Recall Tales for my grandchildren: the Walkergate scandal

Dear, dear. Scandals, scandals. Criminal defense fund, that’s where we left off. Well, Scottie soon-to-be-former Governor Walker seemed to see himself as above the ordinary folk and even above the law. If he didn’t like a law, he’d change it or (worse) ignore it. 

I’ve known leaders who recognized their weaknesses and surrounded themselves with people who could fill in the gaps in their experience and knowledge. Smart leaders surround themselves with even smarter staff whenever possible. That is, smart and secure leaders surround themselves with good people. 

Insecure leaders, on the other hand, surround themselves with lackeys and staffers who will bow down and do their bidding without ever questioning their decisions – even the poor decisions. Those leaders might employ staff who will follow orders, even if those orders break the law. Toward the end of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, the big questions were “What did President Nixon know, and when did he know it?” What? You don’t know much about Watergate? I suggested the book All the President’s Men before my nap. If you don’t want to read it, get the movie. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, be still my heart … but anyway, you wanted to know about the recall season of 2012. 

Walker’s previous office had been Milwaukee County Executive. His staff from that position, let’s just say, weren’t the admirable and trustworthy type. After Scottie moved into the governor’s mansion, law enforcement revealed that the County Executive’s office was riddled with scandal. Remember when I told you how teachers had to behave themselves on the job and keep their political actions clearly separate from their professional responsibilities? Elected officials have to be careful not to use time on the job as time campaigning. They can’t use materials, staff, or equipment from their jobs to further their election or re-election in any way. There’s a clear line between working and campaigning. 

Well, children, gather ’round and you shall hear of the wild ride of… never mind. That’s a different piece of literature. The Governor (that’s with an -or, dears) watched from his Madison mansion as the investigators moved into serious investigations of County Executive Walker’s staff. Five close aides were charged with fifteen felonies. The FBI raided the home of one of his top staffers. Allegedly, illegal campaigning took place within steps of the County Exec’s desk. The next piece of news was even more incriminating: the governor himself established a criminal defense fund and hired criminal defense lawyers. 

Kiddos, you might be thinking he was just acting as a precaution. That kind of precaution, however, was not legal. A sitting governor could only establish a criminal defense fund if he or she were charged with or about to be charged with a felony. Even then, they could not use a penny of state money to pay for the attorneys.  Walker had been compared to Richard Nixon in his attitude and demeanor, and now a group called One Wisconsin Now was running a website they called Walkergate Files.

What’s that? President Nixon – the president in All the President’s Men. Get the movie or the book, kids. You need the background. Then, and only then, will I share with you the rest of the story. 

Readers, you already know about Watergate and Nixon. You can find out more about Walker’s criminal allegations by visiting One Wisconsin Now’s website devoted to the Walkergate Files. Just click below.

One Wisconsin Now


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