With his first term coming to a close, and his 250,000 jobs promise out of reach and long cast aside, Scott Walker has failed to make good on another 2010 campaign promise to toughen reporting requirements for lobbyists and provide greater transparency in state contracts.
That’s according to the fact-checkers at PolitiFact Wisconsin, who yesterday rated Walker’s promise to “require lobbyists to report all attempts to influence state agency decisions regarding the awarding of state contracts and grants and provide real time disclosure of all contracts and grant awards” a Promise Broken on their Walk-O-Meter.
Four years ago today, then Gov.-elect Walker promised to “absolutely” run the most open, transparent gubernatorial administration “in the history of the universe,” yet his time in office has been rife with scandal, to include two criminal corruption probes into Walker’s current and former administrations, secrecy pledges signed by lawmakers, and allegations of bid-rigging and pay-to-play.
On everything from mining to unaccountable voucher schools to the United Sportsmen scandal, Walker’s lobbying pledge went nowhere while special interests enjoyed unprecedented access to Walker and his administration.
Gogebic Taconite (“GTac”), an out-of-state mining company, publicly asked for certainty and predictability in the mining permit process, but secretly requested massive and sweeping environmental changes, donating $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth for Scott Walker in exchange for access to the legislative process. By 2013, corporate mining interests had contributed more than $15.6 million to political candidates in Wisconsin, or $610 for every $1 donated by environmental interests. GTac ultimately had exclusive access to influence mining legislation, to include assistance from the Governor’s Office in drafting their own legislative proposals.
Advocates for unaccountable vouchers schools, funded by special interest billionaires and led by long-time Walker insider Scott Jensen, also benefited from access to Walker, with voucher schools on the receiving end of a staggering influx of taxpayer funds — an increase of approximately $124 million over Walker’s term even as public schools saw the largest cut in Wisconsin history, $800 million, in Walker’s first budget. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign estimates that school choice advocates have spent more than $10 million in state elections in the past 12 years.
And a group calling itself United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, a Tea Party group funded by the Koch brothers and headed by a Walker political insider, was almost the recipient of a $500,000 grant inserted by then-Rep. Scott Suder into the state budget for the purpose of promoting hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin. United Sportsmen was found to have no history of outdoors training; their record more closely mirrored a lobbying organization for Republican interests and several prominent board members were found to have donated to Republican candidates and causes. It was only after United Sportsmen falsified its application to the state and at a hearing before the Joint Finance Committee in stating that they had a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation did the Walker administration finally cancel the grant.
“While he panders to the far-right in his bid for president, Scott Walker can’t be bothered with keeping his promises to the people of Wisconsin or with showing even a whiff of concern for our traditions of good, clean government,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. “He isn’t running the most open gubernatorial administration in the history of the universe, like he promised four years ago, but Scott Walker might be running the most self-serving presidential campaign Wisconsin has ever seen.”