Thursday, February 23, 2006

Campaign Finance Questions for Scott Walker

We recently learned that Scott Walker’s campaign planned on hosting contributors at a Kohl Center suite in Madison. Questions were raised by Madison’s Channel 27 about who was sponsoring the campaign event. The Walker Campaign refused to reveal the identity of the donors involved. Channel 27 also reported that 35 of the 36 luxury suites at the Kohl Center are leased by corporations. This is of interest because Wisconsin law prohibits corporations from making direct or indirect contributions to political candidates. Channel 27 News is now reporting that the Walker Campaign has now dropped it’s plans of hosting contributors in the Kohl Center luxury suite.

This is only the latest in a series of campaign finance questions for Scott Walker and those that run his campaign. I personally feel that these are questions that deserve answers.

First let me deal with Tuesday’s Audit results of two awarded contracts that I raised. To refresh your recollection, I asked questions about two contracts that were awarded to a company whose executives contributed to Scott Walker. You may recall that one contract was a no-bid contract and the other was a very large contract awarded to the company while higher scoring companies got much smaller contracts.

I have not yet seen the details of this audit, but I intend to give the auditors the benefit of the doubt. I do not regret reporting on this issue, because these were legitimate questions that deserved definitive answers. Obviously I was not alone in wanting answers to my questions. The Finance and Audit Committee and a large majority of the County Board also wanted the answers. In addition, the Walker Campaign felt that the perception was significant enough that it gave back some of the contributions involved here. The remaining question for me is the following: Shouldn’t have someone at the Walker Campaign or in the administration found this before me?

It seems that I am not alone is asking questions of the Walker Campaign. Even in a very cursory look into his campaign finance records, one can see many instances of questions and incomplete reporting. Here are some examples just going back to 2004:

  • In a June 16, 2004 Milwaukee County Election Commission meeting the Scott Walker Campaign was on the Agenda. In this meeting it was mentioned that they were having “reoccurring problems with the reports” and that “if he (Mr. Hiller) could give us more information in the future, I won’t have to spend hours doing this follow-up.” It seems that the specific reoccurring problem was “vague explanations of the expenditures.”

  • In a letter from the Election Commission, dated June 25, 2004, the Walker Campaign is asked to answer a large laundry list of questions. Some of the issues were regarding missing entries for employers of contributors, incomplete name listings, and one entry where a contributor was listed as giving an “anonymous donation.” In the upper right corner of this letter, there is a hand written note that presumably the campaign would have answers to these questions by the end of the week. Then there is a note that the issues were still outstanding after the end of the week passed.

  • In a September 22, 2004 letter from the Election Commission, the Walker Campaign is asked to provide the proper amendments to the Commission by October 6, 2004. To which the Walker campaign asks for an extension of the filings until October 15, 2004.

  • Then in a letter dated December 1, 2004, the Commission sends another letter to the Walker Campaign. In this letter the Commission warns them that if the updated finance reports “are not filed in this office by Thursday, December 9, 2004 by 5:00pm., “ you will be called before a special meeting of the Commission.” Then in the lower left hand corner of the letter, there are hand written notes. The notes state that Chairman Haag extended the deadline to December 14, 2004 but that deadline was also missed.

  • The Scott Walker Campaign once again appears on another Milwaukee County Election Commission agenda for January 24, 2005.

  • He also appears on a special agenda dated April 28, 2005 regarding sending emails about his pension-borrowing plan. Also on the agenda for that date was a review of his use of campaign funds regarding the 2005 budget.

  • According to an August 8, 2005 letter from the Milwaukee County Election Commission, Walker’s Campaign failed to provide information that it promised to get to the Commission.

  • In early August of 2005, the state Election Board fined the Walker Campaign regarding campaign style calls it funded. According to the Board, the Campaign failed to disclose that it paid for the recorded phone calls.

Scott Walker has been a vocal critic of Governor Doyle’s campaign finances, almost single-handedly convicting him of everything under the sun. He is also the same guy that recently introduced his “ethics reforms.” So why this long list of campaign finance issues? This could all be one big list of coincidences or innocent mistakes, it could be utter incompetence by those surrounding Walker, or it could be something more. I don’t know, but given his history, someone should continue asking questions. Perhaps the first question could be asked by Scott Walker.

1 comment:

Interloper said...

I think his problems with completing campaign finance reports probably lends some insight as to the quality and transparency of government Wisconsinites would receive under a Governor Walker.