Monday, September 26, 2011

Walkergate: Only Cronies Need Apply

The news for the past couple of months have been filled with a mind-boggling amount of stories regarding Scott Walker appointing cronies to high paying state positions.  Many of these appointees were not even qualified and were appointed by Walker over people who were much more qualified.

Here's a list of a few of them just off the top of my head:
  • There was Brian Deschane, the son of a wealthy lobbyist, who had no college degree, no experience but did have two drunk driving arrests.  That earned him an $81,500 job, with a 26% raise, from the Walker administration.  Walker passed over two or three more qualified applicants to reward this fortunate son.
  • There was Stephen Fitzgerald, the father of the Twins of Tantrums, Scott and Jeff, who was appointed at the state's top trooper for a cool $105,700 a year.  At least the senior Fitzgerald was a police officer, but was coming off a stinging 2-1 loss for Dodge County Sheriff.  Fitzgerald's biggest qualification was probably his willingness to use his troops to go after Walker's political opponents, even the pregnant women.
  • And who could forget Valerie Cass? She was the lobbyist who won her position by winning over the heart and marriage of Randy Randy "Bed" Hopper. I don't think we need to go into her qualifications.
  • Included in this list is Jeff "Judas" Plale who earned his thirty pieces of silver by selling his vote to Walker and shooting down the union contracts at the end of 2010.  Since this payback appointment, Walker has moved Plale up to an even higher paying  with less responsibility job. Who wouldn't want to get paid $90,000 a year for sitting in an office going "choo-choo?"
  • Don't forget Tom Nardelli.  Nardelli was an opponent of Walker's when the Milwaukee County Executive's seat was open in the recall election of 2002.  There was rumor going around that Nardelli backed out of the race on the promise of a position in Walker's administration.  Nardelli ended up being Walker's Chief of Staff and enforcer.  Nardelli, like Plale, was given a job in the Walker administration, only to be jumped up again later.  Nardelli was on his way to his fourth pension when he abruptly left his job, only days into his most recent promotion.  Nardelli claims it had nothing to do with Walkergate.  But so far, only Nardelli has expressed confidence in this reason.
  • Following the same pattern, Cindy Archer was Walker's Director of Administration at Milwaukee County and held a similar job at the state.  Like Nardelli, Archer abruptly left her job, but had hinted at coming back to the state.  Unlike Nardelli, Archer already had a new job at the state before she left the new one.  Her appointment, which came directly from Walker's office, overrode the job interview of another applicant.  This poor woman ended up interviewing for a job that Walker already had given to one of his cronies.I would be remiss if I failed to also mention that Walker gave Archer $40,000 more than the person who had it previously.
  • There is also John Scocos, who Walker reappointed to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Scocos is apparently so incompetent and corrupt that two ranking member of the Board of Veteran Affairs has resigned directly due to his appointment.  It was pointed out to me just tonight that Scocos got the appointment over two other qualified applicants who were never even interviewed for the job.
It would be naive to think that there weren't more examples of this sort of Cronyfest.  After all, Walker did get 37 positions switched from civil service jobs to political appointee positions, almost always with a higher salary than when they were civil service and you had to be qualified for the job.

Now, given Walker's propensity for dishing out state jobs to his cronies, his supporters and his campaign workers like it was candy at a parade, the gentle reader might wonder if he has a history of doing this.  The gentle reader would be exactly on target.

Three years ago, when I was still a novice blogger with privileges at folkbum's rambles and rants, I wrote about the very same thing, that being Walker's appointing unqualified campaign workers to high level positions.  The key snippet which I cited then still tells the story (emphasis mine):
Walker’s last two choices to lead the county economic development office, Bob Dennik and Tim Russell, came from his campaign and lacked depth in the development business, Clark said. Dennik left the post this week to become an executive with a Pewaukee construction company. Russell is now Walker’s community relations director.

Walker chooses folks who don’t have (the necessary) experience,” she said. Dennik came under repeated fire from the board the last two years over disappointing land sales results that put the county budget in a jam. He didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment.

Only about $226,000 of the $7.2 million in budgeted land sales revenue for this year has materialized, contributing to a projected multimillion-dollar, year-end deficit. The land-sales budgets have been off $1 million or more in four of the last seven years, county figures show.
Yes, that is the same Tim Russell who is one of the key subjects of interest in Walkergate.

Even to this day, there are still some of Walker's cronies safely ensconced in county positions, some of them who have worked with him for the length of Walker's entire political career, which is most of his adult life.

When Walker was campaigning for thegovernor's seat, he promised to create 250,000 jobs. He appears to be bound and determined to do it too, one crony at a time.


  1. Great post.

    This isn't about getting the best people into public service, to come up with solutions that benefit the bottom 99% of Wisconsin citizens.

  2. This is interesting!

    Now, the next most interesting thing I want to know about is "persuasion partners," and other private companies that are dedicated to turning blue states red.

    Surely, the market for public servants can't be THAT profitable?

  3. Any idea how this compares to other administrations, Republican or Democrat? Some of these characters,like Plale and Fitzgerald, Hopper's girlfriend, seem like obvious cases, but, isn't it somewhat normal for politicians to get their "friends" jobs?

  4. Both parties do it to some degree. I know Doyle did. But none so blatantly or egregiously. This really crossed the line.