Scott Walker is a star amongst the Tea Party crowd nationwide, but the spotlight comes along with scrutiny from national media outlets eager to get the facts on Wisconsin’s governor. With 2016 presidential implications in the balance, and Scott Walker in the fight of his political life, national reporters are digging into the governor’s record and coming to the same conclusion: Walker is a career politician who will say and do anything to get reelected.
This summer, the New Republic looked at Scott Walker’s divisive brand of politics, taking a microscope to his career politician tactics. GQ magazine is the latest national outlet to dig into Walker’s record and paint a portrait of a career politician.
Journalist Robert Draper says Walker’s career is a, “master class on political opportunism.” His profile highlights Scott Walker’s unbridled political ambitions, featuring a quote from Tonette Walker that at age 25 Scott Walker told his then-fiancee, "Someday I'm going to be governor."
Since entering politics, Scott Walker has always had his eyes on a larger prize, constantly running for election and using his current position as a stepping stone for higher office.
In his first term as governor Walker has stepped fully into the career politician role, jet-setting across the nation to rub elbows with elite donors, boasting a large entourage, constantly dodging questions from the media, and displaying a belief that the rules do not apply to him.
Scott Walker Will Say Anything To Win Elections
Earlier this year, the independent fact-checking organization Politifact ranked Scott Walker ninth on their list of the most fact-checked politicians in America.
Based on the report, Scott Walker is the number one most factually-challenged politician in America.
At the time of the ranking, Walker was fact-checked 85 times. More than half, 54 percent, where rated "mostly false," "false," or "pants on fire." Walker had the highest percentage of false claims of anyone on the list.
Wisconsin media know all too well Walker’s inclination to avoid the truth, muddy the waters, and dodge the tough questions; getting a straight answer out of a career politician who knows every trick in the book is a tough task.
The Rules Don’t Apply To Scott Walker
Walker definitely seems to think the rules don't apply to him or his administration.
In an April court filing, special investigator Dean Nickel discussed information that Gogebic Taconite (GTAC), an out-of-state mining corporation, had donated $700,000 to Club for Growth for Walker. Nickel’s discovery shed light on the largest pay-to-play scheme in state history, as GTAC gained direct influence over Scott Walker and the legislative process as a result of their massive donation.
Walker and his campaign are the target of an investigation into what prosecutors described as a possible nationwide “criminal scheme”.
Despite the investigation, Walker continues to blur the lines between campaign activity and government activity. According to documents obtained by the New York Times, Walker sent senior state aides, cabinet secretaries, top campaign staff, and close political advisers to a Republican Governors Association conference with corporate lobbyists who donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican governors.
At no point in his first term as governor has Walker not been under investigation, yet he continues to operate as if there is no line that separates campaign business from government business.
Air Walker; It’s ok the taxpayers will pay
Last fall, the Shepherd Express reported that Scott Walker spent nearly $184,000 in taxpayer money flying on state-owned planes in just the first half of 2013.
Walker’s most frequent travel was between his two residences in Madison and Milwaukee. The governor made the 75 mile trip 44 times between January and the end of June in 2013.
Walker also relied on taxpayer funds to finance his travel to visit campaign donors all around the state, including a visit to Wausau Paper last January. The paper manufacturing company’s employees have donated more than $42,200 to Walker since 2009.
According to documents obtained this year by the Shepherd Express, Walker billed taxpayers a whopping $221,046 for use of state-owned plans in just the first six months of 2014 - a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous year.
The Walker Entourage
News reports show Walker’s taxpayer-funded security costs increased by 239% as the governor took security details on campaign trips and even a family vacation to the Bahamas.
Taxpayers have spent more than $5.75 million on security for Walker, including at least 110 out-of-state trips to partisan events.
Rubbing Elbows With The Elite
Walker’s travels around the nation have one main purpose: building a war chest for 2016. The governor’s courting of big named donors is reported on widely, including a February visit to the mansion of billionaire Harlan Crow, a weekend in Las Vegas with billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and a trip to New York to court high-dollar financial industry donors.
It’s a clear indication that Scott Walker is focused on the next step in his political career. Wisconsin suffers as Walker takes his eye off the ball and cranks up his bid for 2016; the state is dead last in Midwest private sector job creation since 2011 and trails most of the rest of the nation in growth.