Walker's Record on Veterans Under Fire
On Memorial Day, Wisconsinites are honoring those men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This year, Memorial Day is taking place in the context of a historic recall election that is just eight days away, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing criticism from veterans and others over his handling of veterans affairs. An editorial in the Capital Times, reminds us that two of Walker's associates from his days as Milwaukee County Executive have been charged with embezzling money from the "Operation Freedom" charity for families of fallen soldiers. Tim Russell, a former Walker top aide, and Kevin Kavanaugh, a Walker appointee, were charged earlier in the year with embezzling over $62,000 from the veterans fund. Russell used the money to take expensive cruises and vacations with his boyfriend, Brian Pierick, who was also charged with child enticement. All three men are awaiting trial. The charity had been run by a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Milwaukee County, with no complaints. But Walker took control of the "Operation Freedom" charity away from the VFW and handed it over to his aide Russell, a decision still deserving of an explanation says the Capital Times.
In addition, veterans held a press conference in Green Bay on May 25 to point to a bill Walker signed into law that essentially repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed women and minorities to sue in state court over wage discrimination. Originally criticized as part of the "war on women," the bill will have a direct negative impact on veterans who seek recompense for wage discrimination, says Lt. Col. Michael Gourlie, who strongly and publicly opposed Walker's repeal of the Act. Newly released documents show that the Wisconsin Association of Concerned Veterans Organizations contacted Walker asking him to veto the bill because it "strips veterans of employment discrimination redress in circuit court." The bill also removed protections for military service members who are sent overseas or called up to serve their country from being fired for doing so. Walker signed the repeal into law on April 6, 2012.
Exposé Reveals Unprecedented Spending by Walker's Campaign
The Green Bay Press Gazette published an extensive article on Sunday that documents Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's unprecedented levels of spending for his campaign, which they contend never stopped after his election in 2010.
So far, Walker's campaign has spent most of its money on TV ads and mailers. The campaign spent more than $7.7 million on TV ads and more than $6.1 million on mailing services. The campaign also spent thousands on smaller expenses, such as yard signs ($63,387.45), food and drinks for fundraisers ($92,673.42) and polls ($264,531.95).
Arnold Shober, an assistant professor of government at Lawrence University in Appleton, said the spending is unprecedented.
"For most governors, you are going to find that those campaign things go into the background early on," Shober said. "The level (of campaigning) here in Wisconsin is unusual."
The investigation also found that "Walker's spending dwarfs Barrett's."
First Debate: Barrett on Offense, Walker on Defense
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had the first of two highly anticipated debates on Friday, May 25. Barrett was on offense at every opportunity, focused on the ongoing "John Doe" criminal investigation of Walker's former staff and associates during the time period when he served as Milwaukee County Executive. The investigation has already netted 15 felony indictments and Barrett repeated his call for Walker to turn over any emails related to the probe to the public. In a new line of attack Barrett also accused Walker of having signed recall petitions for Democratic Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold in 1997, when there was a failed effort to recall the legislators over pro-choice votes in Congress. While Walker and his supporters have suggested that recalls should only be for high crimes and misdemeanors, Walker did not deny the allegation that he signed the earlier recall petitions. Days later, after learning that the petitions had been destroyed Walker said he had "no recollection" of signing the petitions.
Congressmen Ask Walker to Withdraw Sworn Testimony
Three United States Congressmen wrote to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Friday, May 25 asking him to consider withdrawing his sworn testimony to Congress due to new reports revealing more inconsistencies in his testimony. WTDY radio reported last week that Walker testified before Congress that he got the idea for his controversial collective bargaining bill in December 2010, when a lame duck legislature was considering approving new union contracts, but new evidence indicates that the drafting of the bill was begun in November of 2010 before Walker was even sworn in. The letter follows an earlier communique from the members of Congress that highlighted other contradictions in his testimony. Walker denied that the motivation for the collective bargaining bill was political and denied ever having a conversation with anyone along those lines, however, a newly released video from January 2011, shows Walker telling billionaire campaign contributor Diane Hendricks that the measure was part of a "divide and conquer" strategy to make Wisconsin a "red" state.
High School Students Start PAC to Recall Walker
High School Students were one of the first groups to march to the Wisconsin State Capitol during last year's protests against Governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill which stripped teachers and most public sector workers of the right to collectively bargain. Now the Wisconsin State Journal reports that students from Madison West High School are diving into a political realm in a way usually reserved for political apparatchiks and big spenders. The high school students have started a political action committee (PAC) called "Students for Wisconsin." They describe themselves as "working to support public education in Wisconsin and to recall Scott Walker," and they have produced and released an ad on YouTube that features students reading quotes from Walker, and then reading facts from local newspaper stories that rebut Walker's claims. The ad also criticizes Walker's cuts to education, the biggest in the state's history. It ends with a student saying "The real cost of your budget is our education." What is next for Wisconsin's ingenious high school students? A SuperPAC?
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.