There is a history in the labor and civil rights movements of using “troublemakers” to provoke discord and cause violence to try and discredit their legitimacy. Ethics and labor law violations should be considered.
The following is a transcript of a nearly 20 minute conversation on February 22, 2011 between Ian Murphy, a columnist for the website known as The Buffalo Beast, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Murphy was posing as conservative activist David Koch. The conversation was initially posted to the YouTube.com website.
To hear the actual conversation go to:
WALKER: Hi, this is Scott Walker.
MURPHY: Scott, David Koch, how are you?
WALKER: Hey, David, I’m good, and yourself?
MURPHY: I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, what’s the latest?
WALKER: We’re actually hanging pretty tough. Amazingly, there’s a much smaller group of protesters, almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up, getting it almost to the last point to where it can be unamendable but they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate is in, but they’re — the Assembly Democrats have about 100 amendments to go through. The State Senate still has the 14 members missing, but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things that members on the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit. The Senate Majority Leader had a great plan, he told them about this morning, he told the Senate Democrats about, and he’s going to announce it today, and that’s the Senate Organization Committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up, for two consecutive days on a session day in the state senate, the senate chief clerk, it’s a little procedural thing here, but can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted into your checking account…
WALKER: And, instead, you still get a check but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them, which we just loved, to lock them in their desks on the floor of the state senate.
MURPHY: Now, you’re not talking to any of them Democrat bastards are you?
(Double-click “more” to finish the transcripts)
WALKER: There’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things that I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship, and his work with us on other things and tell him well, I wasn’t going to budge. Mainly, because he’s about the only reasonable one over there,
MURPHY: Goddamn right.
WALKER: I figured if I go talk to him, he’ll go back to the rest of the gang and say you know I’ve known Walker for 20 years and he’s not budging.
MURPHY: Now what’s his name again?
WALKER: His name is Tim Cullen.
MURPHY: All right.
WALKER: He’s …
MURPHY: I’ll give that man a call.
WALKER: Actually in his case, I wouldn’t call him, and I’ll tell you why. He’s pretty reasonable, but he’s not one of us. So, I would let him be. I think he’s in a position where maybe he can motivate that caucus but he’s not an ally, he’s just a guy, he was in the senate years ago, he was actually the Senate democrat leader back in the 80s and Tommy Thompson hired him to be the head of health and human services, he went into the private sector, made real money, and then became a little more open minded, and last fall he got elected into the senate seat he was in 25 years ago. And he’s kind of one of these guys, he really doesn’t care, he’s not there for political reasons, he’s just trying to get something done. So he’s good to reach out to for me, but he’s not a conservative, he’s just a pragmatist.
MURPHY: Now, who could we get to budge on this collective bargaining?
WALKER: Well, I think in the end, a couple of things are one, I think the paycheck will have an impact. Secondly, one of the things we’re looking at next probably announce in the next day or two, we’ve been working with our Republican leaders in the legislature, we’re still waiting on an opinion to see if the unions have been paying to put these guys up outta the state, we think there’s at a minimum an ethics code violation if not an outright felony.
MURPHY: Well, they’re probably putting hobos in suits.
MURPHY: That’s what we do. Sometimes.
WALKER: Well, I mean, paying for the senators to be put up.
WALKER: I know they’re paying for these guys to be in. People can pay protestors to come in, that’s not an ethics thing, but literally if the unions are paying the 14 senators, if they’re paying for their food, their lodging, anything like that, we believe at a minimum it’s an ethics code violation, and it may very well be a felony misconduct in office because see technically, it’s not just a political contribution. It is – If they’re being paid to keep them from doing their job, we think that’s a, you know, legally an obstruction of justice, but an obstruction of their ability to their job and we still got the attorney general’s office who is looking into it for us. So, we’re trying about 4 or 5 different angles and each day we crank up a little bit more pressure, but the other thing I’ve got layoff notices ready, we put out the at risk notices, we’ll announce Thursday, they’ll go out early next week, and we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at risk notices for layoffs, we might ratchet that up a little bit too.
MURPHY: Beautiful, beautiful. Got to crush that union.
WALKER: Well, it’s one of those where in the end, I’ve had not only Cullen, I had 3 or 4 other of my business leader friends who known him over the years and just kind of pass the message on these guys. If they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years ’cause I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County, and won even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered, politically because we don’t budge.
MURPHY: Goddamn right.
WALKER: You’re doing the right thing, you stay firm and in this case, we say we’ll wait it out, if they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers will be laid off, sooner or later they’re going to put pressure on the senators to come back. We’re not compromising, we’re not.
WALKER: The other thing we may do ’cause the senator I mentioned thinks that these guys, you’ve got a few of the radical ones who unfortunately one of them is the minority leader but most of the rest of them are just looking for a way to get out of this, and they’re scared out of their mind, they don’t know what it means. There’s a bunch of recalls up against them, they’d really like to just get back here and get it over with. So the paycheck thing, some of the other things, threatens them. I think collectively there’s enough going on that as long as they think don’t I’m not going to cave, which again we have no interest in. An interesting idea that was brought up to me this morning by my Chief of Staff, we won’t do it until tomorrow is putting out an appeal to the democrat leader that I would be willing to sit down to talk to him, the assembly democrat leader, plus the other two republican leaders. Talk, not negotiate, and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn, I’ll only do it if all 14 of them come back and sit down in the state assembly, they can recess it to come back and talk to me but they have to come back there. The reason for that is we’re verifying it this afternoon, but legally we believe once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they actually in session that day and they take a recess, the 19 senate republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way. We’re double checking that but that would be the only if you heard that I was talking to them, that would be the only reason why we would only do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them. And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them-you want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that. I can deal with that but I’m not negotiating.
MURPHY: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I do.
WALKER: I have one in my office here. You’d be happy with that. I’ve got a slugger with my name on it.
WALKER: But in the end, this is and I pointed this out last night because I’m trying to keep out as many of the private union as possible, this is about the budget. This is about public sector unions, hell even FDR got it. There’s no place for that kind of…essentially you’re having taxpayers money being used to pay the lobby to spend more of the taxpayer’s money. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
WALKER: So, this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it but I think for us, I just keep telling – I tell the speaker, the senate majority leader every night, give me a list of people I need to call at home, shore them up. The New York Times of all things, I don’t normally tell people to read the New York Times, but the front page of the New York Times has got a great story, one of these unbelievable moments of true journalism what is supposed to be objective journalism, they got out of the capitol and went down one county south of the capitol to Janesville, to Rock County, where the General Motors Plant once was.
WALKER: They moved out two years ago. The lead on this story is about a guy who was laid off two years ago and has been laid off twice by GM. who points out that everybody else in his town has had to sacrifice except for all these public employees and it’s about damn time they do it, he supports me. And they had a bartender, they had every stereotypical blue collar worker type they interviewed and the only ones that weren’t with us were people who were either a public employee or married to a public employee. It’s an unbelievable … so I went through and called all these handful a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about, each day and said everyone of you should get that story printed out and send it to anybody giving you grief.
MURPHY: Goddamn, right. We sent Andrew Breitbart down there.
WALKER: Good stuff.
MURPHY: Yeah. He’s our man, you know.
WALKER: Well, it has been amazing to me, the massive amount of attention you know I want to stay ahead so every day I do a 5:00 press conference and I’m actually doing a fireside chat which the state TV stations are picking up on I guess a bunch of national ones are too, and in the last couple of days when I do the TV shows I’ve been going after Obama because he stuck, although he’s backed off now but he stuck his nose in here and I said, you know, he asked me what I thought about it and I said last time I checked this guy’s got a much bigger budget deficit than we do and maybe he should worry about that. And not stick his nose in Wisconsin business.
MURPHY: Ha ha ha.
WALKER: We’ve been on all the national shows, we were on Hannity last night, I did Good Morning America, the Today Show and all that sort of stuff was on Morning Joe this morning, we’ve done Greta, we’re going to keep getting our message out. Mark Levine last night and I’ve got to tell you, the response from around the country has been phenomenal I had Brian the governor in Nevada call me last night, he said he was out in the Lincoln day circuit the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he’s new as well as me, he said Scott don’t come to Nevada ’cause I’d be afraid you’ll beat me running for Governor. That’s all they wanna talk about is what are you doing to help the governor in Wisconsin. Next question is I talked to Cassick every day, you know John’s got to stand firm in Ohio. I think we can do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida, I think Snyder if he got a little more support could probably do that in Michigan. We start going down the list, and a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something, big.
MURPHY: You’re the first domino.
WALKER: Yep. This is our moment.
MURPHY: Yeah. What else can we do for you down there?
WALKER: Well, the biggest thing would be and your guy on the ground probably seeing this is the well, two things. One, our members originally got freaked out by all the bodies here, I told them an interesting story, when I was first elected County Executive, in Milwaukee of all places, the first budget I put through was pretty bold, aggressive, the union went nuts on me and got all sorts of grief, but a couple of weeks later I’m at a Veteran’s Day parade and I’m going down the line and usually unless you’re a veteran, or, you know, when you’re marching with a veteran’s group politicians all get polite applause but nobody gets up. I come down the line 40, 50 people in a row hands up, thumbs up, you know, cheering, screaming, yelling, way to go, hang in there Walker and then after about 40-50 people like that there’s a guy flipping me off. This goes on, you know, 40-50 .. [empty space] .. the people who know it’s right will cheer you, applaud you, they’ll run through a wall for you, and the people that don’t like you, they’re going to flip you off. But stop worrying about, you know, them because the other day there were 70,000 probably about two thirds were against the bill, on third were for. 70,000 people at the Capitol all week there’s been, 15 to 30,000 a day but I remind all our lawmakers that there’s five and a half million people in this state and just because a bunch of guys who can jump off of work because their union rules doesn’t mean that the rest of the people in your district are with them. So one thing for your question is the more groups that are encouraging people not just to show up but call lawmakers and tell them to hang firm with the governor the better, because the more they get that reassurance, the easier it is for them to vote yes.
MURPHY: Right, right.
WALKER: The other thing is more long term and that is after this, um, you know, the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them but they ‘re going to need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state so the extent that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously, that’s obviously a good thing.
MURPHY: Right, right. We’ll back you anyway we can. But uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, was planting some troublemakers.
WALKER: You know the — well — the only problem with — because we thought about that. The problem with — my only gut reaction to that would be right now the, the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them. The teacher’s union did some polling of some focus groups I think and found out the public turned on them the minute they closed school down for a couple of days. The guys we got left are largely from out of state and I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences and saying uh, they’re mostly from out of state. My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused, it is that that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems. Where as I’ve said, hey, ya know, we can handle this, people can protest, this is Madison, you know, full of the 60s liberals, let ’em protest. It’s not going to affect us and as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let them protest all they want. So, that’s my gut reaction, is I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, ’cause sooner or later the media stops finding them interesting.
MURPHY: Well, not the liberal bastards on MSNBC.
WALKER: Oh, yeah, but who watches that? I mean I went on Morning Joe this morning, but I like it just getting, being combative with those guys. But they’re off the deep-end
MURPHY: But Joe’s, Joe’s a good guy, he’s one of us.
WALKER: Yeah, he was all right, he’s fair to me, I mean the rest of them we’re out there, well I had fun they had Schumer over from New York on, ripping me and then they had a little clip of a state senator hiding out ripping me and it was almost too easy. I walked out and Joe asked me a question and I said well before I answer that, let me just point out the amazing irony of the fact that you got a United States Senator from New York. A Senator who, by the way is a part of a team that can’t seem to balance the federal budget talking about my budget, at least he’s coming into work to talk about something although it’s mine, and you got one of these 14 state Senate democrats who can’t even bother to show up and deal with the budget he’s elected to do something about and that kind of tells you the whole story right there.
MURPHY: Beautiful, beautiful. But you’ve got to love that Mika Brzezinski. She’s a piece of ***.
WALKER: Oh, yeah.
MURPHY: She’s the best.
WALKER: A couple of weeks ago, I had known her before, I was having dinner with Jim Sensenbrenner when I came into DC for a day, to do an event and was going over to do Greta’s show, had dinner with Jim, Congressman Sensenbrenner and right next to us was the two of them and their guest was Axlerod. So, I came over, I introduced myself.
MURPHY: That son of a bitch.
WALKER: Yeah, no kidding huh? Introduced myself and said, I said you probably knew who I was since your boss was campaigning against me but uh, and it’s always good to let them know you know what’s going on.
MURPHY: Well, good, good. It’s good catching up with you.
WALKER: Well thanks. This is an exciting time. This is, I told my cabinet. I had a dinner the Sunday, excuse me, Monday right after the 6th, came home from the Super Bowl where the Packer’s won, that Monday night, I had all my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, we had already kind of doped plans up, but it was kind of a last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb and I stood up and I pulled out a, a picture of Ronald Regan and I said you know this may seem a little melodramatic but 30 years ago Ronald Regan whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers and I said to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations and or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover. And I said this may not have as broad a world implications but in Wisconsin’s history-little did I know how big it would be nationally, in Wisconsin’s history, I said, this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history and this is why it’s so important that they were all there. I had a cabinet meeting this morning and I reminded them of that. I said for those who thought I was being melodramatic, you now know it was purely putting it in the right context.
MURPHY: Ha, ha, ha. Well, I’ll tell you what Scott once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
WALKER: All right that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support in helping us to move the cause forward. And we appreciate it and we’re uh, doing it, the just and right thing for the right reason and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.
MURPHY: Absolutely and you know we have a little bit of vested interest as well.
WALKER: Well, that’s just it. The bottom line is we’re going to get the world moving here because it’s the right thing to do.
MURPHY: All right then.
WALKER: Well, thanks a million.
MURPHY: Bye bye.