Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gov. Walker Transfers $100,000 More into Criminal Defense Fund

According to campaign finance reports released Tuesday night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker transferred an additional $100,000 to his criminal defense fund.


Milwaukee Co. District Attorney John Chisholm is conducting a John Doe investigation into illegal activities by Walker's aides while Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. So far the investigation has led to the filing of criminal charges against three of Walker's county aides, one former appointee and a major campaign contributor. 

  • On April 13, Walker transferred $60,000 from his campaign war chest to his criminal defense fund.
  • On May 3, Walker transferred $70,000 more.
  • On May 17, Walker transferred $30,000 more.

Walker is the only standing Governor in the United States with a legal defense fund.

Why does he need a $160,000 defense fund? 

Walker has hired criminal defense lawyers, including former US Attorney Steven Biskupic. 

Walker says he is not under investigation, but according to state regulations state officeholders may set up legal defense funds only if they or an agent of their campaign have been charged with or are under investigation for election or campaign violations.


State law requires that Walker get permission from his campaign contributors to move their money to his criminal legal defense fund. Walker has refused repeated requests to make public which of his rich donors have agreed to fund his defense fund. He has a lot of rich patrons to ask.

According to Walker's campaign finance report Christy Walton, a Walmart heiress active in the school voucher movement, gave Walker $50,000, the report shows. Forbes lists Walton as the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $25.3 billion. Perhaps he asked her.


Why doesn't Walker come clean? Why doesn't he release the secret emails? Why doesn't tell the public who is financing his legal defense fund?

What can you do?

Vote June 5. Make history.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Endorses Wrong Candidate

Few people were surprised with the May 20 endorsement of Gov. Scott Walker by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Many people, however, were upset and know it's not in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin.

I encourage you to read the following statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate:

"It saddens, but does not surprise, that the state's largest newspaper would continue to support the most divisive, and possibly most corrupt, governor in Wisconsin history.

"The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has supported Scott Walker in its editorial and news pages for years, has seriously underplayed the scandals of his various administrations, has treated the historic recall movement with small-minded contempt and will, therefore be judged harshly if remembered at all, in Wisconsin's history.

"One need only read the Milwaukee Sentinel editorials AGAINST the Civil Rights Movement and FOR Joe McCarthy to remember how silly and reactionary a news organization can look in the hindsight of the ages.

"And so it will be with Scott Walker, who has been treated with the embarrassing kindnesses of the Journal Communications empire, which props up the Walker agenda with a daily and unrelenting stream of propaganda via right-wing extremists Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner.

"But it is not merely the editorial support that is so troubling.

"Scott Walker not only owns the back editorial pages of the paper — he also owns the front pages of the paper with what is is supposed to remain a neutral forum for actual news. In this case, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has practiced repeated journalistic lapses, underplaying the shocking criminal corruption scandal in Walker's midst, downplaying the enormity of the division and dishonesty emanating from this administration and hyping up and adopting a shocking re-engineering of the truth by Walker on everything from jobs numbers to government transparency.

"This endorsement is also troubling given that it is a blatant about-face to their previous editorial policy of not endorsing in recall elections, having not endorsed in any of the recall elections of last summer.

"In the end, time will tell whether the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's snide and small support for Scott Walker and against the average citizens of Wisconsin will make the difference on June 5th. But by turning such a blind eye to facts in the service of an ideology so extreme and an administration so corrupt, the paper has made yet another backward stand against history."

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Also check out how a conservative Milwaukee group has brazenly attacked teachers in Janesville, WI, especially those who signed the Recall Walker petition. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bullies, Lies, and Videotape

A quarter century ago, director Steven Soderburgh coupled innovative film-making with a great title: Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

Now, in an era where Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has become the poster boy of a mean-spirited Republican agenda across the country, we have what I call Bullies, Lies and Videotape.

First for the videotape.

In a videotape released on May 10, but filmed 16 months earlier shortly after Gov Scott Walker took office, a Wisconsin billionaire asked Walker what he would do to help make Wisconsin “a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work?”

Walker’s response? He says that he has planned a “divide and conquer” anti-union strategy with a “first step” of denying collective bargaining right to public sector works. (Wisconsinites are now well aware of the videotape, but unfortunately it failed to make national news. Make sure to check below for more details on this video.)

Second, for the lie.

For the last 18 months, Walker has claimed that while campaigning for governor he made clear his anti-union agenda. It is now common knowledge that the claim is false. Or, as some might say, Walker is lying. He never told Wisconsin voters that if elected he would gut collective bargaining for public workers.

Third, for the bullies.

Here we have not only Walker but the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

According to Webster’s dictionary a bully is “a person who hurt, frightens, or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker.”

Put together Walker’s anti-union Act 10, his budget cuts of social services and public education, his corporate tax breaks and his unprecedented out-of-state fundraising from the likes of the Koch brothers and other billionaires, and the “bully” definition is more than apt. (Not to be forgotten, Walker’s threat when he first announced his attack on collective bargaining that he was prepared to call out the National Guard.)

While Walker’s true colors were being exposed by videotape, a report in the Washington Post revealed that Mitt Romney bullied a classmate 50 years ago while at Michigan's prestigious Cranbrook prep school.

Romney targeted a new student with long dyed blond hair presumed to be gay. Leading a group of bullies, he chased the boy, tackled him and while others pinned the blond-haired boy down, Romney forcibly cut his hair with scissors while the student cried and screamed for help.

Five of Romney’s classmates involved in the bullying matured enough to be remorseful, and they told their story to the Washington Post. One of the former bullies called their youthful attack “bullying supreme” and told ABC News: ‘It's a haunting memory, when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye, you never forget it.’”

In an interview on Fox Radio, Romney laughed when asked about the incident. He said he didn’t remember it.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins was one of many commentators who expressed disbelief at Romney’s selective memory, and concluded that Romney “is lying through his teeth.”

Bullies who lie, whether Mitt Romney or Scott Walker, should not be in positions of political leadership. Wisconsin voters will have the chance to throw Walker out of office on June 5. Nationwide, voters will have the chance to thwart Romney’s ambitions on November 6.
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Now, some details on that Walker videotape.

The clip, filmed in January 2011, shows Walker confiding to a billionaire donor about his strategy to attack unions. He kept that plan secret for nearly a month before he announced his “budget repair bill” to eliminate collective bargaining rights for all public sector workers (except the police and firefighter unions that had endorsed him for governor the previous year). His anti-collective bargaining plan spurred the largest workers’ protest in Wisconsin’s history.  

Walker’s comments were in response to billionaire Diane Hendricks asking him if he can help make Wisconsin into “a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right-to-work?” Walker interrupted her saying, “Oh yeah” and then explained his “divide and conquer strategy.”

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill.” Walker explained. “The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer,” he told Hendricks, who according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has “given $510,000 to the governor’s campaign – making her Walker’s single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.”

The video clip is part of a movie trailer for a documentary “As Goes Janesville” that will premiere this summer. The movie, by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, depicts the devastating impact of the closing of a massive General Motors plant on a small industrial city in southern Wisconsin.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Honor Teachers, Help Recall Gov. Walker

In 1984 the National PTA designated the first week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week.

A quarter of a century later, voters in Wisconsin will have the chance to help that week actually mean something.

This Tuesday, May 8, voters will decide who will run against Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, the poster child of the conservatives’ anti-teacher agenda.

On June 5, voters will have a chance to expel Walker.

According to the National PTA the appreciation week is a “special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children.”

In the past year, Walker has dishonored both teachers and their students.

Walker enacted the largest cuts to public education in the history of the state – nearly $1 billion  – harming hundreds of thousands of children and students.

Walker wrote a blank check for the expansion of the private school voucher program.  In the current 2011-12 school year Wisconsin taxpayers are spending an additional $14.2 million on the expansion of the Milwaukee voucher program, for a total of more than $150 million in that school year.

This contrasts sharply to the cut of approximately $84 million of state aid to the Milwaukee Public Schools during the same school year. That cut led to mushrooming class sizes and the virtual elimination of physical education, art, and music teachers and librarians in MPS elementary and K-8 schools.

Walker’s signature legislation, Act 10, essentially banned collective bargaining by public workers, including teachers and other school staff. This dishonors teachers and our professional as collective bargaining is a basic civil and human right guaranteed by the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights.

Most recently Walker ordered the Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission to adopt a rule that the base-salary upon which any future possible raises can be calculated (or bargained) must exclude any compensation for educational attainment, credits or degrees. Act 10 and this new rule, reconfirm that Walker’s intentions were to strip ALL collective bargaining rights from teacher unions.

Walker also pushed through legislation that ties teacher evaluation to test scores. He summed up his intentions during a recent visit by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Walker said, “We can now hire and fire based on merit. We can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms, and we can keep them there.” (Education historian Diane Ravitch has resoundly debunked the myth about merit pay.)

Teachers in Wisconsin are wearing red on Monday to show solidarity with all who wish to Reclaim Wisconsin.

On Tuesday we are voting in the Democratic Primary.

On June 5, we will cast our ballot in the recall election.

We invite anyone from out of state to donate money or volunteer before the June 5 Walker Recall election.

For more details on that, contact: We Are Wisconsin
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 Also check out Charles Blow’s wonderful New York Times column “Teaching Me About Teaching."