Here's what I don't get about the conversation between Gov. Scott Walker and the blogger impersonating Walker campaign contributor David Koch: Why didn't the blogger close the deal?
If you listen to the conversation between Walker and Ian Murphy (as Koch, a conservative activist and billionaire), it's clear the governor got seriously punked. Walker sounds comfortable, even eager, discussing the dirtiest details of his plan to kill Wisconsin's public sector unions and all but assume the mantle of Ronald Reagan's heir apparent.
So why, as Walker's blathering on, didn't Murphy refer to Walker's plan to sell the state's power plants on a no-bid basis and say something like: "So, about those power plants — were the contributions enough for me to get them pretty cheap, or do you need more?"
I asked Murphy this via e-mail on Sunday. It seems fair, given Murphy's modus operandi, to recount part of our exchange here
Murphy: Sorry. Dunno. I guess I just suck.
Me: OK, I guess that's one answer. I really am interested, so if you want to expand any further, I'll all ears. ...
Murphy: "I'll all ears," too, buddy.
After I apologized for my typo — and another he pointed out in a later e-mail — we got down to business.
"I regret not pushing it further, honestly," he said. He said he was "in shock" at how readily Walker opened up to him. At one point, the governor said he "thought about" planting troublemakers among the protesters clogging Capitol Square.
Of course Walker wasn't doing anything illegal, as the Dane County district attorney has made clear. Craven and incredibly stupid, maybe, but not illegal.
And in the end it probably doesn't matter that Murphy didn't try to get Walker to admit to some kind of pay-to-play scheme for power plants or other government favor — because there probably was never any scheme to begin with.
Despite the need among what seems like a sizable minority of Madison's left to put a face on a bona fide corporate conspiracy, Walker and Koch are probably guilty of nothing more odious than being right-wing ideologues.
The political action committee Koch, his brother and their companies control gave some $2.6 million in the 2010 election cycle, almost entirely to Republican candidates and other right-leaning efforts, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. Through their political action committee, they gave Walker $43,000 directly, while funneling $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $5 million on advertising in support of Walker's bid.
But more likely than any effort to grease the wheels in some illegal tit-for-tat is that Koch and his allies have a vision of the way the world would work best for them and a lot of money to spend in pursuit of that vision.
In that, they are not unlike any other interest group — be it a pair of Realtors associations, which together gave more than twice as much to Walker's campaign as KochPAC, or the state dentists association, which gave just $2,000 less.
But I've yet to see any signs at the Capitol about conspiring dentists.
Contact Chris Rickert at 608-252-6198 or firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisRickertWSJ).