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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Republican fans may see GOP presidential candidate and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as a crowd-pleasing, union-busting leader. And while he’s certainly popular with a certain segment of Wisconsinites (namely, those in affluent suburbs of Milwaukee), he’s demonstrably less admired by many of his constituents. According to an April poll by Marquette University Law School, 53 percent of registered Wisconsin voters believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, and only 41 percent approve of the governor’s performance. Many of his policies, from cutting aid to schools (including the University of Wisconsin system) to his controversial decision to make the state less hospitable to unions, are deeply unpopular.

Yet despite all the highly visible damage he’s done to the Badger State, he’s got still more skeletons in his closet. And we’re not even talking about his ridiculous devotion to Ronald Reagan.

1. He’s currently the subject of the equivalent of a grand jury probe for conduct during his 2012 recall election.

Called a “John Doe investigation” in Wisconsin, it’s actually the second investigation of this type into potential wrongdoing by Walker and his affiliates. They first looked into whether his staff did campaign work when they weren’t supposed to — like devoting hours to posting pro-Walker comments on news sites while on the county payroll. That probe led to the conviction of six staffers.

The current investigation, which has been going on since 2012, is to determine whether Walker’s anti-recall campaign unlawfully conspired with outside groups. To wit: whether campaign funds were funneled illegally “to a network of 12 supposedly independent conservative groups” while Walker’s campaign actually “directed their spending to fight the recall,” as Andy Kroll at Mother Jones put it.

2. His career in political shenanigans started early. 

In his sophomore year at Marquette University, Walker ran for student government president in a contentious election that reached epic proportions, culminating in a scandal with his team being accused of stealing the campus newspaper,The Marquette Tribune, from racks in highly trafficked school buildings after the paper endorsed his rival, John Quigley.

Taking offense the following day, the Tribune  wrote another editorial decrying Walker’s tactics. Despite endorsing Quigley, the student paper had previously also given support to Walker — but after the scandal, it quickly rescinded that support.

Walker lost the election big: 1,245 to 927. He stayed out of campus politics from then on, even though there has been no proof that he was part of the scheme to steal the newspapers.

3. It’s not the fact that he didn’t graduate from college that’s an issue. It’s the fact that he left under murky circumstances — and lied.

In speeches, Walker likes to claim that he’s just one semester short of graduation, and dropped out to take a full-time position at a local Red Cross chapter. He always planned to return to school, he says, but “family obligations” got in the way.

In reality, according to Marquette records unearthed in an investigation by PolitiFact, he was 34 credits short of the minimum needed to graduate with a single major. But he told his college’s 1990 yearbook that he had a triple major instead — political science, philosophy, and economics — which would have necessitated a heavier course load and far greater time commitment to school.

As for those “family obligations”? He dropped out in February 1990 — but didn’t get married until three years later. And his son wasn’t born until 1994.

4. Surrounded by yes men, he can’t tell the real from the fake.

The billionaire Koch brothers have been Scott Walker supporters for years, donating big sums to his campaigns. They’ve all but announced that they’ll back him in 2016. But in 2011, inspired by a Huffington Post article describing how difficult it was to get Walker on the telephone, blogger Ian Murphy decided to test this out — by pretending to be David Koch himself. When the governor rushed to pick up the call, Murphy turned on his tape recorder.

Having used YouTube videos to tweak his speech, Murphy then spent 20 minutes chatting on the phone with Walker, focusing on the governor’s plans to deal with people protesting his decision to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers. Opponents picked out Walker’s most damning statement: that he considered planting provocateurs among the protesters to make them appear violent. His explanation for rejecting the idea? “My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all these problems,” said Walker to “Koch.”

5. He’s chummy with right-wing radio.

As detailed in a series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last year, the city of Milwaukee is dramatically divided from its surrounding counties on nearly every demographic and political measure. Walker’s standing in suburban counties of metropolitan Milwaukee is at astronomical levels — 91 percent approval rating among Republicans, according to a Marquette University poll — while Milwaukee County itself is solidly blue and anti-Walker.

Starting as a state assemblyman in the 1990s, Walker frequently guested on Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling’s respective shows on radio station WISN. So close did he become with Belling that Walker had his own emergency access line to the studio, off limits to station employees, according to the New Republic.

Why does this matter? These two hosts’ influence cannot be overstated. In Milwaukee the game is not about changing voters’ minds, it’s about increasing turnout — because the suburbs are filled with Republican whites and the city has the Democrats.

In fact, Walker’s vote totals aligned closely with the listening range of the stations, according to Sykes.

6. He wants to destroy unions.

Walker became a GOP golden boy during his first month in office when he decided to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers, along with requiring additional contributions to their benefits and reducing their overall take-home pay. Although initially targeting government employees like police officers and teachers, he has expanded his anti-union crusade by signing “right to work” legislation, which bans unions from requiring employees to pay dues. All this he did under the pretense of balancing the budget.

Walker’s policies have damaged the prospects for Wisconsin workers. Unionized workers set the pay scale for many kinds of jobs, of course, which affects compensation for non-unionized workers as well. And unions also set health and safety standards, offer training, and certify workers.  According to the New York Times, which compared the salaries of ironworkers in Wisconsin to Texas and Iowa, which have had right-to-work laws since 1947, the Wisconsin ironworkers get paid twice as much as those in the other two states.

Walker’s critics say that when union membership is high, union wages become the standard and lift the pay of non-union workers, whereas the opposite is true of places that have right-to-work in place. And further research suggests that workers in right-to-work states are killed more often on the job than those in other states.

Although Walker credits his collective bargaining law for a decrease in the state’s unemployment, it’s actually driving people out of the state altogether. And instead of fixing budget shortfalls, it has actually increased them: In 2013, Wisconsin boasted a budget surplus; this year, after giving $2 billion in tax cuts to the rich, Walker had to defer $100 million in debt payments to balance the 2015 budget (a gimmick that will only end up costing the state millions more in later years).  But as a cosmetic measure, the debt deferment made him look better when he signed the budget — just before announcing his entry into the Republican presidential race.

Image: Scott Walker has been under investigation twice for suspected shady campaign activity. DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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  • Independent1

    My sense is that the best way to show just how big a failure Scott Walker is, is to compare his first term governing results against that of Mark Dayton, the billionaire governor of Wisconsin’s next door neighbor Minnessota.

    What’s kind of interesting, is that they both took over their very similar states in 2011, but Dayton started out being saddled with 6 Billion in debt, and Mark is clearly not the extrovert type of Walker. In fact, Mark was voted by Time as one of America’s worst Senators back in the early 2000s during his first sorta failed term as a senator. And like Walker, Mark started out being saddled by a legislature ruled by the opposite party – at least for Mark’s 1st 2 years.

    What’s transpired between the states since 2011 couldn’t be more different. Where Walker’s Wisconsin is now rated 44th out 50 in the nation in jobs creation, Walker’s is ranked in the top 10%. Despite the fact that unlike Walker, Mark Dayton raised taxes on the rich, and did a lot of classic liberal things that Republicans were sure would destroy the Minnesota economy – when today Minnesota is actually ranked has having the best overall economy in the nation, with the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the nation of 3.6%.. And is ranked as the 9th most business-friendly state. While Wisconsin gets none of theose accolades.

    For those interested in how Mark Dayton wiped out 6 Billion in debt and now has a 1 Billion surplus; and how he managed to create 172,000 jobs in 4 years when Pawlenty (a Republican) could only create around 6,600 in 8 years – while not only raising taxes on the top 2%, but also by raising the min wage and edicting that women have to paid the same for equal work. Heres a link that shows some sharp contrasts between a successfully governed state, and just one more state that’s walking its way into being just another GOP disaster state.

    And the article at this link talks about how Mark Dayton is anything but what we would consider as successful leader to be – he’s anything but charismatic and a good orator.

  • FireBaron

    This article makes him sound like he is in the exact same mold as those other Republican luminaries – Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann! Raising ignorance to a new level while surrounding oneself with individuals who tell you what you want to hear. Sounds kind of like THE DONALD!

    • Raja Mitchell

      Yeah, Donald is a dolt too…

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Oh puhlease…What is there to know about Walker? He is the exemplification of the GOP ideal…White, male, pretty boy, middle aged, educationally bankrupt, easy to control with the wave of a billionaire’s money and ready to pounce on anyone who has not had his lucky affiliations with rich men who will become Back Room presidents. Pure Koch fabrication.

    • Canistercook

      Sounds like you are describing Hillary!

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Sounds like you were not taught the difference between educated women who are accomplished and a Wisconsin cheese doodle who can’t put his own pants on without help.

  • Raja Mitchell

    He’s a dolt…

  • Paul Bass

    So the top tier GOP/TP candidate is a dumbsh&t college dropout, who likely was throw out due to cheating, doesn’t believe in climate change or evolution, and is vying for the bigoted anti-gay christian flat earth vote?

    Let us hope that is not a majority in 2016.

  • pmbalele

    You forgot the good ones: He is a college drop-out and hates college graduates. Actually he was kicked out of college. If he had lost last year, he would said he would re-enroll. He wants to get rid of all 4 -year and beyond universities and replace them with technical schools. Walker does not see any benefits having doctors, nurses, scientists trained or educated in Wisconsin or country. He says will import them from Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, China, Japan, Britain and Europe and will pay them cheap. There is no right to employees. He wants employee be slaves and bullied by employers. He has hired Commissioners who make sure bullied employees lose their cases. He hates Blacks and racial minorities. He has instructed some department not to hire Blacks: DNR, DOC, OCI and DOA. Last year he wanted Wisconsin secede from USA to make Wisconsin a foreign country. This would have enabled him get rid of all Blacks and racial minorities from Wisconsin. You hinted Walker hired Yes people. Walker is running a corrupt government. Last year he gave .5mi contract to his buddies to study fishing industry in Wisconsin. He was stopped. Women in Wisconsin can be paid lower than men doing the same jobs. Women’s rights are not in Walker agenda. He wants to abolish women’s right to their bodies. He wants to get rid of all constitutional departments such as DPI, DOJ and the Judiciary and make himself King. Actually he wanted to do the Tommy Thompson way- Be the master of all trades. Even 1-12 schools are now in trouble. He decommissioned Badgercare and refused to adopt Obamacare resulting 100,000 people lose their health insurance. He refused fast railway track money costing Wisconsin 100,000 jobs. His own family is against Walker. How can he function as president when his own sons hate him? This guy will be another Newt Gingrich. But people in Waukesha love that. Good for them.

  • idamag

    No surprise – he looks like what he is.

  • Irishgrammy

    I started paying attention to Walker when he was in trouble with the Teachers Union and other Union workers before his recall. Every time I heard him talk, all I could think of was a fast talking used car salesman……talked and talked and said close to NOTHING! What is really troubling is his habit of indicating he “won’t do something” really scary, then once elected along with his majority GOP legislature partners in crime, go ahead and do it. He is the go to butt kisser for the Koch brother’s agenda and Walker is glad to do their dirty work. Koch’s want to end Social Security and Medicare and of course the ACA. In addition to being a pathological liar especially when it comes to pumping up his own image…..there Is a story out there about a totally made up ploy with something about the Reagan Bible and having a photo taken with it that Walker totally arranged and tried to sell the Nancy Reagan wanted this to happen, totally made up by Walker. Then there is the British Prime Minister, Cameron whom Walker said “confided in him” (LOL) that no one in Europe liked President Obama and thought he was weak……upon which Cameron immediately stated that that was NOT true and was not at all how he felt!!! You would think this “preacher’s” boy would know better, but it almost always is the case sometimes people like Walker are the worst and most offensive liars……..he clearly believes his own fantasies and doesn’t recognize other will NOT join in his fantasies…….Something really wrong with a man who attacks teachers, nurses etc. showing such disrespect and contempt as he has. Have come to the conclusion he is possibly a very “misguided” and dangerous little man!

  • Democat

    You failed to mention that Walker wants to ban ALL abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

  • smartdee

    Scott Walker is the most evil and corrupt politician to ever hit Wisconsin. I certainly hope that the American people seriously do their research on him and see just how corrupt he is. He is a money grubbing power hungry puppet of the Koch Brothers and their ilk. He has spent more money on high-powered lawyers to hide his dastardly deeds, has more security guards than any previous governor and wears a bullet proof vest. Not the kind of man who should be leading a state let alone a nation.