Gov. Walker: $700,000

By Bill Kaplan  

Job stagnation, lackluster economic growth and the collapse of Gov. Walker's case against Medicaid expansion have imperiled his reelection. And, newly released documents from a federal appeals court have "clouded the White House prospects of Mr. Walker", according to the New York Times. The beleaguered and embattled Walker has been left looking rather small by the explosive bombshells made public this weekend about his campaign fundraising, duplicity and secrecy.

Walker's campaign spokesperson said: "Governor Walker is not a target". And, Walker exclaimed: "There is no issue." But when Walker was quizzed by the press about the secret $700,000 donation from mining company Gogebic Taconite to the Wisconsin Club for Growth ("led" by a Walker campaign consultant) -- to help Walker during the recall -- he equivocated, saying: "Not to my knowledge." It was all evocative of President Nixon during Watergate saying: "I am not a crook."

Wisconsin icons for clean government and protecting the environment such as Democratic Gov. / U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and writer / raconteur George Vukelich would have been outraged and repulsed by Walker's shenanigans. Fortunately, longtime distinguished journalist Jim Rowen has covered Gogebic's proposal for a massive iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. 

Rowen, on his blog, "Political Environment", has been dogged, relentless and scrupulously factual in outlining why the mine will be disastrous: Gogebic and Walker worked together to successfully eviscerate longstanding bipartisan environmental protections; 

- An attempt by GOP Sen. Dale Schultz and Democratic Sens. Tim Cullen / Bob Jauch to fashion a bipartisan mining bill that would protect the environment and create jobs was squelched by Walker and GOP legislative leaders;
- The GOP mining bill drawn up with Gogebic will likely result in waste from the mine despoiling and polluting ground water as well as streams;
- The mine may needlessly violate treaty rights of Native Americans regarding land and water.

In response to Gogebic's $700,000 donation that helped Walker fend off the recall, Sens. Jauch and Schultz slammed the impact on Wisconsin. Jauch said: "It is Louisiana-sleaze politics in which big money thinks it can spend enough to get the government it wants." And, Schultz said: "But there just isn't any question that the quality of public policy in Wisconsin has suffered since big money has come to the state." The retiring Jauch and Schultz leave as giants. Walker looks very small.

Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009.

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