The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a conservative paper, endorsed Scott Walker in the June 5 recall election over the weekend, saying that his removal from office “isn’t justified.” The Sentinel spends the rest of the editorial adding that Walker’s assault on collective bargaining went too far, primarily to “deal a harsh blow to a key Democratic constituency.”
They add that bills cutting off women’s health options, allowing concealed-carry of firearms and promoting abstinence-only education represented “an unfortunate sharp turn to the right.” They acknowledge that job creation has been “sluggish” under Walker, that important bills that should have gained majority support failed due to Walker’s party’s “arrogance.” They also call Walker’s attacks on Tom Barrett’s record as Milwaukee mayor essentially disingenuous, especially because Walker served as county executive in Milwaukee during much of that time. This is all in the endorsement editorial!
But they conclude that the recalls hurt the state and that, essentially, only criminal wrongdoing should lead to the recall of a sitting Governor. So there.
Fortunately, Walker has possibly exhibited that behavior as well. Walker created a legal defense fund for issues surrounding the ongoing “John Doe” investigation. Newly released documents show that a legal defense fund can only be created in Wisconsin by an elected official who is a target of an investigation:
Scott Walker has refused to describe the conditions under which his criminal defense fund has been created. New documents from the Government Accountability Board, obtained by state Senator Jon Erpenbach, show definitively that Walker MUST BE either a target of the investigation and/or he is bankrolling the defense of heinous crimes.
The G.A.B. affirms that the law is very clear: an elected official can only establish a legal defense fund if they, or their agent, are under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance and election laws.
Nothing in either the correspondence from the G.A.B. or the guideline adopted by the Board regarding legal defense funds provides for an elected official creating a legal defense fund for the sole purpose assisting the prosecution or aiding the investigation of Ch. 11 or 12 violations, as Scott Walker claims he is doing.
The above-referenced documents spell this out here and here. Incidentally, in their editorial, the Journal-Sentinel took Walker at his word that he was not a target, something that doesn’t match with his setting up the legal defense fund.
In addition, in light of the divide and conquer video showing a discussion between Walker and a top campaign donor, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are wondering whether Walker lied to Congress:
On April 14, 2011, Governor Walker testified before our Committee at a hearing entitled “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.” During the hearing, Governor Walker was asked detailed questions about his unprecedented efforts to roll back protections for state employee unions in Wisconsin. He argued repeatedly that repealing these protections was necessary to help balance his state’s budget. During questioning, Rep. Connolly asked Governor Walker whether he was targeting unions for political purposes rather than budgetary reasons:
Rep. Connolly: Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base?
Governor Walker: No.
Rep. Connolly: Never had such a conversation?
Governor Walker: No.
This exchange was the subject of a blog post for The Nation last week. Contrast Walker’s answer with the “divide and conquer” video, and there’s definitely a discrepancy. Indeed he did have a conversation, on tape, with a top donor about punishing unions, who primarily fund Democrats, in Wisconsin.
Scott Walker’s criminal liability and possible perjury before Congress won’t make the mailers he’s sending out. But it should certainly serve as meeting the test put out by the Journal-Sentinel on removal from office.