Sunday, July 27, 2014

In 2010 Walker "put politics over taxpayers" -- a lesson in GOP hypocrisy

Walker skipped town to campaign when constituents needed him most after floodings

The Republican Party of Wisconsin released an online ad last week that derided Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke for missing a Madison Metropolitan School Board meeting.

There was just one tiny problem with the ad: Burke didn’t miss a thing. She had been campaigning in Milwaukee as the ad pointed out, but she had also teleconferenced into the meeting, taking part in it as an active participant.

The Republican Party, being presented with this information, stood by their assertions of Burke’s misdeeds.

“Give me a break,” state Party Chairman Joe Fadness told the Wisconsin State Journal in an email conversation. “The video and accompanying press release accurately depict that Burke chose to attend a campaign event over attending the official meeting in person.”

It appears that for Republicans it doesn’t matter whether Burke took part in the event or not: in their minds she is obligated to serve her constituents in person. One might wonder how the GOP would react if their own candidate, Gov. Scott Walker, had chosen to campaign over committing himself to his constituents.

But we don’t have to wonder: Walker did a similar thing in 2010 during his campaign for governor then, and in some ways he may have done something even more deplorable: he abandoned his constituents when they needed him most.

That summer Milwaukee County had experienced devastating floods. They were so bad that Walker, then the County Executive, declared the county a disaster area, forwarding the request to then-Gov. Jim Doyle.

But that weekend Walker took off from Milwaukee County in order to campaign in Eau Claire, Wausau, Green Bay and Pulaski. His Democratic opponent in the election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, stayed in the area and canceled his own campaign plans in order to tour areas that were hit the hardest.

In short, Barrett took responsibility for ensuring people in Walker’s jurisdiction were safe. Walker, to borrow a phrase from his own party this past week, “put politics over taxpayers.”

The Walker campaign, of course, had the perfect excuse for his 2010 absence: he was able to do the work he needed to do while campaigning.
The Milwaukee County executive said he never thought about canceling his weekend appearances because of his work on Friday. He said he stayed in contact with his chief of staff, Thomas G. Nardelli, his parks director, Sue Black, and the airport director, Barry Bateman.

On Saturday, he also issued an update on storm damage. Walker also updated reporters Monday morning with a press conference.
So let’s recap:

In 2010 Milwaukee County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker was perfectly capable of monitoring, while campaigning across the state, what he himself had called a “disaster” situation in his home county. To Walker and his surrogates, that was perfectly acceptable.

In 2014 Democratic candidate Mary Burke used teleconferencing technology to take part in a scheduled Madison School Board meeting while on the campaign trail. Though she didn’t miss any part of the meeting, and there wasn’t any emergency situation in the district, this to the Republican Party was deplorable enough to make a campaign video about.

The hypocrisy of the Republican Party of Wisconsin is very, very telling this election year.