Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Walkergate: One For The Ages

Before we get into this post, I must warn the gentle reader to prepare to have their mind boggled, their flabber gasted and the gob smackered.  It really is that breathtaking.

In a article on JSOnline, Dan Bice reports on Scott Walker, who was in Milwaukee for a "Job Creation Forum" (read campaign donation event).  Bice got to ask Walker some questions about Walkergate.

Walker again denied knowing one single thing about the John Doe investigation besides what he's read in the paper.  Yeah, sure.  And the fact that he retained former US Attorney Steve Biskupic and paid a cool $60,000 to his favorite law firm was just pure coincidence. You can never be too careful I guess.

But Walker also gave Bice the most jaw-dropping and absolutely incredulous quote (emphasis mine):
Gov. Scott Walker says he isn't worried about a John Doe investigation of his current and former aides.

That's because, Walker said, he is a man of integrity.

"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents," said Walker, whose father was a Baptist minister. "Certainly, they got me to the rank of Eagle Scout, and I continue to have that kind of integrity."
Walker also referred to his "high ethical standard."

Holy chutzpah, Batman!

Bice doesn't indicate either way, but it is believed that Walker said that with a straight face.  But that statement sure does bring back a certain memory.

I think it would be a very fine idea indeed if we were to take a look at Walker's integrity and high ethical standard.

We all already know about the current growing scandal which I introduced with the primer "An Introduction to Walkergate."  And even though I wrote that primer less than two weeks ago, it already is becoming obsolete.  As Bice points out in his article:
The investigation initially had focused on campaign activity by Walker's former county workers. But several sources said last week that prosecutors continue to look at new angles.

"Every time there's a new witness, this thing sprouts a new branch and heads in a completely new direction," said one person familiar with the investigation.
But what about before Walkergate started to break out?

Going back in time, our first stop is a scant six months ago, when Scott Walker tried to withhold emails he was bragging about. He ended up releasing said emails only after getting sued to do so. By the way, that little stunt cost tax payers $7,000.

And just the month before this, there was another moment that will go down in history when Walker had his conversation with "David Koch."  It will be hard for someone to come up with a more damning example of Walker's true ethical nature in that story alone.

Going back before that is Walker and his infamous motorcycle tour around the state. Walker did this stunt every year, claiming he was promoting tourism to Milwaukee County. But his avarice for the governor's seat and his own arrogance did him in this past year by making it painfully obvious that he was only doing it to promote his gubernatorial campaign.

Of course, he was campaigning every year he did this, but as his supporters would point out, did so with the blessing of the Milwaukee County Ethics Board. What they won't tell you is that he fired the head of the Ethics Board for questioning his ethics and appointed a young man promoted by a supportive law firm. With a panel of his own people, all of whom were quite aware of what happens to those that don't toe the line, is it any wonder that they rubber stamped his using tax dollars for this thinly-veiled campaign stunt? It also acts as a precursor to the unconscionable power grab he's doing now.

Another issue that Walker has chronic issues with is campaign finance reporting.  It seemed that during the gubernatorial race, he simply could not file a campaign finance report that wasn't in violation of the law.  But then again, that was nothing new, since he had the same problems in his first attempt at being governor as well.  The problems ranged from not having full disclosure on his campaign donors to apparently getting free consultations and jet plane rides.

There is also the question of Walker using tax dollars to promote the Koch sponsored Tea Party at the lake front.

In 2005, Walker was also the recipient of the second highest fine ever levied against a campaign in state history. He earned that privilege by bombarding people with those annoying robocalls, but failing to include the fact that he was paying for them.

When Walker was whisked into the Milwaukee County executive's chair in 2002, he did so on the wave of hatred due to the pension scandal created by his predecessor, Tom Ament.  One of his promises that he made was to have all of his staff sign waivers forgoing the pension enhancements that Ament had created.

In 2004, when Walker ran for his first re-election against challenger David Riemer, the issue of those waivers came up during the campaign.  Walker said that he had all those promised waiver signed, but refused to produce them.  So push came to shove and Riemer's strategist, Bill Christofferson, filed a formal request for the waivers.

The thing is, Walker didn't have them.  He never followed through with his promise.  When Christofferson filed the request, he and his top people spent the next ten days rushing around coercing people to sign the waivers.  Then at the end of the ten day, Walker supplied a list of people who signed, but did not include the dates they signed, much less the requested waivers themselves.

This fraudulent behavior was brought before the state's Department of Justice.  While they did not rule whether Walker's behavior was criminal, they did have this to say:
"In sum, this episode evinces a case of how government officials ought not to do business...

"Whether they violated the public records law is a question largely mooted by the later production of the waivers and the nearly inconceivable notion that a repeat of this inglorious set of circumstances might be forestalled by a judicial pronouncement on the matter.

"Nobody honored to serve in public office ought to manipulate public records in this fashion -- that is the opinion of this office."
And this wasn't even the earliest sign of the kind of person Walker is or the kind of campaigns he ran.

There is the famed and often discussed Marquette University incident. Walker was running for student president in his sophomore year. To say that he had some issues then would be an understatement. What happened then seems to be eerily prophetic:
Walker attended Marquette from 1986 t0 1990, but never attained a degree (see page 5). His sophomore year, Walker ran for president of the Associated Students of Marquette University (ASMU, the former title for Marquette Student Government). He was accused of violating campaign guidelines on multiple occasions.

The Tribune reported then that he was found guilty of illegal campaigning two weeks before his candidacy became official. Later, a Walker campaign worker was seen placing brochures under doors at the YMCA. Door-to-door campaigning was strictly prohibited.

Walker initially denied this but later admitted to the violation, which resulted in lost campaign privileges at the YMCA.
In the run-up to election day, the Tribune’s editorial board endorsed Walker’s opponent John Quigley, but said either candidate had the potential to serve effectively.

However, the Tribune revised its editorial the following day, calling Walker “unfit for presidency.” The column cited Walker’s distribution of a mudslinging brochure about Quigley that featured statements such as “constantly shouting about fighting the administration” and “trying to lead several ineffective protests of his own.”
And if you thought, like I did, that was prophetic, compare this next segment to the investigation Walker is currently undergoing and what he had to say at the top of this very long post (emphasis mine):
The revision also expressed disappointment in Walker’s campaign workers reportedly throwing away issues of the Tribune after the endorsement was initially made.

Walker dismissed this, saying he had no knowledge of what his supporters did, according to a Tribune article from February 25, 1988.
Does anyone else have goosebumps?

Cory Liebmann also does a thorough examination of Walker's "High Ethical Standards" at his blog "Eye on Wisconsin."

I would advise the gentle reader to mark this occasion.

I adopted the word Walkergate because it sounded so natural and stirred up memories of its homophone, the infamous Watergate.  But as time goes on and more of this story is exposed, I truly can't help but believe that Walker's statements are going to end up echoing throughout history as much as the famous five words by Richard Nixon: "I am not a crook."

It will be interesting to see if they meet similar fates to their political careers or if we will need to recall Walker anyway.

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