Wisconsin Democrats are continuing their fire on Gov. Scott Walker’s infamous phone call with blogger Ian Murphy, who was posing as Republican financier David Koch, in which Walker spoke of his passion for busting the public employee unions. And in their latest move, the Dems have announced that they are filing an ethics complaint with the state’s Government Accountability Board — accusing Walker of serious violations of the law.
“It [the call] showed Scott Walker as a grandiose plotter who thinks of himself as a national figure in the effort to distort the balance of power between working people and big corporations who seek to transform Wisconsin into a low-wage, low-benefits backwater,” state Dem chairman Mike Tate said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. “But I’ll leave it to you to discuss the political damage it has done to Walker and his corporate masters.
“What we are here to discuss is the fact that in his phone call, Scott Walker clearly violated campaign finance and ethics laws meant precisely to prevent the kind of shameful activity in which Walker was engaged.”
The complaint — which was also posted earlier by Greg Sargent — alleges that several violations of the law occurred on the call: That Walker attempted to coordinate third-party campaign spending, when he told “Koch” that there would need to be messaging in support of Republicans in tough districts; That he illegally used state facilities, the phone in his office, to commit said coordination; That he conspired to incite disorderly conduct when he said he had considered planting troublemakers among the protesters; That he misused the Attorney General’s office in seeking advice on ways to trick the Democrats to come back; That he violated labor laws by saying he would use threats of layoffs of state workers in an effort to pass the bill; And that he accepted a trip to California when offered by “Koch.”
As noted in the complaint, and as Tate pointed out on the call, these various alleged offenses are punishable by large fines and even years in prison.
(For the record, Walker has previously brushed off one particular accusation about the call, relating to planting “troublemakers”: “When he talked about inciting things and ‘crushing the bastards,’ we get ideas from people all across the state. And we want to have a civil discussion about this and a debate about this, and the fact that we discussed this, and we said it wasn’t a good idea.”)
One reporter asked Tate whether Walker’s alleged acceptance of a trip to California — as the transcript shows, Walker simply told “Koch,” “All right, that would be outstanding” — could simply be brushed off as a “flip” remark.
“Look I don’t think there’s any reason — the governor of Wisconsin taking a phone call on public time in his office on a public telephone, I don’t we should regard anything as flip.”
Tate also added: “If you watch To Catch A Predator, it’s not really a 13 year old boy in the house, but the law is violated all the same.”
During the Q&A, TPM asked Tate what he would say to someone who would criticize the complaint as having no realistic chance of being pursued — that is, it would be viewed as simply a political document attacking the governor.
“I would just dismiss that out of hand,” Tate responded. “We’re talking about a governor that talked about sowing disorder and violence in a very peaceful crowd. We’re talking about a governor that talked about illegally using the attorney general’s office. We’re talking about a governor that talked about illegal labor practices. We’re talking about a governor that talked about illegal campaign practices.”