Imagine that Scott Walker was not America’s conservative poster boy.
Imagine that he was a liberal governor who had made national news implementing progressive reforms.
What would our friends at Fox News and on right-wing talk radio make sure every American knew? That the governor maintains a criminal defense fund, of course.
And on that front, recent days would have brought some interesting news.
While most Americans were preparing to celebrate New Year’s Eve, newly released documents revealed that Wisconsin’s governor was quietly doing something else: transferring $40,000 from his campaign account to the secretive fund he uses to pay some of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country.
Walker continues to assert he is not the target of the John Doe probe that has led to the convictions of his closest political aide, his former deputy chief of staff, former scheduler and a top campaign contributor on charges of theft, violations of the public trust, making illegal campaign contributions and various other felonies and misdemeanors.
Much of the wrongdoing, which occurred in and around Walker’s Milwaukee County executive office, was associated with Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. And the probe’s reach has extended deep into Walker’s current administration. His gubernatorial press secretary has accepted immunity, as has his former press secretary, veteran GOP activists associated with Walker’s campaigns, and at least nine donors to his gubernatorial campaign. The names of several of his top appointees to state positions have been linked to the probe, including Division of Health Care Access and Accountability administrator Brett Davis. And law enforcement agencies have raided the homes and offices of current Walker aides.
So it should not come as much of a surprise that the governor has moved another $40,000 to his criminal defense fund, or that the transfers from his campaign account to the fund total at least $200,000.
It is possible the governor just fell in with the wrong crowd, accepted a whole bunch of money from that wrong crowd, appointed members of that wrong crowd to top public positions, and just didn’t notice that felonies and misdemeanors were taking place all around him.
But it is not possible to imagine that our conservative friends would neglect the evolving story of a liberal governor whose name was associated with so many people involved in so much wrongdoing, especially a governor who was still shifting so much money into such a large criminal defense fund.
By any measure, the governor’s gotten an easy ride on this one, not just from conservative media but from the major media outlets that so frequently take their cues from right-wing talkers.
As such, Walker has never begun to explain why so much wrongdoing has gone on in the offices and campaigns he has run. At the very least, this is something the governor owes the people of Wisconsin — not to mention his “base” of conservative followers nationally.
NEWS NOTE: Don’t forget that John “Sly” Sylvester is back on the air Monday on a bigger station that reaches Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa: WEKZ-FM 93.7 from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org