Walker and WisGOP sent out their first ad trying to knock down Burke and Trek a week ago, and the ad was immediately refuted by Burke's brother John, who's Trek's CEO. Not only did John Burke respond to Walker's claim, but he pointed out that Trek currently employs around 1,000 Wisconsinites, and locates in other countries largely to sell bikes in other countries.
"When people make blatantly false accusations about a company you've spent your lifetime building and you have 1,800 employees who are proud about what they do every day, that just isn't right," John Burke said.Walker, being a 21st Century Republican, decided to continue running the ad despite the dishonesty. It was also remarkable to see Walker criticize Trek, as the Walker-created Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation featured John Burke and Trek as a great example of a Wisconsin job creator in a WEDC promotional video in 2012 (well after any outsourcing had happened). Wonder what changed, other than Mary Burke's entrance into the Governor's race?
Trek was founded in Waterloo in the 1970s by John and Mary Burke's father and is now the second-largest bike manufacturer worldwide. Mary Burke worked as an executive at Trek twice, leaving the company in 2004.
John Burke said all decisions about where to locate jobs were his and not his sister's. Mary Burke worked for Trek as the head of its European division from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1995 until 2004, with her most recent job being director of planning and strategic planning.
John Burke said Trek does not employ children at its overseas plants. He said Trek has manufacturing plants in China, Germany and Holland and they all strictly follow local labor laws.
It's also worth noting that Walker's ads came just days after a report from WKOW Channel 27 showed 2 companies that had received WEDC tax credits for alleged expansion not only failed to create new jobs, but later outsourced the original Wisconsin jobs. And oh yeah, both of those companies had personnel that had donated to the Walker campaign. Which made Walker's ads seem like a classic misdirection play by a struggling campaign to get the topic off of their "dead last in the Midwest for jobs" standing.
And it's not like Walker and his personally-hired CEO of WEDC have a problem with the concept of outsourcing. On the same day John Burke gave his first reply to the ad, WEDC CEO Reed Hall told Madison's WKOW that outsourcing was a fact of life for many corporations these days.
"We are in a global marketplace and some companies, to be successful financially, need to outsource," said Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO Reed Hall.Walker is now left to spin like a madman to claim the anti-Trek ads aren't related to his beliefs about outsourcing, resulting in word salads that would make Sarah Palin seem coherent.
Hall was responding to questions about a 27 News story from last week, which showed at least two companies that received tax credits from WEDC later outsourced Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries.
A 27 News investigation uncovered that both the Eaton Corporation and Plexus Corporation received financial awards from WEDC, only to later lay off workers whose jobs were taken by employees at the companies' foreign facilities.
"I'm sorry that they temporarily had to outsource some jobs, but I think ultimately over the long-term its gonna be a great win for Wisconsin with both these companies," said Hall.
Guess it's a lot easier on right-wing radio when you can just throw garbage against the wall and not have to explain it and compare it to your record, eh Scotty? This song keeps coming to mind when I think about Walker's act.
John Burke also put his criticism of Walker's anti-Trek ads in print, buying up space in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and other state newspapers on Sunday to give a page-long defense of his company and the philanthropy they take part in. So how did WisGOP respond? By crying like pathetic bitches and filing a complaint with the state's General Accountability Board, claiming John Burke's ad should be treated as an in-kind contribution to his sister's campaign. This is despite the fact that Mary Burke or the Democratic Party aren't even mentioned once in Burke's printed ad, which makes WisGOP's complaint extremely whiny and lame, but that isn't even the best part about why WisGOP's GAB complaint is such a bad move.
No, the REAL FAIL in WisGOP's move is because they've just admitted that the John Doe coordination case against Governor Walker is 100% legitimate. Brandon Fischer at PR Watch points out the insane WisGOP hypocrisy in an excellent article today.
Even if the Trek ad were considered a political expenditure -- rather than a business owner trying to defend his company's reputation -- nothing is stopping Trek from running it independently of the Burke campaign. The U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United struck down laws barring corporations from making independent political expenditures.Talk about your "D'OH!" moves! WisGOP has now completely undermined Walker and his fellow right-wing oligarchs, by not only admitting that coordination between organizations and candidates should be considered campaign contributions, but also by expanding the definition of "coordination" to include a family member running an ad that doesn't encourage voting for a certain candidate- or even mentioning the election or the candidate that's allegedly being helped!
"The only way the ad is possibly problematic is if there is coordination" between the campaign and Trek about the ad, [Wisconsin Common Cause Executive Director Jay] Heck said.
Ads coordinated with a candidate can be regarded as in-kind contributions to the campaign, regardless of whether they expressly tell viewers how to vote. The existence of coordination is an indication that an ad is of value to a campaign, and therefore should be treated as an in-kind campaign contribution, subject to contribution limits and disclosure requirements.
This legal theory -- which has now been endorsed by the Wisconsin Republican Party -- is the basis of the John Doe criminal probe. Prosecutors allege that the Walker campaign was at the center of a "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate with Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and other independent groups on millions of dollars of ads during the recall elections. What made the alleged conduct “criminal” is the Walker campaign and others misleading Wisconsin voters by knowingly filing campaign finance reports that omitted millions of dollars of in-kind contributions.
These absurd, desperate arguments would be embarrassing to Scott Walker and WisGOP, if I believed that these ridiculous lowlifes could feel shame (and I could give you a lot more examples of this silliness, but this article is long enough). But then again, they can't get enough people to actually want to vote FOR them, despite the huge amount of right-wing propaganda that is fed to Wisconsinites every day on the AM radio dials and in the pages of their daily newspapers. So with that in mind, all they can do is go negative and try to keep the majority of Wisconsinites of going to the polls to cast the ballot for Burke.
And in reality, THAT'S what this recent Walker/WisGOP strategy is all about- making the electorate turned off and cyncial, which allows just enough votes from hard-right, angry white guys to carry them to a 51-49 victory. Then the righties can claim a "mandate" that they can steamroll over the other 75% of Wisconsinites that didn't vote for them (the 24% who voted for Burke, and the 51% who didn't vote at all).
Or we can say "Enough!", and kick these adolescent fools to the curb this November. Seems like a better idea to me.