The University of Wisconsin System’s chief spokesman said he regrets signing a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
“It’s my job to represent the UW System – its policies, positions and perspectives,” wrote David Giroux in a statement to the State Journal. “I have never let my personal opinions affect the way I do my job, and I will not in the future. In light of my unique role, however, I should not have signed the petition.”
The State Journal found Giroux’ name in an online database of signatures called Verify the Recall, which is run by a tea party group. Giroux is executive director of communications and external relations for UW System and part of President Kevin Reilly’s cabinet.
In addition to working with the news media, Giroux' team is also "responsible for maintaining open lines of communication with the executive and legislative branches of state government," according to the UW System website.
Four members of the UW Board of Regents, the governing body of the university system, also signed the petition, according to the website. Edmund Manydeeds, of Eau Claire, and Mark Bradley, of Wausau, confirmed that they did.
Both Manydeeds and Bradley said they can separate their personal, political opinions from their duties as UW Regents.
It also appears that John Drew of Milwaukee and Jose Vasquez, of Wauwatosa, signed the petition. They did not return requests for confirmation Monday. The addresses listed with their signatures in the database match up to their addresses on the UW Board of Regents website.
Reilly did not sign the petition, but in a statement wrote that UW System staff members are entitled to their personal opinions.
“In their roles as UW System officials, our staff members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional, nonpartisan manner. That expectation will not change. We will maintain productive relationships with the Governor, his staff, and legislators from both parties. As citizens, UW System staff members are entitled to their personal opinions. Subject to our clear policies, they may engage in political activities outside of the workplace. Some UW System employees signed recall petitions, while others chose not to. As President of the UW System, I did not believe it was appropriate for me to sign a petition. Others made a different decision, and I respect their right to do so.”