SportsmensGate is now a permanent part of the Scott Walker legacy. It should be treated as insider trading, with an abuse-of-public funds enhancer.
Former State Rep. and Assembly leader Scott Suder used his position on the Joint Committee on Finance to insert at the close of its work on the 2013-'15 state budget an amendment creating a $500,000 grant for hunting and fishing promotion tailored for one non-profit group - - United Sportsmen of Wisconsin - - an outfit allied more with partisan GOP political work than outdoor recreation.
Suder's amendment directed that after the end of this budget cycle, the grant would renew at $450,000 every two years - - in other words, a guaranteed funding stream of taxpayer dollars for which no other group could qualify, and which would, after a few years, run into seven figures.
Ask your average non-profit if they would like such a deal.
Walker signed the budget without vetoing the grant, the DNR moved to disburse the funds, Walker lined up a $94,000-a-year plum Public Service Commission regulatory position for Suder who'd decided to leave the Assembly for far greener pastures; Walker ended the grant only after the Journal Sentinel revealed that the group had misrepresented its non-profit status, and more politically-damaging details about the group and the budget amendment were disclosed.
But Walker denied knowing about the grant's seedy beginnings - - a shoulder shrug fitting the 25-year Walker 'I know nothing' pattern - - when confronted with embarrassing information.
This is more than pants-on-fire. It's caught, pants-fully-down.
Make no mistake about it: this was an effort to use inside position to divert public dollars and subsidize a group of political operatives who were backing the party in power.
Under the cover of recreation and conservation activity.
Subsequent actions by GOP legislators to bar further inquiry into how the grant got into the budget only reinforce the belief that Walkerites in the government were cheating the taxpayers and are trying to hide the facts.
Remember the damage-control ordered in 2010 when Walker was County Executive, his GOP campaign for Governor was in full swing (with political operatives working illegally out of his own office suite on County time) and a boy was killed by falling concrete in a County-owned garage?
Said Walker's campaign chief at the time, in an email directive to County employees the day of the fatal accident:
"make sure there is not a piece of paper anywhere that details any problem at all."