Wisconsin Governor Pranked by Reporter Posing as Billionaire Conservative Activist
(By DEVIN DWYER, ABC News, Feb. 23, 2011)
An alt-news reporter posing as billionaire conservative activist David Koch recorded a 20-minute phone conversation with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during which Walker reveals his strategy for breaking Democratic and union opposition to his budget.
The governor's critics said the immediate access granted to "Koch" and the length of their conversation illustrates a damning tie between outside influences and what they see as an orchestrated effort to bust unions.
The governor's office confirmed Wednesday that the voice on the tape, first posted online at BuffaloBeast.com, was Walker. But a spokesman said the call showed the governor's "appreciation for an commitment to civil discourse" and repairing the state budget.
While Walker's comments closely tracked what he has said publicly -- expressing refusal to compromise or negotiate with Democrats -- they shed new light on the tactics he has considered to discredit his opponents and move the budget process forward.
The Republican governor's budget would, among other things, strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights and trim their benefits. Democrats have protested the plan and some lawmakers have fled the state to block the legislature from moving forward.
Walker said he was investigating whether the unions were paying food and lodging expenses of the 14 Democratic senators believed to be hiding out in Illinois. "If the unions have been paying to put these guys up out of state we think at the minimum there's an ethics code violation if not a felony," he said.
The governor also indicated that his overtures to Democrats to "sit down and talk" have an ulterior motive.
Once the Democrats register their presence in the chamber during the session, Walker said, Republicans may be able to proceed to move forward with the bill, whether or not the Democrats were present for the final vote.
"Legally, we believe once they've gone into session, they don't physically have to be there," Walker said. "My sense is hell, I'll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I'm used to that. But I'm not negotiating."
The prankster pretending to be Koch also asked Walker whether "troublemakers" should be "planted" into the protests, presumably to discredit their efforts. Walker reveals that he and his aides "thought about that," but decided against it.
"My only fear would be that if there was a ruckus caused, that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor's got to settle to avoid all these problems," Walker said.
"I think it's actually good if [the protesters are] constant, they're noisy, but they're quiet and nothing happens. Because sooner or later, the media stops finding them interesting."
"The phone call shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement.
The reporter behind the prank, known as "Murphy" on BuffaloBeast.com, wrote in a blog post that he devised the scheme to reach Walker after Democrats had complained of not being able to engage Walker on a path forward.
Murphy said that attempts to set up a call with Walker were surprisingly easy using the Koch name.
When he reached Keith Gilkes, Walker's chief of staff, he explained that he wanted to talk directly to Walker.
"He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, 'My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I'd have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.' Gilkes found this amusing. 'I'm calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it's called. You know, the Snype!'" he said of the exchange on his blog.
Gilkes then apparently gave Murphy the number to call Walker directly at the approved time.
"Koch" ended the 20-minute call with a promise and encouragement to Walker.
"Well I tell you what Scott, once you crush these bastards I'll fly you out to Cali and show you a good time," the man posing as Koch said.
"Alright, that would be outstanding," said Walker. "Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward."
This graphic accompanies the Gallup poll I listed a few pages back, but breaks down the poll into demographics:
The concept that Independents support what's going on in WI simply is not supported by any data whatsoever, on either the local or national level.
Kilmeade responded by saying, “I think Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. And here’s the question that was posed. Do you favor or disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers. 66 percent in favor, 33 percent opposed, 9 percent up in the air.”
The very fact that a draft right to work law, like those that have existed in about 22 other states for the past 40+ years is being considered in Michigan, the former bastion of the UAW and the American labor movement, is a telling fact concerning public attituded towards labor unions.
I don't see this as the only issue that will haunt the GOP in the future. What about, a) no increase in taxes for the wealthy while our country goes deeper into debt, b) all while federal, state, and city governments cut back on services and schools, and c) where are the jobs the GOP promised?
Indiana Senate leader says right-to-work bill is dead
This 'movement' sure isn't spreading to other states the way that Conservatives were hoping it would, is it?
A defeat on this issue will be a huge loss for the Republicans, because - foolishly - they put themselves way on the line over an ideological issue that the public simply doesn't support as strongly as they convinced themselves they would.
Association is not causation - except of course when it advances a point you want to make. The stories of the abuse of the educational systems of New York, New jersey, Washington DC and many other states by the AFT are well-known.
And yet the press is filled with stories of unfunded public sector pension had health care obligations that are concentrated in stated with public sector unions.
Gosh ! Perhaps we're all wrong !
You are because you are missing cause and effect. The reason the pensions are unfunded is that the governments involved did not fund them. Private companies are legally obligated to fund their pensions so they have been funding as they go instead of allowing the problem to build so they can cut taxes.
Oh ! Now I understand. All the states have to do is raise taxes and everything will be OK. Still, I'm curious, why didn't they raise their taxes when they unionized the state workforces and bargained away all those pension and benefit increases?
[Then] Christine Todd Whitman became governor in 1994, and to balance out her deep tax cuts, she reduced the payments to the state's pension funds. That contributed to the growth of the unfunded liability.
In 1997, Ms. Whitman, a Republican, had the state borrow $2.75 billion to deposit in the pension funds, to address the liability and keep annual payments low. That infusion, plus the run-up in the stock market, gave the funds a surplus for a few years. But it also helped entrench the habit of paying little or nothing into the system from the state budget, and Ms. Whitman and her successors consistently paid a fraction of what was recommended.
From mid-1999 to mid-2006, the state contributed an average of about $23 million a year; keeping up with the formulas would have required more than $600 million a year.
In 2001, Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican, and the Republican-controlled Legislature raised pension benefits 9 percent and lowered the retirement age to 55, greatly increasing the future burden on the system. This came even as the stock market — and the value of the pension funds — was falling.
is this the time to be worrying about the national debt.
On Wednesday afternoon, Capuano issued a brief apology: "I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech. I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words."
Political rhetoric has become especially heated in Madison, Wis., where Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed major labor reforms that sparked more than a week's worth of rowdy protests at the state capitol.
Indiana state prosecutor fired over remarks about Wisconsin protests
An Indiana deputy attorney general lost his job Wednesday after commenting online that authorities should use "live ammunition" to run off the throngs of protesters railing over union collective bargaining rights two states away in Wisconsin.
The former state prosecutor, Jeffrey Cox, attached the comment "Use Live Ammunition" in response to a Feb. 19 Twitter posting by a writer for Mother Jones magazine. The writer, Adam Weinstein, wrote that riot police officers had been ordered to clear protesters from the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison.
The rumored 2 a.m. Sunday expulsion of protesters in Madison never happened.
Mother Jones on Wednesday published an article about Cox's Twitter posting and other inflammatory remarks the former state prosecutor had made online. By the end of the day, Cox had been fired from his job.
"Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General's Office," the agency said in a prepared statement. "We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility."
Cox's initial Twitter remark Saturday night set off a pointed online exchange between the prosecutor and the author of the Mother Jones article.
Cox, according to Weinstein, called the demonstrators "political enemies" and "thugs" who were threatening to injure elected officials.
"You're damned right I advocate deadly force," Cox purportedly wrote, according to the Mother Jones article. He also called the author a "typical leftist," and wrote, "liberals hate police."
Cox, who was contacted by Mother Jones Sunday morning, confirmed that he was an Indiana deputy attorney general.
"All my comments on twitter & my blog are my own and no one else's," Cox wrote, according to Mother Jones. "You will probably try to demonize me. But that comes with the territory."
After his firing, Cox's tone appeared more conciliatory.
"I think that in this day and age that tweet was not a good idea." Cox told CNN affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis
"And in terms of that language," Cox said. "I'm not going to use it any more."
When is the time ? 50 years ago ?
a national debt that was more then GNP during WW2 ended the great depression.