Governor Scott Walker’s conduct on the prank call with the David Koch imposter has largely receded from the national media spotlight, but if Wisconsin Democrats have their way, it will be the subject of an investigation by Wisconsin’s enforcer of campaign finance and ethics statutes.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party is set to file a complaint today to the state Government Accountability Board that alleges Walker repeatedly violated Wisconsin statutes by appearing to request support from Koch in shoring up vulnerable Republicans and by indicating that he would use the threat of layoffs as a political tool.
I’ve got a copy of the complaint, to be released later today, and it’s worth a read, not necessarily because of the impact it may or may not have, but because it’s a reminder of how egregious Walker’s conduct on the call really was.
The complaint, which reflects a sense among Dems that all bets are off in this standoff, makes an interesting argument. By any reasonable standard, it says, Walker’s conduct should undermine “public trust” and fell well short of standards designed to ensure “the faith and confidence of the people of this state in their state public officials and state employees.”
The complaint focuses on several aspects of the prank call, but I think these two may be the most interesting:
16. Respondent states during the Call that he has the Attorney General’s office “looking into” strategies to force the Democratic senators to return. This constitutes a misuse of the independently elected office of the Attorney General for primarily political motivations.
19. Respondent states during the Call that he will send out 5,000-6,000 layoff notices to public sector employees in an attempt to “ratchet up” pressure on the Democratic Senators. This use of threat against, and intimidation of, public sector employees for political purposes constitutes an unfair labor practice in violation of Wis. Stat. Section 111.84.
The complaint also alleges that it was improper for Walker to suggest to Koch that Republicans in swing areas might need shoring up, since this smacks of illegal coordiation, though to my mind it isn’t clear what he was asking for. It also says that Walker’s claim that he “thought about” planting troublemakers in the crowd “constitutes a conspiracy to recklessly endanger public safety,” though here too it’s not quite clear what Walker really considered doing.
That said, even those examples were eyebrow-raising, and the complaint is worth reading, because it’s a reminder that taken together, Walker’s shenanigans on the call add up to conduct that by any reasonable measure should raise serious questions about Walker’s judgment and approach to his office. Some in the national media were quick to exonerate Walker after the call, but reading the complaint, the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s claim that his conduct risks undermining the public trust in state government doesn’t seem particulary unreasonable.