Really? A 20- to 25-minute conversation and he didn’t know he was being punk’d? The tale of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bogus phone conversation with a guy he thought was multi-billionaire conservative tycoon David H. Koch is making serious waves. The AP story says: “On the call, Walker joked about bringing a baseball bat to a meeting with Democratic leaders, said it would “be outstanding” to be flown out to California by Koch for a good time after the battle is over, and said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country. Audio was posted on the Buffalo Beast, a left-leaning website based in New York, and quickly spread across the Internet. That Beast’s website is down, but the phone call audio is available here. Democrats ripped Walker’s comments on the call on the Assembly floor Wednesday morning, saying they had nothing to do with his assertion that legislation stripping public employees’ collective bargaining rights is needed to help solve a looming budget deficit.” Un-bleeping-believable.
Greg Sargeant on the Washington Post’s “Plum Line” blog believes the call to be real — as in a real prank that Walker swallowed whole. He notes, “ Another key exchange: FAKE KOCH: What we were thinking about the crowds was, planting some troublemakers. WALKER: We thought about that. My only gut reaction to that would be, right now, the lawmakers I talk to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this. The teachers union did some polling and focus groups… It’s unclear what Walker means when he says he “thought” about planting some troublemakers, but it seems fair to ask him for clarification.” Oh, I think Walker’s going to be asked for A LOT of clarification.
Here’s a link to the transcript.
And uh, then there are the actual legal issues related to parts of his purely political conversation. The lefty Public Campaign Action Fund is saying: “ ‘In a call with who he thought to be billionaire political donor, David Koch, Gov. Walker may have broken campaign finance and ethics laws,’ said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. ‘If he did, he should resign. If you didn’t believe it before, you have to now — this fight isn’t about the budget, it’s about favors for corporate special interests,’ continued Donnelly. ‘If Wisconsin law forbids coordination with political donors similar to federal law, Gov. Scott Walker is not just in political trouble, but in legal hot water.’ Public Campaign Action Fund is currently in discussions with election experts on whether Gov. Walker may have broken state election law and whether a complaint should be filed.
[Relevant section (At the 4-minute mark]: “Gov. Walker: ‘After this in some of the coming days and weeks ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are going to need, they don’t need initially ads for them, but they’re going to need a message out. Reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy, a good thing to do for the state. So to the extent that message is out over and over again is certainly a good thing.’
[Prankster] Ian Murphy (posing as David Koch): ‘Right, right. We’ll back you any way we can.’ ” What’ll be almost as interesting here is how many people won’t see anything at all wrong with such a conversation.
Sam Stein at The Huffington Post talks with prankster Murphy: “Ian Murphy, the editor of the Buffalo Beast, told The Huffington Post in an interview that he was ‘shocked’ at how easy it was to get Walker, currently the nation’s most-talked-about governor, on the phone merely by pretending to be a billionaire donor. ‘Fifteen minutes in, I wanted to almost stop it and say, ‘Are you so dumb, I’m not David Koch. How can your staff be so incompetent and how could I get on the phone with you so easily,’ Murphy said, barely suppressing his glee. ‘But I didn’t.’ Instead, Murphy spent an additional five minutes talking to Walker about a host of outlandish proposals and takes on the protests that have erupted around the governor’s anti-union budget legislation. Walker’s office insists that he said nothing on the phone with Murphy that he wouldn’t have said in public.” Riiiiight.
David Dayten at Firedoglake fumes: “There are tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens outside in Madison, inside the Capitol Rotunda, who cannot get an audience with Scott Walker. “David Koch” can call and talk to him for 20 minutes. This power imbalance is at the heart of our corporate-captured government. Without a strong citizen’s movement, people like the Koch Brothers would have all the access, all the influence, and all the power. And they would get legislation written their way, protecting and furthering their interests. And best of all, Murphy didn’t have to pretend to be a pimp or a prostitute in order to do it. Or, depending on your opinion of Mr. Koch, he did.”
What FoxNews’ primetime hosts say tonight is a different matter, but even the Fox website is reporting: “The Koch brothers own Koch Industries, Inc., which is the largest privately-owned company in America [second after Cargill, I believe] and has significant operations in Wisconsin. Its political action committee gave $43,000 to Walker’s campaign, and donated heavily to the Republican Governors’ Association, which funded ads attacking Walker’s opponent in last year’s election. The Kochs also give millions to support Americans For Prosperity, which launched a $320,000 television ad campaign in favor of Walker’s legislation on Wednesday and already has a website, standwithwalker.com, where more than 60,000 have signed a petition supporting his plan. … On the call, Walker talks about speaking with Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen, one of the Democrats hiding in Illinois to stop the bill, and telling Cullen he would not budge. He describes Cullen as ‘pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us.’ Cullen called the call an ‘astounding confirmation of what we’ve been saying for a couple weeks now.’ ”
In their own strange way, Minnesota’s anti-tax Republicans are looking at enhancing revenue. MPR’s Tom Scheck reports: “The chair of the Minnesota Senate Tax Committee says she’s going to look at eliminating some tax deductions. Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said she’d like to look at each deduction, whether it’s for home mortgage interest or tax breaks for research and development. Minnesota’s tax code includes billions of dollars in tax breaks. … Ortman said there are a few breaks she thinks are working including the mortgage interest deduction, which she said helps promote home ownership. She didn’t specify which deductions she would target.” Always with that “specify” thing. Can’t we live by sweeping generalities?
My own unscientific survey says snow and ice do nothing to reduce the amount of absolutely wacked driving. But pity the highway patrol … The AP reports: “[E]ight troopers have been struck by vehicles on state roads in the past three days. The State Patrol also says 31 troopers have been hit since November. That’s up from the 13 troopers struck by vehicles during the same period last year. The State Patrol is holding a news conference today to address safety issues and highlight the state’s “Move Over” law.” But, like, can I move after I send this text?
Interesting dust-up between a Minneapolis parish and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis (which has a lot of other problems.) Rose French, blogging on the Strib’s “Acts of Faith” page, says: “At a recent Sunday Mass at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Bloomington, a woman stepped up to the podium on the altar — and started to preach. For at least one parishioner, the act of a female lay person (albeit with a master’s degree in theology from St. Paul seminary) addressing the congregation during the homily portion of the worship service was too out of bounds. So the parishioner contacted the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after the Jan. 23 service. And not long after, the Rev. Peter Laird, the archdiocese vicar general, spoke to St. Edward’s pastor, the Rev. Mike Tegeder, about the situation. According to Tegeder, Laird said it was not appropriate for a lay person to preach during the homily, the part of the Mass when priests or deacons usually reflect on the Gospel and scripture.” Not even when they’re pitching the latest building project?
On another Strib blog, Jim Buchta, the paper’s real estate guy, writes: “The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said Wednesday that existing home sales nationwide rose 2.7 percent during January, but prices fell to their lowest level in almost nine years. … At the same time a Wall Street Journal report yesterday said that NAR might have over-reported the number of home sales in recent years, a revelation that suggests that the housing downturn has been worse than previously thought. The group is looking into the possiblity that consolidations among the Realtor groups that report the data might have contributed to inaccuracies in its sales numbers going back to 2007.