This week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit government watchdog group, released a report -- "The Worst Governors in America," and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in sixth in the top category. The report has an amusing circus theme and dubs Walker a "Ringmaster," but it is heavily documented and footnoted to reliable sources and primary documents. The criteria CREW used when assessing the nation's governors were the following: corruption, transparency, partisan politics, pressuring public officials, cronyism, self-enrichment, scandal and mismanagement.
Walker made the list of most ethically challenged public officials due to poor marks in several categories, including cronyism, scandal, mismanagement and excessive partisanship. The report reviews his promotion of the Koch Brothers' agenda -- the Kochs are some of his biggest campaign donors. He also got dinged for the extensive "John Doe" investigation of illegal activity that took place during his time as Milwaukee County Executive and during the gubernatorial race which resulted in the criminal convictions of several of his former staff members. And, his mismanagement of the national mortgage settlement funds and creation of the privatized and highly dysfunctional Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which lost track of some $12 million in taxpayer funds, helped bump him to the number six spot in the list.
Other governors who beat out Walker to occupy the top five spots include: 1) Georgia Governor Nathan Deal whose term has been rife with corruption and scandal, 2) Maine Governor Paul LePage who's known for making offensive comments in addition to his questionable ethics in office, 3) Virginia Governor Robert (Bob) McDonnell who made the number three spot with help from a federal grand jury investigation into alleged official misconduct, 4) Texas Governor Rick Perry, who's known for his epic presidential campaign flop, made the list due to a laundry list filled with instances of cronyism, partisan politics, corruption, and self-enrichment, 5) and finally, Florida Governor Rick Scott slid in just ahead of Scott Walker due to numerous ethical concerns regarding his conduct in office, voter disenfranchisement, efforts to privatize Medicaid, and a prison privatization plan that would enrich the nation's two largest for-profit prison companies, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), who also donated to his inaugural fund and campaigns.
CREW primarily focuses on the ethics of federal government officials, but the organization reports that it decided to evaluate state governors "because their actions have a major impact on public welfare, [and] with Washington mired in partisan gridlock, much of the legislative action takes place at the state level."