MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker’s frustration over One Wisconsin Now’s comprehensive research project released yesterday showing massive “abuse and misuse” of Walker’s use of the state plane boiled over today with the governor posting and signing an angry 274-word Facebook post claiming the travel was for “listening sessions.”
“The truth is the truth. Gov. Walker’s events were invite only and closed to the public and the media,” said Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now. “Gov. Walker flying to ‘town hall meetings’ that excluded the public and the media are yet another example of the expensive misuse and abuse of taxpayer resources.”
A review of One Wisconsin Now’s online database of Walker’s state plane use since late-September 2015 shows the governor used the state plane to fly to these invite only, closed to media and the public events on more than two dozen occasions at a staggering cost of more than $65,000. These events, where taxpayers were forced to pay for Walker’s air travel on the state plane, were 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.
One Wisconsin Now’s analysis found 26 occasions when Gov. Walker flew to attend one of his closed-door, invite-only town hall meetings in 2016. The total cost billed to taxpayers by Gov. Walker for flying on those days was $65,123.
Walker’s office has tried to justify his massive plane usage as legitimate efforts at outreach to the people of Wisconsin. But a former Walker cabinet secretary, Ed Wall, wrote in his recently released book about his time in the administration that, “The administration’s fear of a protestor spectacle at every stop would eventually turn the town hall meetings into little more than paid infomercial dog and pony shows for future campaign ads.” [“Unethical,” Page 163]
“We are alarmed at Gov. Walker’s outburst on his government Facebook page directed at our small non-profit organization,” said Ross. “Gov. Walker admitted on the radio he traveled around the state to rehabilitate his political fortunes and he stuck us with the $818,000 tab.”