Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, facing a recall election in a little over three weeks, was caught on tape telling a top donor that he has a strategy to turn Wisconsin into a right to work state:

A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use “divide and conquer” as a strategy against unions.

Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor’s campaign – making her Walker’s single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history [...]

In the video, Hendricks told Walker she wanted to discuss “controversial” subjects away from reporters, asking him:

“Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions -”

“Oh, yeah,” Walker broke in.

“- and become a right-to-work?” Hendricks continued. “What can we do to help you?”

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,” Walker said. “The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” [...]

“So for us,” the governor continues, “the base we get for that is the fact that we’ve got – budgetarily we can’t afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there’s no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out. . . . That opens the door once we do that. That’s your bigger problem right there.”

The date of this conversation is January 18, 2011, just a couple weeks after he was elected, and BEFORE he released the budget repair bill that included the stripping of most collective bargaining rights. Some of the conversation appears in this ten minute promo reel for the film “As Goes Janesville,” but reporters got to see the raw footage of the whole conversation.

This has the potential to bring back to the fore the animating purpose for the recalls in the first place: Scott Walker’s war on workers. Sadly, the folks orchestrating the recall have gotten away from that in recent months, and as a result, a seeming lack of energy has attended the recall elections. You hear vague, anodyne things like “Scott Walker divided this state, we have to come together.” The focus is all over the place. But this conversation encapsulates why voters wanted to recall Walker: he hid his true ambitions, to run over public employees like teachers and nurses in the state. When he released his plans, he specifically tried to “divide and conquer” by exempting public safety workers, most of whom didn’t take the bait – the head of a local firefighters’ union, Mahlon Mitchell, is the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor in the recalls.

Walker is STILL lying to the state about his intentions. In April, he said that “Private sector unions are my partner in economic development” and that right to work would never happen in Wisconsin. But this was his blueprint from the very beginning. He wants to impoverish state workers and send the profits up to management.

Tom Barrett, Walker’s opponent in the recall, jumped all over this.

“This is another colossal bait and switch that goes directly to his honesty,” Barrett said. “What he claims he is not in favor of publicly, to the person who has made the largest contribution in state history, he says exactly the opposite. You can’t trust him.”

Barrett has been hammering Walker on right-to-work legislation for weeks, frequently using the phrase “divide and conquer.” Barrett said he used that term because he believed that was Walker’s strategy, but did not know until Thursday that Walker himself had used it.

I hope this focuses the minds of the recall architects on what this recall is all about. If so, there’s a real chance to dump Walker.

More from local Wisconsin site Blogging Blue.