Thursday, July 23, 2009

Money For Nothing, Consultants and Plane Rides For Free

Scott Walker, like every other politician, was required to file a campaign financial report earlier this week. Much like his budgets and his policies, this campaign financial report seemed to be more than a bit off in some regards.

Cory Liebmann beat me to the punch on one of the oddities, namely that RJ Johnson, the big time consultant to Walker's campaign, doesn't appear to be getting paid, nor is their an in kind contribution listed for him.

Along the same line as the Johnson missing entries are the entries for Keith Gilkes, who is listed as the Champion Group, LLC, but is really Walker's campaign manager. According to Walker's report, Gilkes only was paid $11,000 for his work. I find it hard to believe that Walker would get someone with that much experience to work that cheaply.

Another big thing is an entry dated June 27, 2009, for a payment of $3,841.49 to Terry Kohler for "Candidate Expenses - Travel." My first thought was that it may have been for the day that he made his multiple stop trip around the state making his official kick-off to his campaign. But that didn't make much sense. First of all, Walker's official kick-off was a couple of months earlier. On top of that, a charter jet, at the very least, still costs over $1,000 per hour. Since Walker was on the go for at least 10 or 12 hours, the cost should have been at least three times what the payment was for.

The other idea that occurred to me was the timing of the payment. June 27th was just two days before Newt Gingrich's appearance at a Walker fund raiser in Milwaukee. Could the payment be for flying Gingrich into town? But if that was they case, why was the payment made out to Kohler?

A quick Google search led me to an article from 1995, which starts out with this:

Just before Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House, he made a pilgrimage to Sheboygan, Wis. Why? Because Terry Kohler asked him.

"Terry and Mary Kohler are such old friends and have been so vital to what we've been doing that when they called, I couldn't turn them down," Gingrich remarked after delivering a December dinner speech to the Sheboygan Economic Club. "They've done so much over the years to make it possible for us to win this majority."

If Gingrich is fighting a Republican revolution, Terry Kohler -- son and grandson of Wisconsin governors and heir to one of the state's biggest financial empires -- is supplying the ammunition. A former Air Force pilot who now flies his own planes, a former politician who now finances others, the 60-year-old Kohler is the biggest individual contributor to Gingrich and his conservative causes.

Well, well. Kohler and Gingrich are old time buddies, and Kohler definitely holds some sway with Gingrich. (Money always seems to have that affect on Republicans.) It seems to me that it would be a rational guess that Kohler asked Gingrich to come up here to help Walker raise some cash, and that Walker's campaign reimbursed Kohler for the cost of flying Gingrich here and back to wherever he came from.

But then that leaves a couple, three unanswered question. Who paid for Walker's jetting around the state in a day on the day Walker officially launched his campaign? And why isn't it listed on his campaign's financial report?

And if the $3,800 was for the campaign kick-off trip around the state, why was it so cheap, and why isn't there an in kind contribution listed?

OK, one other question: When will the local daily paper and radio station pick up on any of this? (That answer will come later.)


  1. Capper,
    Does a campaign have to list an expenditure if they haven't yet received an invoice? Is it possible that those individuals / companies have not yet sent out invoices?

  2. Campaigns have to list incurred obligations. Seems unlikely that RJ hasn't billed for more than six months, or that a fly around in April hasn't produced a bill a few months later.

  3. In looking at the Walker report online, it would appear that a lot of expenses were held back before the filing. This is done to inflate fundraising results and make the candidate look better. So, Walker's $1.1 million number is probably more like $700-800k. Really, not all that impressive.