Walker quietly goes to Florida
April 13, 2011 Daniel Bice MJS
Do you know where in the world your governor is?
Few did late last week.
Turns out he and a campaign staffer were making the national rounds on the conservative circuit.
According to a Sunday piece on the right-wing website News- Max, Gov. Scott Walkerhad dropped by its headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday. The story said the trip was part of “a nationwide tour to drum up support for a new effort, FrontlineWisconsin.com, that seeks to defend eight Wisconsin GOP senators from a massive recall campaign that now is under way.”
Various groups have launched recall efforts against 16 senators – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – for their positions on Walker’s controversial budget-repair measure.
“What I’ve been doing is going around the country and making the case, given my position in Wisconsin, reaching out to folks across the country to say, ‘Help us out,’ ” Walker told the online publication.
Walker also spoke frankly to the publication about a number of other issues, including Supreme Court Justice David Prosser’s re-election bid. (Full disclosure: No Quarter doesn’t write about the court or that race because of a conflict of interest.)
So where is Walker going as part of this national tour? Who went with him to Florida? Did he hold any fundraisers for his own campaign while there?
Katie McCallum, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party and Walker’s campaign, was initially tight-lipped about the Florida trip and national tour, providing just a bland statement that said the first-term Republican governor is defending the Senate Republicans for supporting his bill.
Later, McCallum explained that Walker had been invited by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, to speak on fiscal responsibility at a Florida event.
Heritage is a regular recipient of funds from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which gave the Washington, D.C., outfit $478,000 in 2008 and ’09, the last years for which data is available. Walker’s campaign chairman, Michael Grebe, is the president of the Bradley Foundation.
“Governor Walker continues to do interviews in Wisconsin and around the nation with reporters and talk show hosts, and continues to deliver remarks at events promoting www.frontlinewisconsin.com,” McCallum said in an email.
Walker and a campaign staffer traveled to Florida by commercial flight, not a state plane, McCallum said. The expenses, she said, were picked up by his campaign.
At a news conference earlier this week, Walker defended his unpublicized, out-of-state trip.
“I said you’ve got big government union money coming in from Washington,” he told reporters after the Journal Sentinel disclosed the trip online. “I think grass-roots activists from across the state and across the country are needed to be able to counter it. So over the weekend, I made that case.”
Walker isn’t the first Wisconsin governor to duck out of state for a fundraising trip.
In 2005, for example, then-Gov. Jim Doyle made a quick and quiet dash to Connecticut with his chief of staff to attend a gala fundraiser at the Mohegan Sun hotel, part of a huge casino complex. The casino execs were hoping to run a tribal gambling hall in Kenosha.
Walker’s campaign did not identify past and future stops on his national tour.
But he is headed out of state again Thursday.
Walker is scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill at the request of U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who is a big fan of Wisconsin’s governor.
Daniel Bice can be contacted by phone at (414) 224-2135 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.