Last week, over 27,000 pages of private e-mails from one of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s convicted ex-staffers were released. As soon as the document dump hit the Web, Democrats began climbing over themselves to prove that the e-mails showed that during his time as Milwaukee county executive in 2010, Walker was part of a grand criminal conspiracy — despite the fact that prosecutors had the e-mails for nearly three years and found Walker had engaged in no criminal wrongdoing.
That hasn’t kept the gumshoes on the left from digging deep into the e-mails to embarrass Walker with bogus, often puzzling, accusations. With the law-enforcement acumen of Boss Hogg, Democrats continue to try to corner Walker, while he simply hops in the General Lee and escapes unharmed.
Interestingly, Walker’s primary opponent at the moment seems to be the clunkily named American Bridge 21st Century, a group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. The group, which has launched a website trying to tie Walker to criminal activity, is poring over the John Doe investigation e-mails in an attempt to derail Walker. At the same time, Walker’s actual gubernatorial election opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, is currently asking her online supporters to sign a petition to “keep the Koch Brothers out of Wisconsin.” But apparently that sweet, sweet Soros money is just what the state needs.
To date, the most damning tidbit the legitimate media have found was that at one point, Walker e-mailed his county staff and asked them to promote one of his positions in the comments section of an online article. But while the whole criminal investigation centered on county employees’ campaigning on the job, a politician asking his staff to make him look good is the ultimate in “dog bites man” stories.
That hasn’t kept the more fringe elements from throwing accusations into the Walker criminal bouillabaisse, hoping in totality they add up to a usable charge. Over the weekend, The Progressive magazine evidently uncovered the fact that Walker’s staffers were up to a nefarious “voter caging” plot, which they deemed an “illegal vote-purging scheme.” Other liberal national outlets ran with the incendiary news, until it was made clear that The Progressive had no idea what “caging” is; it is simply the tedious act of opening and processing checks sent to the campaign. And while the magazine quickly apologized for its embarrassingly bogus charge, the accusation was still somehow popping up in local liberal columns days after it was exposed as a fraud.
Perhaps the crown jewel of Walker attacks occurred on Monday, when Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post tried to argue that Walker has a history of breaking campaign rules because he — wait for it — violated a rule while running for Marquette University student body president in 1988, when he was 20 years old. According to Terkel, “Walker and the people he surrounds himself with have always been zealous campaigners,” which is apparently somehow relevant to the current John Doe “scandal.”
After quoting American Bridge president Brad Woodhouse, Terkel offers up this nugget from a student newspaper in February of 1988:
Potential ASMU presidential candidate Scott Walker was found guilty of illegal campaigning in a grievance hearing before members of the elections commission Monday night.
By speaking before a meeting of the Delta Chi fraternity Jan. 24, Walker, an arts and sciences sophomore, violated the rule which states, “No campaigning may begin before a candidate is registered,” the committee ruled.
Yet this “scoop” is completely out of context, and old news in Wisconsin. Just three months ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (where I write a column) investigated charges made by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin that Walker had been “kicked out of student elections,” and eventually forced out of school altogether. The paper found that the claim was completely bogus, and later the DPW had to retract their accusation.
The Journal Sentinel described the 1988 campaign thusly:
Taking on Walker and relishing it was John Quigley, a liberal student from Chicago interested in aggressively pressuring the school’s conservative administration to divest from investments in South Africa and address racial equality. Quigley opposed the higher drinking age.
Walker, a preacher’s son, was painted as an establishment incumbent tied to an increase in student fees. He urged cooperation with administrators and criticized sit-ins and protests. Walker highlighted his anti-abortion position. On campus issues, he pledged safer streets and bringing in cool bands like INXS and REM.
To Quigley, it seemed Walker and his organization were campaigning as if the prize was the presidency of the United States. Walker blamed Quigley for making the race partisan.
Both sides tripped over campaign rules that limited spending and how and where candidates could distribute literature and place signs on campus. Each side lodged complaints against the other.
An election commission found Walker guilty of campaigning a week early. A Quigley worker campaigned too close to polls. An unregistered Walker worker dropped literature at students’ doors. Walker lost campaign privileges in one Marquette facility, and lost a day of campaigning as another penalty.
Hard-hitting stuff. A 20-year-old breaks a minor campaign rule in a student race in which both sides are hammering away at each other, and it is apparently evidence 26 years later that he is a criminal mastermind. Next up from the Huffington Post: “Scott Walker found to have owned Dirty Dancing soundtrack.”
— Christian Schneider is a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.