At a press conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) fired back at state Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D), the leader of the 14 Democrats who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on Walker’s anti-public employee union proposals, who this morning sent Walker a letter calling for a meeting at the Illinois state line. And in his attacks on Miller, Walker suggested - with no apparent irony - that perhaps Miller has been having secret phone calls with special interest backers in organized labor.
Readers will recall Walker’s own phone call two weeks ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch. During that call, Walker discussed his ideas about tricking the Dems into coming back, his passion for busting the public employee unions in the mold of President Reagan firing the air traffic controllers, and other fun business. On Monday morning, state Dems announced that they were filing an ethics complaints against Walker, regarding things discussed on the call.
Walker started off by blasting Miller’s letter and his handling of this whole situation. “We need to walk through why this letter is so ridiculous. And I think it’s important,” said Walker. “Because for the last several weeks, Sen. Fitzgerald [state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald] and my administration have been reaching out to reasonable senators, many of whom are interested and willing to come back to the state of Wisconsin. And time and time again, the person standing in the way of making that happen is Sen. Mark Miller.”
Walker said that Fitzgerald and members of his administration had met repeatedly with a pair of Democratic senators, Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch, plus Miller himself at one meeting. Walker spoke of meetings taking place at the McDonald’s in Kenosha — right near the Illinois state line — and even a meeting on the other side of the line in South Beloit, Illinois. And every time, Walker said, Miller would stand in the way of the Democrats coming back to Wisconsin.
Furthermore, Walker wielded Sunday night’s report from the Wall Street Journal, which reported Miller as saying the Dems would come back — and which Miller and the Dems quickly distanced themselves from — as evidence that Miller had misled people.
“And now I think the public has finally seen in the last 24 hours, firsthand, the frustration that we have felt for days, in the sense that they were misled by the statements that Sen. Miller made last night to a national media outlet, when he said that the Senate was gonna come back. And now today is reversing course on that. I think that’s indicative of the fact that now Sen. Miller is misleading the public, just like he misled us, and just like apparently he seems to be misleading many members of his own caucus.”
On multiple occasions, Walker said that Miller was in effect following the word of labor union leaders — and he imagined that there might have been some sort of secret phone calls.
Later in the conference, Walker said that Miller “appears to be listening more to the labor union bosses in Washington than he does to members of his own caucus.” He again maintained that Miller had told the Wall Street Journal that he would come home, “and then after he got the phone call from labor unions in Washington or whatever it was,” had changed his tune.
Walker also later said: “I’m not sure, I can only speculate. But I have to assume that some of those labor leaders who have invested millions and millions into this state got on the phone with Sen. Miller and told him, you cannot budge.”
(Thanks to NBC 15 in Madison, for hosting a live video stream.)