Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chaos On Bulls**t Molehill

Governor Scott Walker insisted for the longest time that he had zero tolerance for government employees doing campaign work while on the job, before the court-ordered release of more than 27,000 emails proved that claim false. The governor also repeatedly said he had no idea there was a secret email system in his county executive's office, until the emails showed he was prevaricating about that too.

Just the other day Walker said there is no secret email system in the governor's office like the one he had in Milwaukee County. Veteran journalist Bruce Murphy quickly cast doubt on that claim. Murphy has a source who was a close observer of the governor’s staff in the Capitol and who attended numerous meetings with them. The source told Murphy there was a system that sure looked like it was designed to enable staff to do political work on government time and evade public disclosure of such campaigning by using personal laptops and gmail accounts.

Now the governor's just refusing to answer any more questions. All of this is old news, he says.

To the national pundits and talking heads in D.C., all of this is definitely news but none of it is apparently sexy enough. In a time when they've grown so used to encountering what Jon Stewart calls "Bullshit Mountain" on the other side of the Potomac, apparently they are having a hard time seeing this whole Walker affair as anything more than a Bullshit Molehill.

It's this kind of thing that prompted the late politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan to coin the phrase "defining deviancy down" to describe the tendency of societies to respond to destructive behaviors by lowering standards for what is permissible.

Not only are ethical standards in Wisconsin politics going the way of temperatures in the polar vortex, but now deviancy is in the eye of the beholder. Mountain or molehill, sexy or not, all those emails inspired the Beloit Daily News to observe "here’s how partisans view these things. If the guy on the other side does something like this, it’s a raging scandal and the rascal should be drummed out of office. But if the guy at the center of the mess is your guy, then your guy is a blameless victim of biased media and the evil opposition."

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Walker Accepted Bulk Of Individual Campaign Cash From Big Donors

Republican Governor Scott Walker accepted more than half of his $8.38 million in individual contributions in 2013 from well-heeled donors who gave $1,000 or more, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

The Democracy Campaign reviewed Walker’s 2013 contributions after his campaign boasted that 75 percent of the contributions were from donors who gave $50 or less. The Walker campaign’s claim and countless others like it by candidates over the years is often made to argue a candidate has strong grassroots support from average voters. But those claims skirt the more important question about where candidates get most of their money – big donors or small donors.

Here’s what the numbers from Walker’s campaign finance reports for 2013 revealed:

 The governor received $4.3 million from contributions of $1,000 or more – that’s 51 percent of his $8.38 million in total individual campaign contributions. And many of those $1,000-plus contributions – about $2.4 million – came from contributors outside Wisconsin;

 The governor accepted $2.6 million in contributions of $5,000 or more. That’s 31 percent of Walker’s total individual contributions, and most of that money – about $1.7 million – came from outside Wisconsin.

All told, the governor’s total haul from outside Wisconsin was about $4.4 million, or 54 percent of his total individual contributions in 2013. Walker’s out-of-state fundraising dipped a bit from the margin during his 2012 recall election when roughly two-thirds of the $37 million he raised came from outside Wisconsin. The decline in out-of-state contributions was because state fundraising rules during his recall allowed Walker to accept unlimited contributions from individuals, rather than the normal $10,000 per person.

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke received $866,931 in individual contributions of $1,000 or more – about 68 percent of her $1.27 million in total individual contributions excluding her $429,730 self-contribution. Burke accepted $578,850 in contributions of $5,000 or more – about 46 percent of her individual donations, minus her self-contribution.

Burke’s campaign finance report also showed she received the bulk of her donations in 2013 from Wisconsin contributors. About $1.09 million, or 86 percent of her individual contributions, came from Wisconsin contributors and $180,274 came from out-of-state donors. She received $124,000 in out-of-state individual contributions of $1,000 or more – about 10 percent of the $1.27 million in individual contributions, and $105,000 in contributions of $5,000 or more – about 8 percent of her individual donations.