wisconsin capitol
Column
July 30, 2015

Invitation Accepted, Governor Walker

In his Register guest column, [“Walker: Clinton fights for special interests,” July 28] Scott Walker invited us to evaluate politicians on the company they keep and their record. We’re happy to accept and share a glimpse of the cronyism, corruption and incompetence that has marred the Walker administration in Wisconsin.

As governor, Scott Walker has pursued a tired, trickle-down economic agenda that’s produced predictably dismal results. Tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations are doled out with regularity while K-12 public schools have been subjected to the largest cuts in state history, technical college funding was slashed and budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin System are approaching $1 billion.

Crony capitalism is alive and well in Wisconsin, too, thanks to Scott Walker. Consider the escapades at his privatized economic development agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. In just one instance WEDC handed out a risky $500,000 loan without observing basic safeguards under pressure from a top Walker aide and his former gubernatorial campaign manager to a businessman who made the maximum allowable donation to Walker’s 2010 campaign. To date, no taxpayer funds have been recovered.

In fact our research has found that roughly 60 percent of funds intended for economic development went to businesses whose owners and officers have donated to Walker’s campaigns.

The results? Job creation in Wisconsin lags every Midwestern state and most of the nation and our state’s middle class is shrinking faster than anywhere in the nation.

It’s said a leopard can’t change its spots, and neither can career politician Scott Walker. With an eye always on his next election, Walker is always on the prowl for campaign cash. His latest campaign manager admitted as much in a recent interview, saying of Walker’s scheduling and travel priorities, “It’s all based on fundraising. Let’s be honest. I mean, you have to go where the money is.”

Perhaps that’s why Walker, after officially announcing he was running for president, didn’t first come to Iowa, the home of the first nominating caucus in 2016, but instead traveled to Las Vegas, the home of GOP mega-donor casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. And do you really believe that Walker traveled to Philadelphia just for a photo op of him cutting in line to order a cheesesteak sandwich?

While we are often at odds with Walker, on this we can agree: He most certainly should be evaluated by the company he keeps and his record in office.

 

This column appeared in the Des Moines Register.

# # #

Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director since 2007, has served as a senior communications director and research strategist for numerous statewide campaigns and elected officials.

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