Monday, November 2, 2015

Disturbing pattern of secrecy, deception in the Walker Administration

Another day, another report showing that the Scott Walker Administration refuses to come clean with the public. This time, it’s a front-page article from the Wisconsin State Journal’s Matt DeFour, which shows that Walker’s re-election campaign refused to let the public know key information about thousands of its donors.
In 2014, Walker’s campaign didn’t report employer information for 5,906 out of the 21,801 contributors (27 percent) who gave more than $100, according to the GAB audit conducted in June.

The Walker campaign was one of 29 committees that received a GAB warning notice in June because more than 10 percent of donors of more than $100 didn’t have an employer listed….

Of the roughly 1,500 committees required to submit reports, 188 had missing employer information for at least one donor who gave more than $100.
And no, the whiny WisGOPs don’t get to play the “both sides do it” game, because Walker was more than TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to not have employer info for his donors compared to his opponent.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s campaign had the second-highest number of donors with missing employer information last year with 217, or 2.6 percent of donors who gave more than $100. But it did not receive a warning notice because it did not meet the 10 percent threshold, [GAB Ethics Divison Specialist Kyle] Kundert said.
So what happened to Scott Walker’s campaign for failing to note this information as required by law? The GAB simply trusted that the campaign was making a “good-faith effort” to track this information down and correct it, and didn’t assess any penalties. Yes, the same GAB that the GOP Bubble-world is claiming has to be deformed because it is so biased against Scott Walker didn’t even make Walker’s campaign have to pay for the time and effort the GAB had to take on in order to find these violations and document that they were cleaned up.

And this is not the first time that the Walker campaign team has failed to include this information on a wide-ranging scale, as DeFour notes that when Walker was recalled and faced removal in a 2012 election, over 1/4 of Scotty's $100+ donors lacked sufficient info on where they worked. By comparison, opponent Tom Barrett only lacked it on 4.6% of his $100+ donors. So it’s amazing that Walker would be a repeat offender in the 2014 elections, unless they were trying to sneak this information past the GAB and the eyes of the public.

Naturally, the GOP’s reaction to this issue is not to put teeth into penalties for this kind of negligence (if not outright concealment) of who’s paying a candidate’s bills. Instead, they want to ban the mention of a donor’s place of employment entirely! Now gee, why would the party that gave us the unaccountable slush fund known as WEDC, who has given more than half of its taxpayer-funded handouts to Walker donors, want to hide employer information from the public? I just can’t put my finger on it….

This type of concealment from the public has become par for the course for Walker and WisGOP. After refusing to respond to an open records request by One Wisconsin Now to see who visited the Governor’s Mansion between his re-election in November 2014 and April 2015 (a time that Walker was lining up support and staff for his presidential run, and introducing the state budget), Walker’s Administration claimed that they didn’t have these records any more, and didn’t have to release them if they “found” them later.

This excuse of “we don’t have the records” is completely implausible, as this is the same administration that was making taxpayers paying millions for extra security for Walker and his family at the same time, claiming it was needed for safety. But now they’re not tracking who was at the Executive Mansion and where Walker was at the time? BULLSHIT. This withholding of info on who was going to the Governor’s Mansion is directly related to the same reasons that the GOP doesn’t want it known who their donors work for- they’re scared of people’s reaction when they follow the money and connect it to influence on policy.

The Walker Administration seems to be hiding everyday reports from the public as well. We still have yet to see revenue figures from the First Quarter of the 2016 Fiscal Year, despite the fact that it ended over month ago, and 1Q numbers were released in the middle of October each of the last 3 years. The Walker DOA has also refused to release the September 2015 Monthly Statement of Receipts and Disbursements, despite it being more than 3 weeks past the release date of this typical report. A cynical mind might think that the revenue figures are awful for this session, but the Walker/WisGOP group doesn’t want that news to get out, and make an already unpopular budget lead to more anger with the public.

But what do you expect from the same party and Governor who tried a sneak attack on the state’s open records law, just voted to exempt politicians from John Doe investigations, and wants to allow politicians to work with individuals who launder money to dark-money electioneering groups, without revealing the donors to such groups. WisGOP has total contempt for the Wisconsinites that pay their salaries, and they don’t believe the people have a right to know what’s going on as they receive their taxpayer-funded salaries.

It is disgusting, imperial arrogance, and something I have a hard time believing anyone would think it's a good thing for the state other than a few members of the
"inner circle." In fact, this corrupt secrecy is not just a bad thing morally, but likely economically as well, as this type of cronyism is a hallmark of 3rd-world Banana Republics and backwards Confederate states. It is not the winning formula for growing, civilized places that attract talent and growth.

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