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Posted at 10:41 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Wisconsin Dems demand probe of Walker's conduct on fake Koch call

By Greg Sargent

Governor Scott Walker's conduct on the prank call with the David Koch imposter has largely receded from the national media spotlight, but if Wisconsin Democrats have their way, it will be the subject of an investigation by Wisconsin's enforcer of campaign finance and ethics statutes.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party is set to file a complaint today to the state Government Accountability Board that alleges Walker repeatedly violated Wisconsin statutes by appearing to request support from Koch in shoring up vulnerable Republicans and by indicating that he would use the threat of layoffs as a political tool.

I've got a copy of the complaint, to be released later today, and it's worth a read, not necessarily because of the impact it may or may not have, but because it's a reminder of how egregious Walker's conduct on the call really was.

The complaint, which reflects a sense among Dems that all bets are off in this standoff, makes an interesting argument. By any reasonable standard, it says, Walker's conduct should undermine "public trust" and fell well short of standards designed to ensure "the faith and confidence of the people of this state in their state public officials and state employees."

The complaint focuses on several aspects of the prank call, but I think these two may be the most interesting:

16. Respondent states during the Call that he has the Attorney General's office "looking into" strategies to force the Democratic senators to return. This constitutes a misuse of the independently elected office of the Attorney General for primarily political motivations.

And:

19. Respondent states during the Call that he will send out 5,000-6,000 layoff notices to public sector employees in an attempt to "ratchet up" pressure on the Democratic Senators. This use of threat against, and intimidation of, public sector employees for political purposes constitutes an unfair labor practice in violation of Wis. Stat. Section 111.84.

The complaint also alleges that it was improper for Walker to suggest to Koch that Republicans in swing areas might need shoring up, since this smacks of illegal coordiation, though to my mind it isn't clear what he was asking for. It also says that Walker's claim that he "thought about" planting troublemakers in the crowd "constitutes a conspiracy to recklessly endanger public safety," though here too it's not quite clear what Walker really considered doing.

That said, even those examples were eyebrow-raising, and the complaint is worth reading, because it's a reminder that taken together, Walker's shenanigans on the call add up to conduct that by any reasonable measure should raise serious questions about Walker's judgment and approach to his office. Some in the national media were quick to exonerate Walker after the call, but reading the complaint, the Wisconsin Democratic Party's claim that his conduct risks undermining the public trust in state government doesn't seem particulary unreasonable.

By Greg Sargent  | March 7, 2011; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Labor  
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Next: Big majority of Wisconsin independents wants Walker to compromise

Comments

RESIGN GOV WALKER, RESIGN!

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 7, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"Some in the national media were quick to exonerate Walker after the call"

Of course.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 7, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"his conduct risks undermining the public trust in state government:" geez, what about standing on an ideology that he did not campaign on? budget deficit - fine, the public workers have agreed to the fixes required to fix the deficit; but walker is determined to go it further. what about consumer protection laws - this sure seems like a case for bait and switch, even if it is the same 30 to 35% percent who has all the anger and voted when democrats didn't.

Posted by: sbvpav | March 7, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

claw is still holding out for a pregnant lady that can be dragged from the hospital bed as soon as the baby is born.

Because.


DRAGGING SCREAMING CHILDREN FROM THEIR MOMMY'S IS EXCELLENT NEWS!! FOR THE GOP!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | March 7, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Lol.

So apparently a Koch sponsored pro-Walker bus tour featuring Joe the tax dodging Plumber fizzled.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/38197_Pro-Walker_Bus_Tour_Ends_with_a_Whimper

Posted by: mikefromArlington | March 7, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Pretty damning stuff that, were it flogged in the MSM, would've ended this standoff a week ago.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | March 7, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile the Senate Dems have sent a letter to Walker requesting in person negotiations....at the state line.

"I assure you that Democratic State Senators, despite our differences and the vigorous debate we have had, remain ready and willing to find a reasonable compromise. To that end, I would ask that you or your authorized representatives agree to meet with us near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible.

The people of Wisconsin are overwhelmingly supportive of us reaching a bipartisan, negotiated compromise. Senate Democrats stand ready to do just that, we ask that you do the same."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/wis-dem-leader-to-walker-lets-meet-at-the-state-line.php?ref=fpi

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 7, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

January 3, 2011: Scott Walker Inaugurated as Governor of Wisconsin. Swears an oath to uphold the constitution of the State of Wisconsin.

Article I, Section 4: of the Wisconsin Constitution: "The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged." That this applies to the Capitol building: a prior opinion from the attorney general's office stated, "The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the Capitol or its grounds."

March 4, 2011: Judge John Albert declares Walker’s Department of Administration policy that restricts access to the capital to be “unconstitutional”.

= Governor Walker violated his oath.

Posted by: Really44 | March 7, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The long term budget issues are directly related to the fact that a union can negotiate larger compensation packages with a state government that uses taxpayer dollars to pay said union. Then said union promises to add dollars to that elected officials campaign. Its a vicious cycle and the question is, where is the representative for the taxpayer in that negotiation?
With a 3.6 billion dollar short fall, what is the answer? Oh, I know, tax the rich. One problem, Wisconsin is already the 8th highest taxed state in the country.

The reason to change state employee collective bargaining is that is transcends the union and any given elected official to make deals contrary to the people that pay the salaries, pensions and paychecks.

Lets see the phone transcripts between Obama and Holder and then discuss resignations.

Posted by: pcparker435 | March 7, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the Wisconsin Democratic State Senators are going to cave.

"Wis. Senate Democrats to return soon, lawmaker says"

"The State Senate Democrats who left Wisconsin to block a vote on a bill that would severely curb collective bargaining for most public employees are planning to return soon, one of the lawmakers said.

State Sen. Robert Jauch said the 14 Democrats are convinced that passing the measure would severely damage their Republican opponents."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/07/AR2011030701698.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: jnc4p | March 7, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Thank the gods that the first guy to try to implement the Great GOP Overreach of 2011 is such an incompetent and so full of himself. Kasich of OH is much more experienced and canny. Walker has set back the GOP agenda, hopefully fatally so. The comparisons to Terry Schiavo in 2005 are pretty apt. Walker has painted himself into a corner where any compromise makes him look weak, especially in his own eyes, but not compromising increasingly alienates the public. He seems pretty badly wounded at is point.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 7, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow...Dems with spines! When's the last time we've seen that?

I get all the legality behind the campaign finance violations etc...but I think the average American just shrugs and gives up...they've stopped following the money.
It's not perfectly permissible for the Oligarchs to simply spend their own money..ie. Whitman, McMahon and Scott. It only worked one out of three times but do we thing this is an anomaly or a trend?
Anyway folks are numb to the CU decision...

BUT the thing that does seem especially egregious...and the item which I don't understand failing to get tons of MSM coverage is..

"17. Respondent states during the Call that he consulted with staff members, including Cabinet officials, to consider "planting" troublemakers to incite violence in the peaceful crowds, deciding not to only insomuch as "that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all of these problems." This coordinated activity constitutes a conspiracy to recklessly endanger public safety in violation of Wis. Stat. Sections 939.31 and 947.01. "

Sending in the goons? Really? I think that disturbs everybody...and apparently Fox news agrees which is why they LIED with their now infamous video of "union violence" from a site with Palm Trees in the background. Just look at the righties on this site...how often do they talk about union violence and union goons...and here we have ACTUAL EVIDENCE of somebody contemplating sending in the goons and what is being done about it?

Scott Walker must have learned from Mubarak, remember the day he sent the goons in...on camels yet? I think in Wisconsin Harley's would be more appropriate but it's the same concept.

Posted by: rukidding7 | March 7, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

jnc4p: you left out a key sentence from your WaPo link:

"No date has been set for their return. "

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 7, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"the question is, where is the representative for the taxpayer in that negotiation?"

Answer-it's called the ballot box. This is why we vote.

Apparently you have no problem with these same politicians taking money from the wealthy oligarchs like the Kochs..only the poor working stiffs is that it? Where are the checks and balances on the Koch brothers...the same place as they are with the Unions...THE BALLOT BOX!

Of course if a union really scores big you're always welcome to exercise your First Amendment rights and join others of your ilk and hit the streets...much as the good folks of Wisconsin have already done.

Posted by: rukidding7 | March 7, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

" Kasich of OH is much more experienced and canny."

Experienced, yes, but canny? The guy repeatedly called a highway patrol officer an "idiot." Not too canny to call one of the cadre of first responders an "idiot".
I'm surprised he didn't say "you're an idiot, but and "we honor your service." This boneheaded move on Kasich's part was really a foreshadowing of events that took place last week. While everyone has their eyes on WI, it's Ohio, with its much larger population, where the public employees (in this case cops and fire fighters too) are being screwed. In a figurative sense the GOP is spitting on them.

Posted by: filmnoia | March 7, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

@suekzoo1 "jnc4p: you left out a key sentence from your WaPo link:

"No date has been set for their return. ""

True, but the larger point is that the Democratic State Senators have apparently decided that it's in their political interests to let the Republicans pass the bill as is and then campaign against them on the merits during the next election. This seems to be a substantial shift in strategy versus negotiations at the state line.

The other thing I take from the article is that the Democratic State Senators were willing to be quoted on the record, which makes me think it's pretty much a done deal.

"State Sen. Robert Jauch said the 14 Democrats are convinced that passing the measure would severely damage their Republican opponents."

...

""We should be returning soon in order to provide an opportunity for a vote and to hold the Republicans responsible for their actions," Jauch said. "It will be a chance to see whether the Republicans are on the side of the people who oppose this or on the side of a governor who is out of touch with the people.""

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/07/AR2011030701698.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: jnc4p | March 7, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

""the question is, where is the representative for the taxpayer in that negotiation?"

Answer-it's called the ballot box. This is why we vote. "

haha, the original comment made me laugh. The representatives for the taxpayer are the ones who the taxpayers...you know...elected to be their representatives. Which goes back to the point that no one is compelling states to accept these so-called outrageous demands. If the state doesn't want to pay what these professionals are asking for, then don't have to.

Ezra Klein makes a good point too. If Conservatives are concerned about union campaign contributions, they should be in favor of campaign finance reform, not in destroying unions.

But of course, Conservatives don't care about reform, at least not for their side. And of course, not a chance that DISCLOSE passes.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 7, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

All, new poll finds that 68 percent of Wisconsin independents want Walker to compromise with labor and Dems:

http://wapo.st/hmTFOu

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 7, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@filmnoia

Great points about Ohio. I don't wish to go from the general to the specific but I think many of us operate from the personal as lmsinca and ABC pointed out in an earlier thread.

My son lives in Columbus. He is at a point in life where he is not pro union at all..perhaps even a bit anti - union...he doesn't personally believe in abortion..but he is not religious and he doesn't feel he has the right to inflict his beliefs on them...he votes both D and R he is the famous Ohio Independent...that block of voters that make Ohio such a swing state.

The R's and Kasich have thoroughly disgusted him with both their methods and their goals. He doesn't like the way they've gone about trying to break the unions and the stunt with the lady and her fetus testifying at the Capitol was so over the top for him that it will take some doing for the current crop of R's to ever regain his respect. He despises Kasich already, voted against him, because he sees him as a back room deal maker for the corporations and R party...

How does that ole saying go.."You can fool some of the people some of the time..yadda yadda.

Posted by: rukidding7 | March 7, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Some in the national media were quick to exonerate Walker after the call (including Ezra Klein and our very own Greg Sargent):

"In fairness to Walker, the exchange is quite convoluted. It's not clear what precisely he was asking for when he suggested support to shore up embattled legislators. It's also unclear how the fact that the caller turned out to be a fake would impact the legal issues involved." (2/24/11) Greg Sargent

"To Walker's credit, he doesn't say anything incriminating. When Murphy/Koch offers to plant demonstrators, Walker declines. The worst you can say is that when Murphy/Koch makes a lewd comment about Mika Brzezinski, Walker doesn't challenge him on it. But that portion reads to me as Walker politely grunting in response to an odd provocation. I imagine politicians are pretty good at gently moving the conversation along when their contributors say crazy things." (2/23/11) Ezra Klein

What the fake call proved was that Gov. Walker and the real David Koch have never spoken before. We STILL have not seen the full extent of journ-O-list ; )

Posted by: clawrence12 | March 7, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Greg- As you correctly state in the column to which you link, 65% favor compromise, not the 68% stated here. Just a small correction.

Posted by: mobrien83 | March 7, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention the spot where the Republican Governor considered planting trouble makers to make those who disagree with him look bad. Would the Governor, and his party, accept responsibility (legal AND financial) if a riot resulted? If any injuries or deaths resulted?

Are they the party of 'law and order'?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | March 7, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

What the fake call proved was that Gov. Walker and the real David Koch have never spoken before.
----------------------------------
You're absolutely right, Gov. Walker should bring up this phone call as often as he can just to hammer this point home. (heavy, heavy, snark)

Posted by: ashotinthedark | March 7, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"he votes both D and R he is the famous Ohio Independent...that block of voters that make Ohio such a swing state.'

Since Kasich and the GOP have done an over reach (another reason why this guy isn't canny), I suspect your son may be one of those many voters that is going to give Ohio to Obama once again in 2012.

Posted by: filmnoia | March 7, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying that he should bring up this phone call, but whenever the Dems use it as sword, he should use it as a shield. What about Greg and Ezra being quick to exonerate Gov. Walker? Do you think that was, at least in part, due to the liberal overreach following the Tucson shooting?

Posted by: clawrence12 | March 7, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, claw, but that shield is made of construction paper. You're kidding yourself if you think that's anything other than an extremely weak point.

Not sure why Greg and Ezra were quick to "exonerate". Maybe Arizona played a role, but I think it was merely that there was no need to overpaly the hand there. The attack on collective bargaining was already proving to be unpopular so there was no need to exaggerate what the conversation did or didn't mean. There was no similar dynamic with respect to Arizona.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | March 7, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Did you read the "verified complaint" yet? Overplayed or not?

Posted by: clawrence12 | March 7, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"I suspect your son may be one of those many voters that is going to give Ohio to Obama once again in 2012."

Yeah he was over Kasich even before he got elected and of course he has me pounding him from the left. :-) So I'd be surprised if he voted R in the next Presidential.

Posted by: rukidding7 | March 7, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Following the commandments of the GOP (Grease Our Palms, Grab Our Profits and Give Others Poverty), this corporate shill spent 10 minutes on a prank call because he thought it was one of his major backers. The call gives Wisconsin voters and workers an excellent insight into the extent of Walker's adherence to his union-busting plan. It was so appropriate that he ended the conversation with his fake benefactor by saying, "Thanks a million."

Posted by: robinohunter | March 7, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

robinohunter, unfortunately for your meme, Gov. Walker actually ended the call with "Bye."

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/02/10103/full-transcript-walker-koch-call

Posted by: clawrence12 | March 7, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Gladnto hear Kasich isn't much if any smarter than Walker. Better chances fir Dems in 2012. And I recall the Oho GOP has done this before a couple of times with little success.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 7, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Kasich and the republican legislature put every republicanwant they could in that one bill. Ohio shot down Right to Eork a couple times in the sixties, kasich is trying to get it back. So he goes after the unions he can attack directly. But he also got some idiotic language about abortion, and other non germane items all wrapped up in a bill that might run into Constitutional objections. But it was get this done early and hope that Ohio forgets all about it in just under two years.

Of course John has other promises to try to fulfill, and they are going to really PO a lot of the state, especially his cutting big chunks out of education, while declaring that local political entities can't make up their deficits at the ballot box with tax increases.

Columbus just raised some taxes, and other jurisdictions that usually won't even ask are asking now. When every school district sees its state finds dwindle, many are likely to go the additional milage route and many will get that additional milage.

And they will not forgive Kasich for doing it.

Meanwhile, the State of Ohio is STILL in contempt of court for not fixing its educational system, but Kasich undid Stricklands attempt to do something about it.

So back to court showing Kasich's bad faith and see what happens.

MIA: Can the feds step in under circumstances where a state refuses to follow its own constitution?

Posted by: ceflynline | March 7, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Now THIS is GANGSTER GOVERNMENT.

Walker should be prosecuted under RICO.

He is a corrupt crook, conspiring with ANOTHER corrupt crook, to BREAK THE LAW.

Typical rape-publican.

Posted by: solsticebelle | March 8, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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