The characters in this drama:
Scott Walker, who desperately needs to be reelected governor of Wisconsin this fall so he can keep his presidential aspirations alive.
Mary Burke, the Democratic challenger, who has shocked the Republican establishment by being deadlocked with Walker in every recent poll.
The Trek Bicycle Company, which is headquartered in Wisconsin. It employs nearly 1,000 people in the state, with an annual payroll of $52 million. It also has plants in Germany, Holland and China. It was founded by Burke's father and she is a former executive of the company.
Scott Walker being tied with Burke has made him scared and desperate. Therefore he is simultaneously running on his claims of being "pro-business" while spending heavily on a campaign criticizing Trek for its business practices....practices which Walker supports so long as anyone else is doing them. The Wisconsin Republican Party was also formally joined into the attack on one of Wisconsin's leading exporters.
Take it away, Wisconsin Capital Times/madison.com
The Wisconsin Republican Party filed a complaint Tuesday with the state elections board over a full-page newspaper ad by Trek Bicycle Corp., saying it amounts to an illegal contribution to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.And also Cap Times columnist John Nichols (emphasis mine)
She is the sister of Trek president John Burke. Their father started the company in the 1970s and Mary Burke previously worked there as a top executive.
Mary Burke has touted her connections with Trek during the campaign, while Walker has tried to sully those ties by pointing out that Trek manufactures bikes in China. Trek is the largest manufacturer of bikes in the United States, but it also has plants in China, Germany and Holland.
Last week Walker launched a television ad saying Burke made millions while working for a company that shipped jobs overseas where woman and children earn as little as $2 an hour. He unveiled a second ad attacking Burke on outsourcing jobs on Tuesday.
The ads, coming from the pro-business Walker, were even more unusual given that his administration just two years ago lauded Trek and made it one of five companies at the center of a marketing drive to attract other businesses to Wisconsin.
The governor’s decision to launch an expensive, unrelenting media campaign attacking the business practices of Trek Bicycle — the company founded and run by the family of his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke — has little precedent in the modern era of Wisconsin politics.The depths of Walker's hypocrisy and stupidity here are almost too deep to plumb. Here a just a few of the contradictions:
Walker has every right to gripe about Trek locating production facilities in other countries, especially low-wage countries like China. Debates about outsourcing jobs are legitimate, and vital. The weird thing, of course, is that Walker has been a proponent of trade policies that encourage outsourcing, and a defender of Republicans — including Mitt Romney — who help ship U.S. jobs overseas. Indeed, Walker has traveled to China to promote a vision of trade relations that includes outsourcing.
Needless to say, with this campaign strategy the governor has opened himself to charges of hypocrisy. But that is not the most serious concern. Walker has attacked a Wisconsin company that has made at least some effort to keep not just headquarters jobs but hourly work in the state.
Remarkably, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has picked up on the anti-Trek campaign, lodging complaints about the company’s efforts to defend itself.
While Walker says he wants to make Wisconsin a more attractive state in which to do business, his actions suggest he is less interested in the business climate than in maintaining his political viability. That’s a bad signal to Trek and to the burgeoning bicycle-design and production industry it has come to represent — an industry that could, under the right leadership, become a greater force for job creation here.
*Only two years ago, the agency Walker created and chairs chose Trek as one of the companies featured in a marketing campaign to encourage others to do business in Wisconsin. WEDC featured Burke’s brother John, the company CEO, in a two-minute promotional video and said Trek “has developed into a global leader in the design and manufacturing of bikes and biking equipment.” The WEDC described Trek as a company that embodies the state’s “pioneering spirit and heritage of innovation, key attributes of our state’s business climate.”
*The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — an agency created and chaired by Walker himself — gave financial awards to two companies, Ireland-based Eaton Corporation and Wisconsin-based Plexus Corp., that later laid off a total of 279 workers in Wisconsin and relocated the work overseas.
*Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has received $68,500 in campaign donations from corporations that outsource jobs, according to a report from Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based WQOW, which referenced data from Walker's latest campaign finance report. The outsourcing corporations that contributed to Walker include, but are not limited to: WellPoint, Caterpillar, Deloitte, General Motors and Pfizer.
*Just last year Scott Walker lead a trade mission to China to promote exactly the sort of business practices he is not attacking Trek for.
What does Wisconsin's business community think of all this?
"In a million years, I don't know why a governor of a state who has stated his goal is to create jobs would go after one of the finest companies in the state," said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences, a Madison-based biotechnology company that's grown from three to 300 employees in five years. "It doesn't help any of us who are out there fighting every day to add jobs to the Wisconsin economy every day."Oh, and then there is this, which I compiled from the data put out by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. I'm restricting the reporting to just Wisconsin and its neighbors.
Change in private sector employment since 2/10 (the national low point):
Change in state exports over past 12 months
The Walker campaign is desperate. I'm certain they know that there is more bad news for the Wisconsin economy in the pipeline. For example, there will be an update every month from now until election day making it clear that Walker's Wisconsin is, like Brownback's Kansas, destroying its own finances with trickle down economics.
May 2014 vs May 2013 Wisconsin tax revenues
Income taxes -5.5%
Sales taxes +0.2%
Corporate taxes -20.2% (!)
Excise taxes -0.6%
Other taxes +1.4%
TOTAL CHANGE, MAY 2014 VS. MAY 2013 -2.5%
GOP outsourcing billboard featured coal miner from Russia
The Wisconsin Republican Party outsourced part of an advertisement against outsourcing jobs.
The party bought space on several billboards throughout Wisconsin criticizing Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke for outsourcing jobs to China while she was an executive at Trek Bicycle Corp., her family's business. The billboard features a picture of a coal miner, inside the shape of the state of Wisconsin, with an arrow pointing to China. Burke faces Gov. Scott Walker in the November election.
But BuzzFeed reports that this miner is neither Wisconsinite nor Chinese immigrant — the photo is a stock image from Russian photographer Andrey Bortnikov, whose personal page identifies the miner as a current Russian citizen.
The Republican Party said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed and the Journal Sentinel: "The image was purchased from an American company for a graphic that was designed by an American company, and was placed on Wisconsin billboards."
A party representative said that the billboard ran for one day, Wednesday, and was removed.
Joe Zepecki, communications director for Burke's campaign, wrote in an email: "If Scott Walker had the same level of concern for Wisconsin workers than he has for Russian coal miners, maybe we wouldn't be dead last in the Midwest, tenth out of ten, in private sector job creation on his watch."