MADISON, Wis. — Over his eight years as Governor, Scott Walker has grown accustomed to the perks of the office. A particular favorite, according to a One Wisconsin Now investigation, is taxpayer-financed travel in state owned aircraft. Records show the state’s first flier has more than doubled the tab for air travel between 2011 and 2017, starting at $155,548 in 2011 and exploding to $326,705 in 2017.
“Scott Walker isn’t the same guy who bragged he drove a used car and packed his own lunch,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “After eight years in the Governor’s mansion he’s all in on sticking taxpayers with the tab for his fly arounds, more than doubling the amount from 2011 to 2017, not because he needs to travel by air, but because he wants to.”
The numbers showing how the tab for “Walker Air” has risen since first taking office comes on the heels of an investigation by One Wisconsin Now detailing the serial misuses and abuse of taxpayer funded state airplanes from the end of Walker’s presidential bid in September 2015 through April 2018. Flight data compiled by One Wisconsin Now showed Walker took an astounding 869 flights in that time, flying on average every three days and racking up over 114,000 miles in the air at a net cost to taxpayers of over $818,000.
The information is also available to the public at onewi.org/ScottWalkerAIR.
In an angry post on his social media, Gov. Walker attempted to justify his frequent flying, claiming, for example, he used state planes to attend listening sessions. In fact on at least 26 occasions at a cost in excess of $65,000 Walker did fly to attend closed to the public and media sessions restricted to attendees invited by Walker’s office, oftentimes picked from lists provided by lobbyists, fellow Republican politicians and his state agencies with regulatory power over businesses.
Walker also used the state plane for questionable personal purposes. For example, he dispatched a state plane to come to pick him up in Milwaukee so he could get a haircut and attend the funeral of a major donor to his campaign before going to an NRA event. On another occasion he flew to funeral in Green Bay on a Saturday so he could return to Madison in time to attend a football game. The tab to taxpayers for these days flights of convenience was $2,586 and $1,755 respectively.
The administration has not yet fulfilled One Wisconsin Now’s request for additional flight data covering May through July. But, if Walker continues at the pace he was on in the first quarter of 2018, he will stick taxpayers with his largest ever annual tab for flying him around the state and country.