You can learn a lot from a campaign ad.
Early in May, I discovered one of Wisconsin’s most promising underground hip hop talents, and he’s running to be Governor, too! This guy’s gonna be a star!
Last week I learned just how kick-a$$ you have to be to run for Ag Commissioner in Alabama.
And this week, I learned Scott Walker really deserves the nickname Slippery Scott.
His latest ad, ‘Results,’ has Walker deftly dancing through a minefield of half-truths, distortion of the facts and outright lies about his record with that same aw-shucks, George Bush-but-from-Wisconsin demeanor we’ve come to expect.
The ad is supposed to highlight all the great things Walker has done for Milwaukee County, but about the only facts he gets right in the ad are that his first name is indeed Scott, his last name is Walker and he’s currently the Milwaukee County Executive. Beyond that, well…we did the hard work and fact checked Walker’s claims in the ad, and here are just the most glaring distortions.
Walker Claim #1: “In 2002, a pension scandal rocked Milwaukee County. The guy who had the job before me tried to grab millions for himself and friends. We had enough. We took back our government.”
OWN Fact Check: In 2007, Walker acknowledged his failure to fix the pension problem when it was revealed that 350 workers stood to gain another $50 million in extra pension benefits. He was also caught breaking his promise requiring his staff to take less-lucrative pension benefits. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 08/01/2007; 07/08/2004]
Walker Claim #2: “In fact, the first thing I did was to give part of my salary back to the taxpayers – $370,000 over eight years.”
OWN Fact Check: In 2007, Walker announced he was giving himself a $50,000 pay raise – which will total $200,000 over his four-year term. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/19/2008]
Walker Claim #3: “I cut the government workforce by 20 percent.”
OWN Fact Check: A private company that Walker outsourced courthouse security to employed a known criminal and sex offender on guard duty at the courthouse. Additionally, the cost savings Walker pledged when pushing through the privatizations was over $300,000 less than he claimed it would be. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 04/15/2010]
Walker Claim #4: “And I introduced eight budgets without raising the property tax levy from the previous year.”
OWN Fact Check: As county executive, Walker proposed budgets that would have increased spending by 35%, far ahead of the 21% proposed by Governor Doyle over the same period. And the actual county property levy increased by 20% during Walker’s tenure. [Analysis of proposed and adopted Milwaukee County budgets, 2003-2010; proposed and adopted State budgets, 2003-2010]
Walker Claim #5: “While Washington and Madison run up big budget deficits, we had an $8.9 million surplus.”
OWN Fact Check: The state has not had a year-end budget deficit under Governor Doyle, yet Scott Walker has had two year-end budget deficits – 2003 and 2004. Like the state, Milwaukee County has frequently announced mid-year budget deficits, which they are required by state constitution to close by the year end. [Milwaukee County Executive Budgets]
Walker Claim #6: “They say you can’t cut waste without sacrificing services – they’re wrong. ”
OWN Fact Check: Walker has failed repeatedly to provide Milwaukee County taxpayers with high quality, timely needed services. Milwaukee County bus routes are being slashed and fares are the highest fares in the nation; the state was forced to take over social programs for the county’s neediest residents; deaths, sexual assaults and unsafe conditions at county facilities for the mentally ill have gone unaddressed; the Sheriff was forced to take charge of the County House of Correction; and the County Courthouse building is crumbling, with notoriously unsanitary conditions and neglected grounds. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/1/2007, 8/23/2007, 9/18/2007, 10/18/2008, 1/1/2009, 2/4/2009, 5/8/2010; WISN-TV, 12/11/2009]
Walker Claim #7: “We invested in our airport and today its one of the fastest growing in America – adding nearly 1,000 new jobs.”
OWN Fact Check: Walker has repeatedly attempted to privatize the airport, most recently in 2009. The airport’s success stems from the development of the “Master Plan,” adopted by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in 1993, while Scott Walker was still in the state Legislature. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/16/2009; “Mitchell Airport Master Plan,” 2002]
Walker Claim #8: “We eliminated the waiting list for long-term care for our seniors.”
OWN Fact Check: Family Care, which manages county health services for seniors, ran severe deficits -$2.3 million in 2003, growing to $12.2 million by 2004. Walker’s solution was to outsource it, putting taxpayers on the hook to bail out the program for the full $12.2 million. [Department on Aging Care Management Organization Projected Deficit Report, Milwaukee County Board Digest, 6/23/05, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/30/2004]
Walker Claim #9: “We even won the gold medal for the best parks in the country.”
OWN Fact Check: The gold medal was for “parks administration,” not the actual quality of the parks. “Considering the reduced emphasis on parks spending since the 1970s, the county’s first-place national award for park management in 2009 was remarkable,” according to a county audit looking into the decline of the county parks system and enormous estimated deferred maintenance costs. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/14/09, 1/4/10; National Recreation & Park Association News Release]