Thursday, February 20, 2014


I've been very late to this Scott Walker thing, so I'm trying to catch up, and what surprises me is that you can actually go to jail in Wisconsin for mingling campaign and government business in a government office -- I mean, obviously I know it's illegal, but I assumed nobody in America ever got more than a wrist-slap for it:
Even as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin looks ahead to 2016 and a possible presidential bid, his political past as Milwaukee County executive has come back to haunt him.

A release of 27,000 emails and hundreds of court documents on Wednesday portrays Mr. Walker, a Republican, as having presided over an office where aides used personal computers and email to conceal that they were mixing government and campaign business. The conduct of campaign work on government time led to the criminal convictions of two aides and several others.
This is being compared to Chris Christie's Bridgegate, but if average Americans ever pay attention, I think they're to regard it as a big nothing -- politicians and staff work on campaigns during business hours? We're shocked, shocked! The same goes for the topic of the other ongoing Walker investigation, an effort to determine whether the campaign staff that enabled Walker to survive a recall election coordinated with independent groups. Ordinary Americans are going to assume that they all do that. This isn't like Bridgegate, in which real people actually suffered real consequences.

It's also not like Bridgegate because Bridgegate comes off as an expression of Chris Christie's personality, not to mention the zeitgeist of the Northeast. It seems like something The Daily Show's writers dreamed up so Jon Stewart could talk about it (and about Christie) in a dese-dems-and-dose accent. It's now infused into America's idea of Christie the Joisey tough guy. Whereas the relationship between the Walker scandals and Walker's personality is ... um, does he even have a personality? Outside Wisconsin, we have no idea. And the scandal itself has no sex, no rage, no Nixonian vindictiveness.

And yet it looks as if there could be actual legal consequences for Walker; also his scandal is breaking before a reelection campaign, not (as in Christie's case) after. So Walker may be in real trouble. (Trust me: Christie's gonna walk.)

But Christie will have a hard time living down Bridgegate even if the whole thing fizzles out. It's now a big part of who we think he is. By contrast, if they never pin anything on Walker, and he wins reelection anyway, it won't weigh him down if he runs for president. It's too generic -- it's what we assume all pols do.

Yes, staffers' racist email forwards give this story a bit of (unpleasant) personality. But they're not going to have a lasting impact -- unless we find Walker himself forwarding this stuff,


Danp said...

The analogy should be the Bush/Rove/GSA/US Attorney scandal process. They were well rewarded for destroying the computers.

Buford said...

Doesn't it look like there is a "pattern" emerging??? Why are the Koch backed puppets so corrupt??? Why is it so easy to buy out state governments??? How many more corrupt governors are there??? questions that need answers and won't get any...

Victor said...

Walker has all of the personality of a stoned and snoozing CPA.

And the base will love him, no matter what happens in this case.

He beat the evil Libtards - TWICE!!!

aimai said...

So far Wisconsing voters, white ones anyway, like what they see in Walker--in particular his anodyne, just business, goggle eyed homunculus (thank you charlie pierce!) persona plays well there. Sure--basic, low level, racism and corruption will have zero effect on the voters. But again--this may just be the tip of the iceberg. What you see in these emails is like the neophyte or larval stage of a later corruption that is more brazen and that may have larger criminal conspiracy style significance. I wouldn't count out this treasure trove of emails until they have been thoroughly gone over. These people were very arrogant and its highly likely that there's other stuff there.

Steve M. said...

But again--this may just be the tip of the iceberg. What you see in these emails is like the neophyte or larval stage of a later corruption that is more brazen and that may have larger criminal conspiracy style significance.

But everything has to happen fast these days, or we just get used to the guy at the center of the investigation still hanging around, because we're all ADHD like that. The slow Watergate-pace rollout is so 1974.

aimai said...

Yeah, I'm not worried about it. I don't think there is ever going to be a single smoking gun anymore--not since vitter survived the diaper scandal.

Postscript said...

I desperately hope that this sinks Walker - I have had the misfortune of having to deal with him as County Executive AND Governor, and he's just the worst sort of smarmy, judgmental bastard.

That being said, a whole heckuva lot of my fellow citizens in Wisconsin seem to have bought into his choir-boy persona lock-stock-and-barrel. I'm ashamed that hating the right sort of minorities and public sector employees remains such a reliable vote getter in this state. Fighting Bob LaFollette weeps.

Postscript said...

You can also understand Wisconsin politics as essentially the rest of the state vs. Milwaukee and Madison. Walker has built his career off of trashing Milwaukee (even as County Exec - he favored the suburbs at the expense of the metro area at every turn).

The rest of Wisconsin loves anything that sticks it to us in Milwaukee and Madison - they might even look at the content of these emails as proof that he's the right sort of person (or at least screws the right sort of people).

Superfluous Man said...

Plenty of pols, even a supreme court justice, went to jail for use of their office and/or staff for campaign purposes in Pennsylvania---most of them Dems except the judge and the house speaker because the AG was GOP. (That's what Corbett had dozens investigating while he had one cop looking at Sandusky.)

It's also illegal on the federal level. I don't know what other states' laws say, but PA is pretty loose on ethics.