Walker, the Weasel

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

December 12, 2018

In his letter this week foreshadowing his signing of the lame-duck bills, Gov. Scott Walker tried to pretend that he’s out protecting the interests of Wisconsinites.

But Walker is a weasel, and he uses words like a weasel would: to disguise what he’s actually been doing.

He listed four criteria for gauging the lame-duck legislation, but he’s fallen flat on his face on all four during his eight years in office.

The first was, “Does it improve transparency?” Walker has been notoriously un-transparent, insisting that cabinet members shouldn’t put anything in writing or in an email so as not to leave any paper trail. Walker himself claimed there was a “drafting error” in legislation to remove “the search for truth” from the mission statement of the University of Wisconsin, but it was Walker’s idea all along. And Walker signed legislation in 2015 that shields political donors from having to tell us who they work for. Walker also has refused to disclose the identity or identities of those who contributed over $446,000 to a criminal legal defense fund. So much for transparency.

The second was, “Does it increase accountability?” That one is really ironic since Walker destroyed the Government Accountability Board! This is the board that watched over ethics, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance. It had the power to help investigate alleged violations of the law, and that’s why Walker ripped it apart because it was investigating him for coordinating with outside groups when that was against the law.

The third was, “Does it affirm stability?” and does it uphold “common practice”? How did his move to “drop a bomb” on Wisconsin affirm stability and common practice? How did the GOP’s move to strip Shirley Abrahamson of her position of Chief Justice affirm stability and common practice? How did changing the Commerce Department into WEDC affirm stability and common practice?

The fourth was, “Does it protect the taxpayers?” But Walker has turned the state capitol into an ATM for his cronies and his donors and any business that comes knocking. The Foxconn deal alone puts the taxpayer on the hook for $4.5 billion. And WEDC has done an embarrassing job of tracking compliance and clawing back loans and tax breaks from companies that got millions and millions of dollars from the taxpayers but didn’t meet their obligations.

So who is Walker kidding here?