MADISON, Wis. — In response to the Donald Trump incited controversy over National Football League players’ peaceful protests of racial inequality and police brutality during the National Anthem, Gov. Scott Walker said weeks ago he would, “leave it up to them” whether to join. But the career politician yesterday reversed field, issuing a letter calling for players to stand during the anthem released just before the Republican Governors Association he heads began hawking merchandise for campaign contributions emblazoned with the slogan, “I stand.”
“Add the National Anthem to the list of issues on which Gov. Walker flip flopped,“ said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “If you really want to know where this guy stands on any given issue on any given day just follow the money.”
On September 27 Walker, responding publicly in the media in the aftermath of a Trump rant targeting NFL players who engaged in peaceful protest during the playing of the National Anthem before games, said, “I’m not going to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do.”
In a complete reversal of his position, Walker at roughly 2 p.m. on October 16 tweeted a link to a press release about a letter he sent to the NFL Commissioner and Executive Director of the Players Association calling for an end to the protests. He went on to suggest the players raising awareness of serious social issues who were targeted by Trump in an overtly racist speech in Alabama and in subsequent Twitter rants were creating a “political sideshow.”
Not coincidentally, Walker’s about face came mere hours before the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) that he heads sent out a fundraising solicitation announcing “I Stand” stickers were now available, in exchange for a campaign contribution to the RGA.
The Walker-led RGA has also created controversy recently with the launch of a propaganda website masquerading as a legitimate news outlet to spread negative attacks on Democrats and support Republicans. The website was promoted in an RGA fundraising appeal obtained by One Wisconsin Now as, “fact-checking the liberal media,” but includes a mix of stories from legitimate media sources in addition to right wing news outlets and the RGA’s own press releases.
Ross concluded, “This is all around a classic Gov. Walker play — dismiss concerns about racial justice, use patriotism as a prop to advance a political agenda and set aside any principle in pursuit of campaign cash.”