Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is Walker's use of office for partisan advancement an Ethics Code issue?

[Updated] With Walker continuing his out-of-state travel (all of which comes with state-provided security, officials have confirmed), on a state salary, and campaigning unabashedly for the higher and more remunerative office of President on the strength of his status as a sitting, re-elected Governor - - a point echoed in conservative media - - isn't there a case to be made that he's in violation of this section of the state ethics code:
19.46 Conflict of interest prohibited; exception. (1) Except in accordance with the board’s advice under s. 5.05 (6a) and except as otherwise provided in sub. (3), no state public official may:
(b) Use his or her office or position in a way that produces or assists in the production of a substantial benefit, direct or indirect, for the official, one or more members of the official’s immediate family either separately or together, or an organization with which the official is associated. 
He has also taken a recent high-profile 'trade mission' to London at state expense - - a trip meant to burnish his overseas experience, and has one or perhaps two more trips schedule to Western Europe and Israel this spring..

Note that before his schedule filled up with his most-recent appearances in South Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC, among others, Walker said almost a month ago he had no plans to reduce his traveling even as other policy-makers said his interest in state affairs was suffering while major issues were on the table:
As the governor has jumped to near the front of the pack of potential GOP presidential nominees, his travel has increased.
Walker met with conservative donors in New York City on Wednesday and Thursday and attended the National Governors Association meeting over the weekend in Washington. On Monday, he's traveling to Nashville for a Christian broadcasters' convention and then later in the week returning to Washington to appear along with other 2016 GOP hopefuls at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Work on the right-to-work bill and state budget — the two biggest bills of the legislative session — is moving forward at a furious clip in the Legislature. But in an interview at the governor's conference meeting Friday, Walker said he didn't plan to cancel any of his out-of-state travel.
Walker continues to travel with some state support, plus his salary, and the cachet provided by his incumbency. 

His disinterest is drawing more notice than you might think.

And while we do not have an accounting of how much the taxpayers are paying on a daily basis for these trips, we also do not know who is picking up costs and providing things of value to Walker - - airfare, lodging, meals, cars - - and thus might be in a position to use those favors as a route back to Walker and Wisconsin for something in return.

And what are the agreements or protocols or safeguards or firewalls connecting or disconnecting the Walker campaign and his personal interest from the Walker governorship and the people's interests?

Wouldn't it be a lot cleaner if he stepped aside? 


JoAnn said...

I think he should be removed from office. I do believe he is in violation of his Oath of Office and I do believe he has and is abusing his powers.

Anonymous said...

This is the guy that had a criminal defense fund even though, by his own admission, he was not a target and, per Wisconsin law, could not have one.

There are powerful interests behind Walker. He has not let laws stop him before, no one holds him accountable, and he isn't going to let laws stop him now (and no one will hold him accountable).

The major media outlets promote him shamelessly and now claim that cannot even ask him questions or cover important news that is "inconvenient" to Walker, because it isn't fair and Walker won't answer anyhow. The media now wants us to believe that any question to Walker is a "gotcha" question -- inherently unjust and unfair.

So you points in this post might make sense for a mere mortal, but you are talking about the man blessed by the ghost of Ronald Reagan. Rules don't apply to Walker and the media has acquiesced to this travesty.

Anonymous said...

I guess the corrupt GOP led legislature better change that rule pronto so Walker can do as he pleases.

Jonathan Swift said...

Laws we don't need no stinking laws.

Anonymous said...

Now is when the Democrats should attack our worthless governor. Sorry to say but we can blame the blue party for this mess as well as the GOP. A few true leaders need to step forward and start ripping the clown apart. The failure in the recall was beyond ridiculous. It was an insult to everyone of the citizens who signed the petition. There was plenty of time to find a new candidate, yet Barrett was the only one with the guts to run?? In the 2014 race the Dems put up one candidate. We need someone with courage to derail Bozo, and we can't sit around and wait for the media to do it, and it sure appears that we can't wait for the Democratic Party to do their job. Walker knows that he can spend three years turning this state into a bigger mess, and the media will still back him or one of his sidekicks. We know it too.

JG said...

Walker did plenty of campaigning on his "trade mission" to London. I expect he will be in full campaign mode on his trips to Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and Spain. (And are we paying for chartered jets, or just first class air travel?) This from his Chatham House speech, for example:

"Over the past four years, we've balanced our budgets and lowered our tax burdens on individuals, on employers and on property. In fact, property taxes are now lower on a typical home than they were in 2010. How many other American governors can say that?"

Of course he's abusing his power and James Rowen's post spells out his violations nicely.

James Rowen said...

Thank you, JG.

Raven said...

"Wouldn't it be a lot cleaner if he stepped aside?"

Cleaner, yes. But given a choice between "cleaner" and "an opportunity to exercise more power", which do you really think Scott K. Wanker would choose, every single time? Did he choose a "cleaner" campaign at Marquette? Or for governor in 2010 while he was Milwaukee County Executive, with a secret email router hidden just outside his office to let county staff work on his campaign during office hours? Does his past not give a hint of his character?

MAL said...

I was thinking about that, but I think First Amendment doctrine is so expansive that Walker's political references to his sitting office are within the sphere of protected speech.

Walker's proposed budget is obscene (and Google ads by the Republican Party of Wisconsin are showing up all over every political and legal blog now).

Consider a prosecution based on the law cited. It would be contrived and results-oriented and not justice-oriented, don't want Scott Walker to be another former Gov. Don Siegelman [] who by the way still sits in a federal prison thx to Karl Rove and corrupt US Attys. Almost every political officeholder could prosecuted for federal funds bribery under (federal) 18 U.S. Code 666, if we follow the logic of the Siegelman 'conviction;' and a prosecution of Scott Walker for using his office in the manner cited and the state statute cited, , would be as immoral.

The Wisconsin political community has to face the fact that John Chisholm let fear guide his inaction in John Doe I, and other prosecutors are equally concerned about their own careers in John Doe II

Anonymous said...

Ethical? Doesn't matter. This man, his out-of-state financers, and his core backets didn't annoint him he next presient of the United States because of his ethics.

He is their guy because he will shamelessly promote the interests of multinational corporations and billionaires. He is their guy becuase he is a distraction.

For example we're bloggin' about is lack of ethics instead of the folks that he front that believe the U.S. cannot be any form of democracy.

Anonymous said...

Even if Walker is violating the law who is going to stop him? Not the Attorney General, not the State Supreme Court and certainly not the legislature. The media is worthless because he is a cash cow to them. As for the Democrats and DPW in particular; they don't have the power to call someone and say "You're running". They work hard to try to get people to get involved but nobody wants to be slandered like Mary Burke was in the days before the election. And even if they do have a great candidate running, there are Democrats who are so pure that they won't vote for anyone who doesn't fit their criteria. On election day a well-known progressive from Madison announced that she wasn't going to vote for Burke because she just didn't agree with her on everything. What good does that do?

Anonymous said...

Mal, the republicans have succeeded in gaming the refs for a long time. With hindsight, it does appear that a Grand Jury would have been a better vehicle to go after the criminality behind Scott Walker's ascent to power.

As we are seeing, John Chisholm and others have allowed it to become a mockery, especially when they refused to hold anyone accountable for violating imposed secrecy. They failed to protect the integrity of the process when they stood down and let those being investigated speak to the national media without consequences.

The only reason I have heard mentioned to use a John Doe probe is it saves money over a Grand Jury. Perhaps this was a valid concern when Wisconsin was a territory and not a State.

Today, there is no legitimate reason to claim that Wisconsin cannot afford a functional legal process. By going with the archaic John Doe probe, dragging it on for years, and not holding leakers accountable for breaking the law; the investigations have become irrelevant and it does appear that now individuals that broke the law are not only going to get away with it, they are going to successfully sue those involved with the prosecution as well.

Perhaps John Chisholm and others deserve this for allowing an critical legal case to become a dysfunctional mess. Gutting John Doe laws in Wisconsin may not be as bad as many believe. It is clear that the John Doe process has failed us in the Walker probes.

my5cents said...

I think if he's going to be a part-time governor, then he should get part-time pay.

Band Director said...

Is there any way to know if a complaint has been filed with the GAB?