In his new article in The Nation titled Taped Conversation Reveals Wisconsin Governor’s Deal with David Koch, seventh generation Wisconsin native John Nichols gets to the pith of the punking of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by a Buffalo blogger by the name of Ian Murphy:
The phone rang in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s office and the caller identified himself as David Koch, the billionaire who has funded the Tea Party movement and whose business interests stand to benefit from the so-called “budget repair bill.”
Then the caller, actually a prankster pretending to be Koch , and the governor joked about the “vested interest” Koch Industries has in the bill.
The 20-minute call , which the governor’s office has confirmed Walker participated in, raises questions about collaboration between the governor and benefactors of his 2010 to enact legislation that would benefit those interests.
Those questions point to a more profound question: Has Walker violated Wisconsin’s strictest-in-the-nation ethics rules, which require elected officials to “maintain the faith and confidence of the people of the state” when it comes to their actions?
Here’s the critical exchange:
Koch caller: “Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”
Governor Walker: “All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support in helping us move the cause forward…. “
Koch caller: “Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. ”
“Well,” replies Walker, “that’s just it.”
When someone who Scott Walker thought was a major donor to national groups that aided Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial run – as that gave the Walker campaign $43,000 directly, via Koch Industries’ KochPAC – said he had a “vested interest” in a budget plan being pushed by the governor, Walker replied” “Well, that’s just it.”
The conversation is so stunning in its brazenness that the Center for Media and Democracy, which had already filed a freedom-of-information requests for records of contacts between the governor and his aides and representatives of Koch industries, is stepping up those demands.
Apparently, Walker just opened a huge door to a potential investigation that could result in his removal from office. (As Nichols pointed out to Rhandi Rhodes on her radio show this afternoon, by his office issuing a statement admitting that the tape was real and not mentioning anything exculpatory along the lines of ‘I knew I was being punked and was just playing along’ excuse, Walker had virtually closed off that potential defense.)
While all of the attention of the Madison demonstrations has thus far been on the issue of public sector unions making even more monetary concessions to close a a short term budget gap brought about the Teabagger governor’s generous business tax cuts — concessions the unions have already agreed to– as well as their continuing right to bargain collectively, a fundamental labor right that a cadre of Rethuglican governors has made their mission to destroy, what is emerging now is the real pearl of the Walker-Koch axis:
…[the] selling of state power plants via no-bid deals with multinational corporations such as David Koch’s Koch Industries.
Turns out that the citizens of Wisconsin have invested heavily in state of the art geothermal plants that an entity like Koch Industries would love to get its greedy little mitts on, through a no bid contract, made legal the way Walker and the Rethugs wrote the budget bill, assuming that the emails and phone records and other potential evidence doesn’t reveal actual collusion.
Other revealing moments of the man behind the Walker mask suitable for an ethical indictment:
He admits his threat to send layoff notices to some 5000 to 6000 state workers by Friday was motivated by political and not economic factors.
During a part of the conservation where the fake Koch says he would be willing to hire agent provacateurs to initiate violence, the governor admits that “we thought about” that but decided against it on political grounds.
The beginning of the end?
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Jon Stewart’s take: