A quick interruption for some Breaking News
And, since I wrote this last night, news has just gotten so much worse. A Marquette University Poll says Walker is in some trouble:
Walker leads among registered voters 47.5% to 44.1%.Marin of Error is 4.1% for that poll.
But among likely voters, Burke leads 48.6% to 46.5%.
Among likely voters, Burkes lead has increased. This is now the third poll showing that this isn't going to be as easy a win for Walker as the 2010 or the 2012 recall.
Now, on to the rest...
As for the rest of Walkers bad week, it started with this moved on to this, then this and now we have the exposure of a big flip-flop that may be the result of a $700,000 donation to a dark money group.
Gov. Scott Walker says no one should be shocked that he was a driving force behind the proposed iron-ore mine in northern Wisconsin, whether his favorite political nonprofit received $700,000 from the mining company or not.John Doe II documents that were released late last revealed that Walker was all over the country talking to big money donors urging them to donate funds to the Wisconsin Club for Growth. That way, they could avoid disclosure as well as campaign donation limits that apply to funds donated directly to a campaign. In short, they could give massive amounts in complete secrecy.
Walker said the mine would bring much-needed jobs to Wisconsin.
But the first-term Republican governor has not always been so pro-mining.
In fact, he helped block a proposal to construct another major mine in northern Wisconsin years ago.
In 1998 — as a member of the Assembly — Walker voted in favor of a mining moratorium that put the brakes on a proposed copper and zinc mine near Crandon. The measure passed the Assembly on a 91-6 vote and was signed into law by Gov. Tommy Thompson.
The mine was never built.
Among the funds that flowed into the Wisconsin Club for Growth was $700,000 from a company trying to build a massive open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Soon after the 2012 recall and general elections, Walker and Republicans eased environmental regulations, helping the firm.(bolding is mine)
"The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth," said an April 28, 2011, email from Kate Doner, a Walker campaign consultant, to R.J. Johnson, an adviser to Walker's campaign and the advocacy group. "Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure."
In the email, Doner wrote to Johnson that Walker wanted Wisconsin Club for Growth exclusively to coordinate campaign themes. "As the Governor discussed ... he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging," she wrote.
Note how Walker referred to donations as "investments". That's exactly how he sees things. Donors "invest" in him and he is very well known for rewarding those investments. Investments in Scott Walker pay substantially better than anything on Wall Street.
Also note the friendly way this is serious revelation is presented by his pals in Wisconsin media, particularly referring to "easing environmental regulations" and no mention of the ram-through done to move the mining law right to the Governors desk. They didn't "ease" environmental regulations, they removed them. All done, of course, after the enormous donation.
It sure seems that $700,000 gets pretty prompt attention and very swift action.
Once caught, Walker immediately pulled out the Sgt. Schultz "I Know Nothing" routine again. That denial, as lame as it is when the chronology of the donation ---> legislative action is reviewed, was promoted by the media as Holy Gospel on the front page along with the usual attack on the John Doe Probe as a "witch hunt".
"Sgt. Schultz" Walker also claimed not to know there was a secret router just feet from his desk in the Milwaukee County Executives Office, didn't realize that his upper level staffers were using personal laptops and private email accounts (yeah, him, too) to avoid public archiving required by law, and were not only fundraising and campaigning on taxpayers time, but invading news blogs to promote Walker and attack his opponents.
He. Didn't. Know. Riiiight. That line's getting so old and worn out by now that it can apply for Social Security.
Some Republicans don't like the smell either.
Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), the only Republican senator who voted against the mining legislation, indicated he was not surprised by the donation. Schultz sought to craft a bipartisan mining bill with Jauch and Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville).The smell just got worse with his past position on mining coming to light (hidden, naturally, in the Journal Sentinels online blog).
"The fact that someone gave a donation in and of itself does not indicate solid evidence that there is pay-to- play," Schultz said. "But there just isn't any question that the quality of public policy making in Wisconsin has suffered since big money has come to this state."
He said it was "particularly disturbing" that the mining company sought to conceal its activities.
"They have obviously tried to channel their money in places where the public won't see it," Schultz said.
Since I was out sick for much of late last week and early this week, I though I'd share some things about the new document release.
You can see the released documents here (without a pdf download).
What I found particularly interesting in the documents:
[Id. at ¶ 69; Exhibit 67] A February 29, 2012, email from Scott Walker containing aScott Walker sending an email containing a script for an ad? Hmmmm. Micromanage much? Yes, he does. That's why when he claims ignorance of bad things happening around him, he is never to believed.
script. R.J. Johnson advised Governor Walker that they could talk about it at “Pro-video”
and “we’ll make it all work.”
[Id. at ¶ 77; Exhibit 74.2] Bank records indicate that Citizens for a Strong America (CFSA) was the recipient of at least $1.52 million dollars in 2012 from WiCFG. Mr. Stelter summarizes that “Jordahl and R.J. Johnson were involved with the activities of CFSA that functioned as a conduit for funded activities of other organizations in support of Governor Walker against the recall.”So, it seems that Wisconsin Club for Growth was using other groups as puppets to increase the public perception that Scott Walker was widely supported and popular among many groups when, in fact, the money and coordination were all done centrally. On Page 10 there's a note that the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce received $2.5 million from WiGfG, too, to sponsor it's "independent group" ads.
Different groups with different names, but all the same source.
R.J. Johnson was directly involved with operations of the Friends of Scott Walker (FOSW) campaign, as well as Wisconsin Club for Growth . . . essentially coordinating the campaign activities of both entities . . . . As a gubernatorial recall candidate, Scott Walker aised funds for his personal campaign committee (FOSW) andA direct link showing someone who was directly involved and coordinating between the campaign and the dark money group. And, in fact, paid by both groups at the time.
simultaneously personally raised funds for WiCFG which was also involved in political activity to his benefit . . .
[Id. at ¶ 27, n. 32; Exhibits 7.2, 7.3]: WiCFG bank records reflect that Gogebic Taconite LLC donated $700,000 to WiCFG in 2011-2012. As Mr. Nickel (Dean Nickel, an investigator for the John Doe Probe) states,(information in italics is my addition for clarity)
“After the recall elections, special legislation was approved in 2013 expediting the
mining permit and approval process for Gogebic Taconite. Recently special
legislation was also introduced benefiting Gogebic Taconite by closing access to
publicly available forest at the proposed mining site in Northern Wisconsin. The
legislation was supported by Governor Walker as well as WiCFG.”
Again, amazing how hard (and fast) Republicans worked to smooth the way after all that money was donated. Legislation that was written by Gogebic itself for its own benefit. I can tell you that many of us looked for a monetary connection, but found none. It was only the John Doe Probe and the release of previous secret documents that revealed that there WAS a monetary connection, but it was so sneaky, slimy, and hidden within the legal anonymity of a dark money group no one would have been the wiser.
Of course, Gogebic Taconite got everything they wanted and it certainly seems to have gone to their heads as demonstrated by their subsequent actions. They got to work immediately test drilling and ensuring that the public couldn't get close to their operations even in public forests.
Gogebic Taconite to put mercenaries in Wisconsin forests as detailed by noise of rain in a wonderful report complete with a picture of an unlicensed, automatic rifle bearing, camouflage wearing "soldier" protecting what the mining company certainly thought of as "their" property.
Well, that's my take on the documents now that I'm back on my feet again. I'm sure there's more to come.