Walker and Barrett Clash: Dead Child, John Doe and New Jobs Numbers Dominate Debate
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his recall challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett met in Milwaukee last night for their second and final debate. The structure of this debate, moderated by one of Wisconsin's leading newsmen, WISN's Mike Gousha, allowed for more back and forth between the candidates and led to heated moments as underdog Tom Barrett went on the offense. Barrett slammed Walker for cutting a campaign ad that features a dead child in an attempt to criticize Barrett for the Milwaukee Police Department's under-reporting of crime. There is no evidence that Barrett knew about the under reporting or the tragic death of the child. Barrett defended his police department: "Milwaukee police arrested that man and put him in jail, but did not use the right code when reporting the crime... you should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker," Barrett charged. Walker did not apologize.
On the topic of the ongoing "John Doe" criminal investigation of Walker's former staff and associates during the time he was Milwaukee County Executive, Walker was asked about breaking news last night from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showing prosecutors sought the secret investigation more than two years ago because Walker's office at the time was "unwilling or unable" to provide records and information. (More on this new story below.) Walker said the investigation was started at the request of his office, but that his office was unable to get information from a veterans volunteer. Walker said he could not release emails from the investigation as Barrett and others have requested because he is not allowed to, a new contention in the debate. Barrett's conclusion: "I have a Police Department that arrests felons, he has a practice of hiring them."
Another top issue from the debate was jobs. Walker went data shopping and issued new employment data two weeks ago that showed about 23,300 jobs were created in 2011, a dramatic swing from previously reported Bureau of Labor Statistic numbers showing a 33,900 drop, the worst performance in the nation. At one point Barrett said that even if one accepted the new Walker statistic that was released in coordination with a Walker campaign ad, Wisconsin has the worst job creation record in the Midwest region of the country. At one point the host, Gousha, asked Walker directly if he would veto a bill intended to destroy private sector unions called a "right to work" bill if it came to his desk. Walker has been asked this question before, and has always skirted the yes or no question by saying that the bill would never make it to his desk. He once again refused to answer the question, and Barrett characterized his inability to answer the question by saying "he would have a fall from grace with the far right if he would say he's going to veto that."
New Evidence Shows Walker Office Stonewalled Prosecutors, in Contrast to Repeated Claims of Cooperation
Last night, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporter Dan Bice broke the story that "Walker's office stonewalled DA inquiry, record shows." According to the report, documents were filed in the Milwaukee County Courthouse this week that "cast doubt on some of Walker's claims about his role in launching and cooperating with the investigation." The MJS quoted from the newly public legal petition filed May 5, 2010 by the prosecutor's office asking for the authority to initiate the secret John Doe investigation because Walker's office had been "unwilling or unable" to turn information needed in the investigation into $11,000 in missing money donated to the Walker "Operation Freedom" war veterans' initiative. The prosecutor told the court a "John Doe" investigation was needed to subpoena county records and officials that it could not get voluntarily.
A subpoena is a legal document requiring cooperation and access to information. Because subpoenas are issued to compel cooperation in investigations when such cooperation is not happening, the document contradicts repeated claims by Walker that he and his office "fully cooperated" with the investigation. As noted by the MJS: "The investigation has led to criminal charges against three former Walker aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor. On Thursday, Walker's former county spokeswoman, Fran McLaughlin, was granted immunity as part of the investigation. She is the 13th individual to receive immunity in the case."
Bill Clinton Coming in for Tom Barrett, Priebus Says the Race is a Bellwether
Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Wisconsin to help get out the vote for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Clinton will join Barrett at Pere Marquette Park in Milwaukee today at 10 a.m., rallying voters for the June 5 election. The savvy former President has been reading the daily tracking polls that put the race in a dead heat. He is also acting as a surrogate for the Obama campaign which has so far declined to get directly involved in the race. The Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Wisconsinite Reince Priebus, is not the only person to see the recall election as a bellwether for the 2012 presidential election. Priebus said, "Certainly [if] Wisconsin goes red, I think it's lights out for Barack Obama," according to ABC News.
Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party Express Holding Rally in Madison Tonight
According to a press release issued by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, it will hold a rally "at the Alliant Energy Center on John Nolen Drive at 6pm on Friday, June 1st" with the state Tea Party Express. AFP has claimed its rallies and bus tours in advance of the election Tuesday have nothing to do with the election Tuesday. The director of AFP's Wisconsin operations, Luke Hilgemann, a former aide to Rep. Scott Suder, stated in the press release that the rally will "promote the ideals of economic freedom and limited government" as exemplified by Wisconsin's policies since 2011. The Tea Party rep, Amy Kremer, stated on the release, "This rally is meant to fire up activists in the area and encourage them to get involved in moving Wisconsin forward. ... We need the Wisconsin way to be an example for the rest of the country."
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley Campaigning for Walker
South Carolina's Republican Governor Nikki Haley will be stumping for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in Madison today. Haley has been a proponent of right to work legislation, and proudly describes herself as a "union buster." In an interview with Greta Van Susteren Haley said, "There's a reason South Carolina's the new 'it' state. It's because we're a union buster." South Carolina has long been unfriendly towards unions. The Spring Valley Patch wrote that South Carolina has the "second-lowest rate of unionization in the country, with just 3.4 percent of its workforce represented by a union." This may explain why South Carolina has suffered a 4 percent decrease in wages in the last two years, and why South Carolina's per capita income is $8,000 below the national average.
Join CMD in Baraboo on June 2 with John Nichols and Ed Schultz
The Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of PR Watch, is sponsoring an event in Baraboo, this Saturday, June 2 at 7pm at the Al. Ringling Theatre. John Nichols, of The Nation magazine and The Capital Times, will be speaking about the historical roots of recall and other progressive-era reforms. He will be joined by MSNBC's Ed Schultz and others in this discussion. Nichols and Schultz will be appearing at other events around the state as well. Nichols will be at Hodag Park in Rhinelander at 6pm on Friday, June 1. On Saturday, June 2, Nichols and Schultz will be at the Labor Temple in Racine at noon, and at Echo Lake Park in Burlington at 3 p.m. Details for Sunday's events TBA. For more details on the event in Baraboo look here.
The Center for Media and Democracy does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. Since 1993, CMD has been reporting on corporate spin and government propaganda, exposing public relations tactics, and debunking PR campaigns.