"Walker Sees Divine Intervention in Key Moments of his Political Career"

Slate political reporter Dave Weigel writes that "Providence gets a starring role in Walker's memoir."[300]

Discussing the prank phone call from Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy pretending to be David Koch, Walker wrote: "Only later did I realize that God had a plan for me with that episode." Weigel recounts that after his press conference, Walker picked up his daily devotional and saw the title for Feb. 23: 'The power of humility, the burden of pride.'

"I looked up and said, 'I hear you, Lord,'" writes Walker. "God was sending me a clear message to not do things for personal glory or fame. It was a turning point that helped me in future challenges, helped me stay focused on the people I was elected to serve, and reminded me of God's abundant grace and the paramount need to stay humble."

Weigel writes: On the night of his recall victory, his wife Tonette urged him to open with a jokey reference to the pro-union protesters: "This is what democracy looks like!" Walker considered it.

"Perhaps," he writes, "after all we had been through, I could have indulged myself for one small moment. But then I remembered that devotional reading after the prank call on 'the power of humility.'"[300] The book fails to mention that Walker's lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, "used that very phrase when she took the stage at their victory party — 'Now, this is what democracy looks like,' she told the crowd."[299]

Contradictory Statements Made by Walker about Collective Bargaining

A primary theme in Walker's 2012 recall campaign was "keeping his promises."

Walker Runs For Governor 2010, Omits Plans To Eliminate Collective Bargaining

On April 28, 2009, Scott Walker announced his campaign for Governor of Wisconsin, and described his priorities in broad strokes such as "a government that puts the needs of citizens first." "I believe in a state that places the education of its children above the needs of the special interests," said Walker.[301]*

On February 23, 2010, Walker announced to the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Gubernatorial Candidate forum his promise to create 250,000 jobs and 10,000 new businesses in Wisconsin in his first term. "If you elect me as your next Governor, I'll get government out of the way and lower the tax burden so Wisconsin business owners and factories can create 250,000 jobs and 10,000 businesses in our state by 2015." [302]* He did not mention eliminating collective bargaining.

PolitiFact Wisconsin reported the fact that Walker did NOT campaign on collective bargaining changes and rated his statements on the subject "False". [303]

Oshkosh Northwestern Editorial Board Meeting, October 2010 Walker Says He Will Work with Unions

Oshkosh Northwestern Editorial Board video

On October 26, 2010, Walker tells the Oshkosh Northwestern editorial board that he will negotiate with the unions to gain savings. (Video released February 27, 2012.)

The board asks him, "How will you extract savings?"

Walker responds, "You still have to negotiate, I did that at the county as well, where I have some of my employee unions have agreed to it, others have not. What we did as a fallback, we said it applied to all of our non-representative employees, all of our non-union employees. We settled with three of our unions, we've still got a couple left .... what I did, and I did it again in this budget, was say, 'Here's what my expectation is, very realistic wage and benefit reforms.' And if we don't get it, we didn't build the budget on furloughs, but we said as a fallback for those employees who are in collective bargaining units where they do not settle for what we're asking for in the budget, and again this is just at the county level, we put as a fallback furloughs in there. The idea being that the employees who are steppin' up and helping us, both those non-union employees as well as those unions that have settled, they shouldn't be punished when they're already helping to contribute balancing the budget. We'd approach a similar strategy for the the state."

Walker Introduces Collective Bargaining Bill, Public Explanation State is "Broke"

On February 11, 2011, Walker introduced the collective bargaining bill, saying state is "broke" and we have no other choice. Critics charge that key provisions in the bill such as the ban on state collection of union dues and impossible elector hurdles for recertifying unions reveal the true union-busting nature of the bill. Unions are a key fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Walker Defends Bill in Fireside Chat As Not "A Battle With Unions"

On February 22, 2011, Walker had his first "fireside chat" with Wisconsinites, claiming his administration is not targeting unions. "You see, despite a lot of the rhetoric we've heard the past 11 days, the bill I put forward isn't aimed at state workers, and it certainly isn't a battle with unions. If it was, we would've eliminated collective bargaining entirely, or we would've gone after the private sector unions. But we did not."

Walker Tells Congress: It's Not About Defeating Obama

Scott Walker & Rep. Connolly

On April 14, 2011, Walker testified before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, asked if the collective bargaining bill is about defeating Barack Obama in 2012, Walker assures Connecticut Representative Chris Murphy, "It's not about that."

From the testimony:

Rep. Chris Murphy: "It's hard to make the argument that this debate only plays out in the context of Wisconsin's budget fight. And in fact some of the key players in this drama seem to be pretty open about how this ultimately is about trying to kill a pretty important constituency for working families...
(Murphy quotes Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Fox News:)
If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is that President Obama is going to have a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
And in a fundraising letter that [Fitzgerald] sent out, he was making the pitch that Republicans should be supported because they faced down big labor's bully tactics and the Democratic walk-out of the state Senate to break the power of unions of Wisconsin once and for all.
This sounds like a much broader political fight to defeat your opponents, to try to defeat the advocates for working families .... I'd like to know if you agree with the statements of your state Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, and how you address the concern of many of ours that the reason that you have $2.1 million being spent on your candidate for the court, the reason you have groups like the Koch brothers pouring in thousands and thousands of dollars, because this is about a much broader effort, and it seems the key players in the fight, certainly in the state legislative level, are very open about how this is a much broader assault on unions and the allies of unions."
Walker responds, "....It's not about that. It's ultimately about balancing the budget now and in the future, not just through temporary, because we've had too many people temporarily trying to push our problems off to the future. This is a long-term answer, and is about long-term reform in our government, so our schools, our local governments and our states operate better. That's what it is for me."

Walker Tells Congress: It's Not About Punishing Unions & the Democratic Donor Base

Walker was also asked by asked by Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia if he has ever had a conversation with anyone about punishing unions and the democratic donor base:

"Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their [union] donor base?" [asked Connolly]. "No," responded Walker. "Never had such a conversation?" continued Connolly. "No," said Walker.

Video from January 2011 Has Walker Talking of Plan to "Divide And Conquer" Unions

Scott Walker & Diane Hendricks

In May of 2012, a video was released of a January 18, 2011 conversation with Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks about creating a red state, wherein he states he is going to "divide and conquer" unions.

Hendricks: "Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work? What can we do to help you?" Walker: "Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. . ." Hendricks: "Which state would you mirror? Is there any state that's already . . ." Walker: "Well, (Indiana Gov.) Mitch Daniels, did - now, see the beautiful thing is, he did it in Indiana, he had it by executive order that created the unions years ago, and so when he came in about a week after he eliminated through executive order. In Wisconsin, it's by the statute. So I need lawmakers to vote on it. But the key is by tying it to the budget, there's no way to unravel that..."

Walker's Jobs Controversies

Wisconsin has Fastest-Shrinking Middle Class in the Nation

According to a recent report released by the Pew Charitable Trust, "Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000."[304] The Cap Times reports also that "many Wisconsinites are now paying a higher percentage of their income to cover housing costs. In 2000, only 24 percent of state families were spending more than the 30 percent of their income on rent or a mortgage but that has increased to 31 percent."[304]

Walker's spokeswoman Laurel Patrick responded to the report by saying that the study only covered three years under Walker's administration and that "from 2011 to 2013, Wisconsin’s median household income grew by 2.7 percent, 15th best in the nation," The Cap Times reported.[305]

Patrick's response needs clarifying according to a recent report by UW-Madison economist Laura Dresser,

"Wisconsin’s growth and prosperity are not being widely shared. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, while Wisconsinites not among the very highest earners saw little or no income growth. In 2012, Wisconsin reached a milestone, with a record share of income going to the top 1%."[306]
JOBLOSS25G-1.jpg
JOBLOSS25G-1.jpg

Walker Says Jobs Will Return After Recall

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin was the only state in the country to have statistically significant job losses in the referenced year. Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012. The majority were government jobs, but that number also included 6,100 private sector jobs, the most private sector jobs lost in any state. Scott Walker has a new theory about when the job situation will improve. He told NewsMax in an exclusive interview that job creators are waiting for him to win the recall. "I think the big thing that people are waiting for is to have the certainty of knowing that this sort of positive outlook for job creators is going to continue," Walker told NewsMax. "That's why I think that after June 5th, after these primaries are done, and when I and the lieutenant governor and these senators prevail, I think it means there will be a clear message to the job creators and the small businesses in the state that now is the time to add jobs." But economists at the Federal Reserve have a more dire view of the situation. They say, "there is little prospect that such trends will reverse. Given the contradictory policies implemented in the budget, this is no surprise."[307]

In May 2012, shortly before damaging new jobs numbers for April were released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Walker went data shopping and produced his own jobs numbers. While the official BLS numbers showed a loss of 21,400 jobs from April 2011-2012, [308] Walker's new numbers showed a job gain for the year. Politifact attempted to decipher the numbers here and rated his statements and these numbers "Mostly False".[309]

Is "Right to Work" Next on Walker's Agenda?

Governor Scott Walker has a history with this issue and with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has promoted a "model" Right to Work bill for decades. Before becoming Governor, Walker was a state legislator from 1993-2002. As a freshman legislator in 1993, Walker joined ALEC and cosponsored Right to Work legislation in Wisconsin. If passed into law, 1993's SB 459 would have applied to public sector as well as private sector workers. That bill failed to pass, but Walker kept trying, sponsoring another ALEC favorite, "Paycheck Protection" legislation (1997 AB 624), which would make it tough for unions to spend money on elections. Immediately upon being elected governor in November 2010, Walker started drafting a bill to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights, even before he was sworn in. Previously, Walker had told Congress that he decided to move on the bill only after unions attempted to rush final contracts through a lame duck session of the legislature in December 2010. [310]

Over the past 18 months, Right to Work has been actively on the radar of top legislators in both houses, discussed by Majority Leaders Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald with their caucuses. See more here.

Walkerjobgrowth.jpg

Wisconsin Falls to 44th in Private-Sector Job Growth after Walker's Policies are Implemented

Numbers released in March of 2013 show Wisconsin fell to 44th in the nation in private sector job growth from September 2011 to September 2012. Additionally, wages fell faster and harder in Wisconsin than the rest of the nation, especially in manufacturing. [311]

As the chart from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to the right shows, the decline in job growth as compared with the rest of the nation becomes significant around the time that many of Walker's policies were implemented.[312]

Click to view up-to-date jobs growth data.

Scott Walker and ALEC

From The Center For Media and Democracy's report ALEC Exposed In Wisconsin: The Hijacking Of A State:

Before Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker ran for governor, he was a state legislator from 1993-2002, and he was an active member of ALEC. "Many of us, myself included, were part of ALEC," he said in a 2002 interview. In addition to sponsoring ALEC's Truth in Sentencing Bill (1997 AB 351), Walker attempted to privatize Wisconsin's prison system (1997 AB 634, 1999 AB 176, and AB 519), and sponsored early versions of anti-union legislation including "Right to Work" legislation (1993 SB 459) and "Paycheck Protection" (1997 AB 624). All these measures reflect long-standing ALEC bills and priorities.

After entering the governor's office in 2011, Governor Walker called for the introduction of eight measures reflecting the ALEC agenda, listed as "by request of the Governor." The first bill Walker called for upon taking office was Senate Bill 1 (which became Act 2), an "omnibus" bill that draws on numerous ALEC model bills to change liability rules and make it harder for Wisconsin families to hold corporations accountable when their products injure or kill.

When asked by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel if Governor Walker relied upon ALEC legislation when putting together this "tort reform" bill, Walker's press secretary Cullen Werwie replied "absolutely not." But as the bill was pending in the legislature, ALEC sent an email to Wisconsin members stating that ALEC "supports this legislation which includes numerous provisions that reflect ALEC's civil justice reform policy and model legislation." After Act 2 became law, ALEC issued a press release commending Walker and the legislature "for their immediate attention to reforming the state's legal system." Walker promoted the bill as needed to free the private sector to create jobs. Today, Walker has the worst jobs record of any governor in the nation, with Wisconsin ranking 50 out of 50 states in job creation.

Other bills Governor Walker requested that incorporate parts of the ALEC agenda include: Act 1 (Health Savings Accounts), a tax break that shifts cost burdens to individual policy holders; Act 9 (Super Majority Act), which would allow a minority of legislators to block a majority vote to raise taxes (supported by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, a long-time ALEC member); Act 10 (the Budget Repair Bill), which stripped most public workers of their collective bargaining rights; SB 13 (the Drug Liability Act), which would bar almost all suits by Wisconsin residents if a drug or medical device kills or injures a member of their family; Act 93 (the Trespasser Responsibility Act), which limits a property owner's liability for injuries to another; Act 22 (Telecommunications Modernization Act), which deregulates the telecommunications industry; AB 14 (Interest Rate Judgment Act), which would have reduced the interest rate on court-ordered payments for Wisconsin families injured or killed by corporations; and Act 21 (Economic Impact Statement Act), which places hurdles on promulgating regulations, including regulations to ensure cleaner water and air for Wisconsin families.

Governor Walker has signed 19 ALEC-related bills and budget provisions into law. Many of these bills contain multiple provisions drawn from the ALEC playbook. In addition, Walker has received over $406,000 in recent years in campaign contributions from ALEC member corporations. Top ALEC corporate members that have contributed to Walker include: MillerCoors ($36,055), WellPoint ($34,200), Wisconsin Public Service Corp. ($28,364), Pfizer ($26,845), and AT&T ($22,875).[313]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Relationship to Koch Industries

OpenSecrets.org (the Center for Responsive Politics) reports that Koch Industries donated $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 to the Friends of Scott Walker political action committee, to help elect Scott Walker as Governor of Wisconsin. Koch Pipeline Company, L.P. operates a pipeline system that crosses Wisconsin, part of the nearly 4,000 miles of pipelines owned or operated by the company.[314] Walker has taken more than $70,000 from gas and pipeline companies, and opposed a high speed rail project that would have reduced Wisconsin's dependence on oil.[315][316][317]

David Koch also "personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in June of [2010]. This was the most he had ever personally given to that group.... The RGA in turn spent $5 million in the race, mostly on TV ads attacking Walker's political opponent, Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett. According to Open Secrets, Koch Industries was one of the top ten donors to the RGA in 2010, giving $1,050,450 to help with nationwide gubernatorial races, like Walker's."[318]

But this doesn't tell the whole story: "David Koch was the founder and chairman of a front group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, which received at least $12 million from the Koch Family Foundations and which is the predecessor of the group Americans for Prosperity."[318] Americans for Prosperity, which is also funded by the Kochs, funded pro-Walker protests in Madison during the battle over his controversial "Budget Reform Bill" after running "issue ads" in Wisconsin during the 2010 election cycle. AFP "featured him at its tea party rally in Wisconsin in September 2009, when he was running for the Republican nomination for governor.

"Americans for Prosperity also ran millions of dollars in ads on a 'spending crisis' (a crisis it did not run ads against when Republicans were spending the multi-billion dollar budget surplus into a multi-trillion dollar deficit), and it selected Wisconsin as one of the states for those ads in the months before the election. It also funded a 'spending revolt' tour in Wisconsin last fall through its state 'chapter.'....

"What is the return desired for their investment? It looks like the first dividend Walker wants to pay, through the help of the Koch-subsidized cheerleaders from Americans for Prosperity, is a death knell for unions and the rights of workers to organize."[318]

When Governor Walker testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-California), on April 14th, 2011, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) "asked Walker how much money he had received from the Koch Brothers. When Walker demurred -- 'I got contributions from 50,000 people' -- Speier asked if he returned their phone calls, too, and reminded him that Koch Industries contributed $43,000."[319]

Invited to Koch Donor Summit, 2015

The Koch donor network planned to hold its 2015 winter meeting the weekend of January 23 at a hotel in Palm Springs, California. Sources told Politico that Republican politicians including "Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin received coveted invitations to speak to the vaunted network assembled by the billionaire industrialist megadonors Charles and David Koch."[320] Walker's plans to attend were confirmed by a campaign spokesperson.[321]

David Koch Admits to Funding Walker Campaign

David Koch admitted that he is helping fund Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign in an interview with The Palm Beach Post. In the February 2012 interview Koch acknowledged that his group – Americans for Prosperity - is hard at work in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a possible recall vote.

"We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," he says. "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more," said Koch.

Funded by Koch money, Americans for Prosperity spent about $700,000 on an "It's working" television ad buy in the state that credits Walker's public pension and union overhaul with giving school districts the first surpluses they've seen in years.

"What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous…If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power," said David Koch. [322] [323]

Prank call from "David Koch"

On February 23, 2011, blogger Ian Murphy of the Buffalo Beast in Buffalo, New York phoned Walker posing as conservative billionaire businessman David Koch, one of Walker's major campaign contributors, and a major funder of the anti-union group Americans for Prosperity. In the call, Murphy posing as Koch makes derogatory statements about unions and Democrats. When the fake Koch suggested placing "troublemakers" among the crowd of protesters who have been swarming the Wisconsin state capitol for eight consecutive days protesting Walkers' anti-union "budget repair bill," (presumably to discredit them), Walker admits, "We thought about that." Walker then says he concluded that real unrest might swing public opinion against him and that it was better to let the protests play out, saying the media would eventually lose interest. Walker never said he decided not to place troublemakers because doing so was morally or ethically wrong, or illegal. Walker drew greater scrutiny and questions from public officials over these statements, and became an object or criticism for taking the call, since at the time he had refused repeated calls from Democrats trying to reach him to discuss the legislation he was proposing.[324][325][326][327]

Wisconsin Protests Daily Live Blog

Beginning on February 14, 2011 the Center for Media and Democracy reporters provided live coverage of the historic protests in Madison, Wisconsin and related legal and political battles. The coverage focuses on the corporations and spinmeisters pulling the strings. The Center for Media and Democracy ended their daily live coverage on July 13, 2011. [328]

Other Controversies

2013-2015 Biennial Budget Deficit

Walker's controversial biennial budget (2011-2013) which included deep cuts to education and other state programs left the state with a $146 million surplus.[329] With that biennial budget, he also used a previous budget deficit as an excuse for slashing collective bargaining rights for public workers which sparked the uprising and recall effort in 2011.[330]

Walker's proposed 2013-'15 budget bill is being criticized as a "u-turn" in policy which would leave the state with a potential deficit of $664 million for the following two-year budget according to the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office report.[329] This proposed budget includes substantial tax cuts and increased spending for private voucher school programs. It also returns some money to public secondary and higher education, but not nearly as much as was cut from the previous budget. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that using GAAP accounting practices, the state deficit would grow to $2.64 billion from $2.06 billion, an increase of 29 percent over two years.[331]

The Wisconsin Budget Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, published a report titled 2013-15 Budget Overview: How Wisconsin Goes From a Solid Surplus to a Sizeable Deficit in March 2013 highlighting these issues.

Allegations of Political Patronage

Even though Walker has claimed Wisconsin is broke in part because public employees are overpaid, Walker's administration gave an $81,500/year job to Brian Deschane, a man in his mid-20s, with no college degree, very little management experience, no environmental experience and two convictions for drunken driving. Deschane's father, Jerry Deschane, is Executive Vice President and a Lobbyist for the Wisconsin Builders Association (WBA), whose PAC gave Walker $29,000 during the 2010 gubernatorial election. The donation made the WBA one of the top five donor PACs to Walker's campaign. In addition, members of the Wisconsin Builders Association donated over $92,000 to Walker's campaign over the last two years, for a total of $121,652. The younger Deschane held a part-time job at the Wisconsin Builder's Association prior to being awarded his job in Walker's administration. His job is in the Wisconsin Department of Examining Boards and Regulatory Authority. A Walker cabinet member hired Brian Deschane for a state job that paid $64,728/ year. Shortly after, he was moved to a position that paid $16,500 a year more, despite having only put in a few months with the state by then.[332][333]

Broken Promise on Personal Pension Payments

Walker made a campaign promise to pay the full cost of his pension "immediately after taking office in January." An AP open records request sought to determine whether he was actually fulfilling that promise. However, records of Walker's Pension payments were redacted from the report released by the Governor's Office. Walker spokesmen Cullen Werwie later revealed that Walker did not start paying the full cost of his pension until August, meaning that he continued to not pay the full cost even while he sought increase pension payments and eliminate collective bargainging rights. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made the same promises and similarly failed to start paying the full cost until August." [334]

Wind Power

In his 2015-2017 Executive budget, Walker set aside $250,000 for Wisconsin's Public Service Commission to "to conduct a study on wind energy system-related health issues."[335] Supporters of wind power, such as Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, do not oppose such research as long as it is peer-reviewed, "The concern for us is that, if study is going to be done, it's not going to be rigorous, and there will be very little value in it,"[336] As stated in the budget, there is no guarantee that the research asked for will be peer-reviewed.[337]

On January 11, 2011, Walker proposed a "regulatory reform bill" that contained a provision seeking to quadruple the distance between wind turbines and neighboring property (to 1,800 feet). A few weeks later, a joint committee of the legislature voted to suspend Wind Siting Rules that had already been developed in an open committee before Walker's bill was proposed, on the day the new rules would have taken effect. Wind proponents say that, combined, the actions have jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state.[338]

High Speed Rail

One of Walker's first actions as governor was to reject an $810 million federal stimulus grant for a high-speed rail project from Madison to Milwaukee which he termed a "boondoggle".[339] [340] The grant would have also paid for improvements to the Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Chicago and other transportation improvements in the state. As of November 2013, the State of Wisconsin had incurred $52 million dollars in total cost for the trains- despite never having received them.[341] The rejected federal money went to other states, along with estimated several thousand jobs that would have been created in the state. The state was also required to foot the bill for the other improvements.[342]

Although the elimination of collective bargaining rights for public workers was the largest controversy of Walker's first term, Marc Eisen of the Isthmus predicts that the most devastating, long-term effect on the state will have been Walker's decision to reject the federal stimulus money and kill the high-speed rail project. [343]

Talgo Inc.'s Claim against the State of Wisconsin

On November 7, 2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the train company, Talgo Inc., filed suit with the State Claims Board against the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Talgo is seeking $65.9 million dollars from the state, specifically:

"$18.6 million in unpaid invoices and interest, $23.5 million in lost business, $10.5 million in damage caused by state officials 'continually defaming' Talgo's reputation and $9.8 million in lost maintenance work. The remainder covers an array of others costs, such as for insurance and legal work."

The essence of Talgo's claim is that, "the state failed to live up to its purchase agreement and that Walker repeatedly acted in bad faith to frustrate the deal."[344] Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)of Wisconsin told the press that the Talgo contract "included a provision voiding the deal if lawmakers didn't provide money for the trains in the state budget," and thus was rejected in good faith.[341] However, according to Talgo,"Wisconsin's purported funding shortfall was deliberately staged by Governor Walker and the DOT in an effort to evade the state's contractual commitments to Talgo."[341] Talgo also asserts that the state "invented" a contract dispute (regarding the cost of testing the trains) in order to "kill the train project."[341]

If Talgo succeeds, Wisconsin taxpayers would be responsible for the $65.9 million dollar cost. As of November 2013, Talgo has already received approximately $40 million from Wisconsin taxpayers as a result of the abandoned deal.[341]

Biography

Scott Walker is the 45th Governor of Wisconsin. He was sworn in on January 3, 2011 after defeating his Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a close race - 52 percent to 47 percent.[345]

Soon after being elected, Walker created a political firestorm when he introduced a biennial budget that greatly defunds state programs that aid low-income families, the elderly and children. Mass protests started in February in the state's capital, Madison, when it was discovered that the budget also sought to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for public employees and enforce sweeping reforms to public workers' pensions and benefits.[346]

It was also discovered that many of Walker's campaign contributors were big corporations that benefit from changes made in his budget. Boycotts were started against companies like M&I Bank and Kwik Trip in protest. Koch Industries was Walker's biggest contributor.

The son of a preacher, Walker grew up in the small town of Delavan, Wisconsin.[347] He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI for four years but did not graduate. Before Walker was elected Wisconsin governor, he was the County Executive of Milwaukee County from 2002 to 2010 and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1993 to 2002.

Walker's Milwaukee County Executive Days

Walker was elected to Milwaukee County Executive in 2002 in a special election and served in that position until his gubernatorial election in 2010. As County Executive, Walker "enacted emergency budget powers" [348] by laying off 76 employees in an attempt to fix a budget deficit. Walker also started trying to restrict union bargaining rights before his Governor days.[349] "Walker believes that if the unionized employees take the wage and benefit reform, the budget gap would be closed. 'We're optimistic that if they came forward and accepted those changes that all the other employees have, we wouldn't have a gap.'"[348]

A court ruling in January 2011 reversed the outsourcing of the county's security guards citing an overreach of authority by Walker. The move ended up costing the county money instead of saving money as originally planned as the county was ordered to pay back pay for the county guards, minus any unemployment or retirement benefits or earnings from another job. The county essentially ended up paying double for the same service.[350]

He also implemented a 35 hour workweek for county employees, "which was recently declared an overstep of his authority by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, have actually cost the county and state money in legal fees and corrective actions."[351]

Walker was also courted by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded tea party organization, during his time as County Executive. Walker was asked to "emcee" their annual Defending the American Dream Summit. He also spoke at a 2009 AFP rally in Milwaukee that attracted thousands.[352]

In 2009, the state striped Milwaukee County of its role in administering food aid, child care and medical assistance programs that state Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said "was prompted by years of county mismanagement."[353] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said that state managers were installed to fix the following problems: ]

  • The county's poor performance in the programs includes answering only 5 percent of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month.
  • The county fails to process 30 percent of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care.
  • In 2007, 60 percent of county decisions to deny food or health care benefits were overturned within two months. That resulted in benefit delays and forced families to go through time-consuming appeals or a second round of applications.
  • The county's high food assistance error rate means nearly one in five deserving applicants were cut off from the program in fiscal 2008.[353]

The The Economic and Community Development Division was also eliminated under Walker.[354] The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also reported that more than 30,000 jobs were lost in 2009 under Walker's watch in Milwaukee County according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[351]

The WI Democratic Party released a statement stating: "After eight years of Walker's reckless money mismanagement, Milwaukee County is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a report by the Greater Milwaukee Committee with the structural deficit expected to climb to nearly $100 million by 2014.[351]

Contact

Office of Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
Phone:(608) 266-1212
Email: govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

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External Resources

References

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