Scott Walker

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Scott Walker is the Republican Governor of Wisconsin who, in 2011, proposed sharply curtailing the bargaining rights of public employee unions as a way to achieve budget savings. His proposal gave rise to unprecedented state-wide protests in Wisconsin.[1] Walker's reforms triggered a recall election, which Walker won on June 5, 2012.[2]

Contents

John Doe I Document Dump February 19, 2014

Second John Doe Investigation, February 2012-Present

On October 21, 2013, Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported another John Doe is 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.[3]

On February 4, 2014, Bice reported for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 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."[4] A source in Bice's article confirmed that it is Friends of Scott Walker under investigation, saying, "Good guess…That's it." [4]

In an affadavit accompanying a document release in August 2014, Milwaukee County investigator Robert 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.[5] 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."[5]

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.[4] 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.[6]

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. [7]

The Wisconsin State Journal reported 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.'” [8]

The Daily Beast writes: "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." [9]

The investigation is 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.[10]

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.

Wall Street Journal: Walker campaign, dozens of Republican-aligned groups served with subpoenas

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 15 that the secret "John Doe" investigation has 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.” [11]

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. [11]

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

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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, 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. [12][13]

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. [12]

Subpoenas Quashed, Could Have Broader Impact on Campaign Finance Law

On January 10, 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. [14]

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." [15]

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. [16]

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.[17] [18]

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."[17]

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.[19]

Wisconsin Club for Growth Sues in Federal Court

On February 10, Wisconsin Club for Growth sued prosecutors and the John Doe judge in federal court in an attempt to shut down the John Doe probe. [20]

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. [21]

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 has been 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.[22]

August 2014 John Doe Documents Undermine Walker Statements

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.[5] The documents suggest Walker personally solicited funds for WCFG.[23] In an April 2011 email to R. J. Johnson, Walker campaign consultant Kim Doner wrote, "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."[24]

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."[5]

In her April 2011 email, Doner also wrote "As the Governor discussed ... he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging." 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.[5]

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."[25] Walker has denied that he had a role in soliciting the donation.[26] 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.[23]

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

Starting in September of 2010 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel[27] 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.[28]

"John Doe" 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."[29]

Final Legal Tab Totals $650k

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. [30] The rule allowed him to transfer funds from his campaign to the defense fund with the consent of the contributors.[31] 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.[32]

Secret Email System

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.[33] 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.[34]

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. [35]

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."

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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." [35]

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.[36] 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.[28]

6 People Indicted, 15 Felony Indictments, 6 Sentenced

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  • 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."[37]
  • 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.[38]
  • 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.[39][40]
  • 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.[41] 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.[41] 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.[42][43]
  • 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. [44] In January 2013 Wink was sentenced to a year's probation, 50 hours of community service and $1,000 in fines.[45]
  • 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.[46] Gardner was sentenced to 2 years probation and 50 hours of community service. [47]

Scott Walker’s Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Campaign finance reports released in May 2012 disclose that Walker transferred $100,000 into his criminal defense fund, "Scott Walker Trust" [48], in addition to the $60,000 in his last report. Add this to the $160,000 that has already been paid to campaign attorneys [48] 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.[49] 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."[50]

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. [51] 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. [52] . 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. [53], a road-rage killer [54] and most recently, a teenager accused of murdering his grandfather with an ax.[55]

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. [56] He also defended Milwaukee Alderperson, Rosa Cameron, on federal charges of fraud for illegally using federal grant money for her election campaign [57] and Ex-Elkhorn Mayor, Paul D. Ormson, on federal charges of campaign finance fraud [58]

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.[59] 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. [60]

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. [61] 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."[28] The 13th person to be granted immunity, Fran McLaughlin, was announced May 31, 2012.[62] 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[63]

  • 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.[64]

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[65]

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."[65]

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."[66]

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."[67]. 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..."[68]

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.[69] As she appeals her conviction, Ms. Rindfleisch has requested that her emails and other records continue to be sealed. [69]

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)[70], 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 2012 Wisconsin ranked 42nd in the nation in terms of jobs creation. (FN) 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. [70] [71]

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.[72]

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.[73] 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.[74] This new term combines "expected" jobs and "retained" jobs. It allows WEDC to avoid reporting "actual" jobs.[72]

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."[72]

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.)[72]

At the end of 2013, WEDC told the Legislature and the public it had "impacted" 37,313 jobs.[75] 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.[72]

To create those jobs over a two-year period, some $203 million in taxpayer money was spent in grants, loans and bonding authority.[72]

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.)[72]

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: [76]

  • 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.[77] 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.[78]

$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. [79] [80] 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. [81]

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. [82] [83] [84]

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. [85] [86] [87]

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.[88] 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. [89]

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. [90][91]

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.[92] 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. [93]

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.

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.[94] 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."[95]

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."[96]

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."[97]

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."[98]

"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.[99]

"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. [100]

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. [101]

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." [102]

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.[103]

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"[103]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. [103] 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.[103]

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. [104]

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. [101]

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."

[105] 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. [106]

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.[105]

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."[107]

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."[108]

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.[109]

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.[109]

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.[109]

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% of the vote, Barrett received 46% of the vote.[2]

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% of the vote. He was trailed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk at 34%, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout at 4%, and Secretary of State Doug Lafollette at 3%. 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% 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.[110]

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.[111]

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.[112]

For a period of time, he was allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money, and he did, many in $250,000 contributions. 74% of Walker's individual contributions are from out of state.[112]

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.[113]

  • 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. [114]
  • 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. [115]
  • 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. [116]
  • 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. [117]

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).[119]

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. [120] Both groups are anticipated to spend much more.[110]

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% of the vote compared to Barrett's 47% of the vote. [121] 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. [122]

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.[123]*

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.” [124]* 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". [125]

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

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."[126]

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, [127] 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".[128]

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. [129]

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. [130]

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.[131]

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).[132]

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.[133] 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.[134][135][136]

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."[137]

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."[137] 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."[137]

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."[138]

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. [139] [140]

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.[141][142][143][144]

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. [145]

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.[146] 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.[147]

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.[146] 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% over two years.[148]

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.[149][150]

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." [151]

Wind power

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.[152]

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".[153] [154] 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.[155] 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.[156]

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. [157]

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."[158] 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.[155] 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."[155] Talgo also asserts that the state "invented" a contract dispute (regarding the cost of testing the trains) in order to "kill the train project."[155]

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.[155]

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.[159]

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.[1]

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.[160] 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" [161] 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.[162] "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.'"[161]

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.[163]

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."[164]

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.[165]

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."[166] 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% of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month.
  • The county fails to process 30% of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care.
  • In 2007, 60% 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.[166]

The The Economic and Community Development Division was also eliminated under Walker.[167] 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.[164]

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.[164]

2016 Presidential Race

Buzz within political circles point to Walker as one of the leading choices for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, especially after his powerful speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2013. [168] Additionally, Walker has become increasingly open with the press about entertaining the idea of a presidential run. In an interview with Politico during the 2013 CPAC in March, he alluded to possible 2016 presidential aspirations;[169] however, this is a change from what he told the Associated Press just a few months earlier that he was not focusing on a 2016 presidential run. [170]

Book Project with Former George W. Bush Speechwriter

“Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.” is the title of the book Walker is working on with former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen. It is scheduled for release November 19, 2013. [171]

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."[172]

Book "Leaves Out Many Pieces in the Story"

The book has already been 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.'"

[173]

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."[174]

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.[174]

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.[174]

"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." [175]

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.’”[175] 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."[174]

Contact

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

Articles and Resources

Sourcewatch resources

External resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wisconsin Protests: Tens Of Thousands Turn Out In Madison Against Anti-Union Proposal, The Huffington Post, February 18, 2011 (Updated May 25, 2011).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Monica Davey and Jeff Zeleny, Walker Survives Wisconsin Recall Vote New York Times, June 5, 2012.
  3. Daniel Bice, Secret probe spreads to five Wisconsin counties, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 21, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Daniel Bice, Unsealed John Doe filings reveal roots of recall probe, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Brendan Fischer, "New Docs Undermine Walker Statements on Criminal Probe," Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch, September 1, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2014.
  6. Patrick Marley, "Walker spent $320,000 from campaign on Doe defense attorneys," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 21, 2014. Accessed July 22, 2014.
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  8. Dee Hall and Mary Spicuzza, Governor, Senate leader mum on latest criminal probe, Wisconsin State Journal, October 23, 2013.
  9. Ben Jacobs, Scott Walker Investigated in Secret Wisconsin Probe, The Daily Beast, Oct. 23, 2013.
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  13. Lisa Kaiser, Exclusive: Koch Brothers’ Dark Money Flowed into Wisconsin Recall Fight, Shepherd Express, Nov. 13, 2013.
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  16. Brendan Fischer, Secret Court Ruling Could Undermine Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law, PRwatch.org, Jan 28, 2014
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  18. Daniel Bice, Unsealed John Doe filings reveal roots of recall probe, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Feb 3, 2014.
  19. Daniel Bice, Rindfleisch, O'Keefe identified as subjects in John Doe probe, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Feb. 10, 2014
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  21. Press release, Wisconsin Club for Growth Makes False Claims to Federal Court, PRwatch.org, Feb 11, 2014.
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  25. Patrick Marley, Daniel Bice and Lee Bergquist, "Walker wanted funds funneled to Wisconsin Club for Growth," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, August 22, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2014.
  26. Lee Bergquist, "Mining company, allies spent freely to get bill approved," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]], September 1, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2014.
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  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Mary Bottari, Is Scott Walker John Doe?, PRWatch, September 21, 2011.
  29. Meher Ahmad, Walker Walks Away from "John Doe" Investigation, Pushes Budget Deal Only ALEC Could Love, PRWatch, March 4, 2013.
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  33. Daniel Bice and Dave Umhoefer, Two ex-Walker aides charged with illegal campaigning, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 26, 2012.
  34. Daniel Bice, Walker staffer quits after admitting she posted Web comments while at work, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2010.
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  37. Steve Schultze, Ex-Walker aide Timothy Russell sentenced to 2 years in prison for veterans theft, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 22, 2013.
  38. Associated Press, UPDATE: Pierick Gets Community Service at Sentencing, NBC15, February 14, 2013.
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  40. Steve Schultze, Ex-Walker appointee charged in John Doe sentenced to prison, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2012.
  41. 41.0 41.1 Mary Bottari, Walkergate Trials Heating Up, Plea Deal Has State Buzzing, PRWatch, October 10, 2012.
  42. Steve Schultze Former Walker aide Rindfleisch enters guilty plea to misconduct, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 11, 2012.
  43. Steve Schultze and Daniel Bice, Campaign, county work intertwined under Walker, prosecutor says, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 19, 2012.
  44. Myra Sanchick, Sentencing delayed for former Walker aid Darlene Wink, Fox 6 News Milwaukee, July 17, 2012.
  45. Steve Schultze, Ex-aide apologizes to governor during sentencing for county crimes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 10, 2013.
  46. Daniel Bice and Patrick Marley, Railroad CEO charged with campaign law violations, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 11, 2011.
  47. Don Behm, Rail executive gets probation in campaign finance case, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 7, 2011.
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