Feb 5, 2015

Wisconsin Idea Fiasco—Scott Walker Says 'Staffer Did It', Record Shows Walker Lied

Wisconsin Idea drafting notes disconfirm
Scott Walker's excuses (WSJ)
Scott Walker lied; political appointee falls on sword after news breaks Scott Walker's administration directed abolishing Wisconsin Idea language - Walker still claims he did not know what his own administration was doing in Walker's ballyhooed 2015-17 State Budget proposal

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said if Walker was going to blame "rogue staffers" for writing portions of the budget, it "raises serious questions about who is in control while he is busy running for president."   (Wisconsin Public Radio)

What did Scott Walker know and when did he know it?

Updated: "Scott Walker forced to admit UW objected to Wisconsin Idea changes - Gov. Scott Walker and aides scrambled Thursday to respond to revelations that his administration had insisted to University of Wisconsin officials on scrapping the Wisconsin Idea, the guiding principle for the state's universities for more than a century."

In a rapid revision to his own comments on Wednesday, the Republican governor acknowledged that UW System officials had raised objections about the proposal."

"They had been told the changes were not open to debate."

"While backtracking on earlier comments to reporters, Walker continued to insist in a statement that he hadn't known what his own administration was doing until after the proposal became public and caused a firestorm of criticism." (Stein, Marley and Herzog, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) (Updated 7:02 p.m.)

For Scott Walker to remove the Wisconsin Idea mission of the University from Wisconsin statutes in his hyped budget proposal, and then as criticism mounted say a miscommunication resulted in a drafting error strains credulity.

The staffer who took responsibility for the "error," Michael Heifetz, is a Walker political appointee.

Surely such a potentially devastating error to the University of Wisconsin System will result in Walker's call for Heifetz' resignation. Of course not.

Scott Walker just as surly will hold a no-holds-barred question-and-answer listening session explaining Walker's understanding of the Wisconsin Idea, and Walker's complicity in [(ALMOST) removing language from the Wisconsin statute erasing the mission to "educate people and improve the human condition," as well as the language specifying that "the search for truth" is "basic to every purpose of the system." Of course not.
For a guy claiming to be an outside-the-beltway candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has learned cardinal rules of Washington politics: Blame a staffer; never take responsibility and never consider accountability.

Michael Heifetz is a Walker political appointee, named State Budget Director in November 2013. (Novak, Wisconsin State Journal)

Before that Heifetz was a health insurance executive and policy adviser to the Republican Assembly Majority Leader.

"Gov. Scott Walker's administration gave detailed, line-by-line instructions about how to strike the decades-old Wisconsin Idea from state law — even as top university officials objected — according to legislative drafting notes reviewed by the State Journal." (DeFour, Hall, Spicuzza and Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal)

"First Walker defended the change. Then he backtracked and said it was a 'drafting error.' Then, after multiple news reports showed his staff's fingerprints were all over plans to delete wording from the UW's mission in the 2016-17 budget bill, he issued a lengthy and tortured statement Thursday saying it was all just a miscommunication," notes Rob Thomas. (The Capital Times)

"On Wednesday, Walker initially expressed no concerns when questioned by a reporter about the proposed changes to the system's mission statements."

"'Learning's important, but ultimately it's most important for people to get the chance to get the education they need to succeed in the workforce and in life,' Walker said during a stop in De Pere, according to Wisconsin Radio Network." (Stein, Marley and Herzog, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Even as Walker's initial defense crumpled, Walker's instructions were proven as facts.

But not according to Heifetz.

For public consumption, Heifetz has apparently agreed to fall on Scott Walker's sword, a sword that was to be used to abolish the Wisconsin Idea, following slashing of the UW System budget.

"Governor Walker never intended for the Wisconsin Idea language to be changed. In this specific case, there was clearly a misunderstanding and I take responsibility for this drafting error. I will work to fix this moving forward," said Heifetz. (DeFour, Hall, Spicuzza and Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal)

Walker issued a flat denial today. "The only discussion we ever had about mission was maybe adding something about career development. We never talked with my budget team about altering the Wisconsin Idea," said Walker.

So Heifetz, a veteran budgetary pol at the leadership level, and Scott Walker, a career Wisconsin politician, never had any idea that striking out the Wisconsin Idea language was occurring, and Heifetz divines Walker never intended that the Wisconsin Idea language be changed, though both Heifetz and Walker blame miscommunication as the real culprit.

This despite the record showing that Scott Walker's administration gave "line-by-line instructions about how to strike the decades-old Wisconsin Idea from state law." (DeFour, Hall, Spicuzza and Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal)

Scott Walker and his administration wanted to abolish the Wisconsin Idea, emails and legislative records prove it and Scott Walker still denies it.

UW System president Ray Cross has taken 'yes' for an answer, agreeing for the record with Walker's staffer-did-it chronology, something Cross and supporters of the UW System can use as leverage against Walker during the legislative session when UW System funding comes up.
The Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch (Jonas Persson and Mary Bottari) that broke the Abolish-the-Wisconsin Idea story has a piece out today entitled "Rumors of the Walker Probe's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," by Brendan Fischer.

Recommend Fischer's piece because the nominally lead candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for the president of the United States is at the center of a criminal scheme being investigated by a bipartisan John Doe probe. (Marley, Bice and Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Four Republicans who sit on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are going to have to fall on their ethical swords to save Scott Walker from the probe.

No matter the judgment of the Court, Scott Walker stands exposed as just another lying politician who will say anything to save his hide.

1 comment:

  1. Walker is either an out and out liar, or his hand is off the throttle as he sets his sights on Washington. Inexcusable in either case, and any self respecting citizen who voted for him has to be question his or her own wisdom in letting loose this beast.