Walker Continues to Bend, Break Rules on Ethics and Campaign Finance

Following reports that Scott Walker is violating federal election law by taking unlimited contributions to his presidential political action committee, Wisconsin Democrats today filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board for his misuse of state, taxpayer funds to bolster his presidential campaign.

In keeping with his history of playing fast and loose with the rules, especially when it comes to misuse of public resources and campaign finance, Walker is this week on a self-promoting, taxpayer-funded trip to the United Kingdom. While promoted as official business, the trip has been characterized as a chance for Walker to bolster his credentials on foreign policy in the wake of an embarrassing turn on ABC’s “This Week” where Walker discussed putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.

Dating back to his early days running negative campaigns at Marquette University, Walker has a pattern of ignoring the rules if they don’t support his political ambitions. He’s been involved in not one, but two, criminal corruption probes investigating violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws and has repeatedly used public resources to promote his campaigns for office.

While serving as Milwaukee County executive between 2003 and 2010, Walker each year engaged in the "County Executive's Ride" to the major media markets around the state, a motorcycle tour comprising his political supporters with the ostensible purpose of promoting Milwaukee County tourism. In 2010, during his ultimately successful bid for governor, Walker moved the timing of the trip to coincide exactly not only with the date of the Republican Party’s state convention, but also to coincide with the site of the Republican convention, the Harley-Davidson Museum, where on May 21, 2010, the Republicans kicked off their annual convention. There, many of the same people who rode on the trip, who do not reside in Milwaukee County, could be seen as delegates at the convention.

And in July 2013, Walker sent high-level official and campaign staff to a Republican Governors Association retreat billed as a an opportunity for high-level Republican donors, lobbyists, and corporate sponsors to receive access to Republican governors and their senior staff members.

Besides Walker personally benefiting from his position as governor, in violation of Wisconsin law, using state resources to fund political travel constitutes an illegal political contribution of services belonging to the State of Wisconsin. The multiple violations alleged in the Party's complaint carry both criminal and civil penalties; some penalties are as high as $10,000 per violation, imprisonment not more than 3-1/2 years, or both.

Today's complaint from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin follows a complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission by the nonpartisan national watchdog group The American Democracy Legal Fund, which alleges that Walker’s Our American Revival, organized as a tax-exempt 527 political group, is being used as a presidential exploratory committee and is thus subject to disclosure limits under the law.

Citing multiple media reports, the ADLF complaint alleges that Walker’s political group has been accepting unlimited campaign contributions, to include a $25,000 contribution and a $100,000 contribution – well over the individual contribution limits for candidates using a 527 group. Those limits are just $2,700 per election, while contributions from a PAC are limited to $5,000.

“As someone who loves Wisconsin, it’s upsetting for me to see how Scott Walker has completely abandoned our state, and the mess he’s created here, to run for president. Ultimately, though, it’s a free country and Scott Walker is certainly welcome to run for president if he wants to, but Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for his campaign – his political ambitions have cost us enough already,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Thursday. “It’s clear that Scott Walker believes the rules are for other people.”