The latest near-close-of-business Friday admission by Gov. Scott Walker about the ongoing criminal investigation surrounding his former county executive office is ever more proof that, to bring Wisconsin back together, we must first bring honesty, accountability and transparency to the governor’s office.
We learned that for the first time in our state’s history, a sitting governor has created a legal defense fund to raise contributions to pay for the cost of hiring multiple criminal defense attorneys. Six of Gov. Walker’s top-level staff members and associates have already been arrested in the criminal probe.
We know Gov. Walker was not honest with us about how he would govern and the national, extreme tea party agenda he would pursue. We know Gov. Walker will only release his monthly schedule after the fact and only if requested under the state’s open records request. We know of his travels across the country to collect unprecedented amounts of campaign donations only because of Facebook and news coverage in other states about protests that greet his appearances. We know that, while we have lost jobs in 2011, Gov. Walker’s time is spending a lot of time raising money to keep his.
But we also know we can do better.
That’s my job: to offer you a better way and tell you upfront what I will do to bring us together, find solutions and get the job done. That’s been my record as the 14-year county executive of the state’s second-largest county and that’s why I am running for governor.
Through his actions, Gov. Walker has lost the trust of the people of Wisconsin. As governor, I will work hard to earn your trust and I’ll work even harder to keep it.
I have released a comprehensive ethics and integrity plan to “Reopen Wisconsin for the People,” which you can access on my website, www.KathleenFalk.com.
Among the details of my plan are to bring immediate transparency to the governor’s office by posting my daily schedule on the governor’s state website so you know who I am meeting with to move Wisconsin forward, create jobs and invest in our shared priorities of education, health care and caring for our seniors.
On that same page I will be putting state budget information, salaries of government officials, state contracts and other pertinent information in easily searchable formats, because you have a right to know how your tax dollars are being spent.
Unlike Gov. Walker, who signed a highly partisan redistricting plan, I will take the lead on redistricting reform to end gerrymandering, taxpayer-financed legal costs and partisanship in drawing the boundaries that determine who represents you in government. I will restore the funding for clean legislative and Supreme Court elections that Gov. Walker removed. As governor, I will also honor the open meetings laws as I have as a county executive and I will fight tirelessly to protect your most fundamental, constitutional right to vote.
Lastly, I will create a first-of-its-kind citizen commission on integrity and transparency to propose ways to increase openness for all areas of state government. Key to this is removing the more than three-dozen new political patronage jobs Gov. Walker created and publicly posting job openings for the top officials in my administration.
Wisconsin is ready to turn the corner on the turmoil, divisiveness and uncertainty caused by Gov. Walker’s actions. To do so, our next governor must be more open, honest and accountable.
It’s not too much to ask.
Kathleen Falk, Democratic candidate for governor, served as Dane County executive from 1997 to 2011.