YES, WE HAVE NO BAD ACTORS: Conservative speakers let slip coordination between Walker campaign & third-party issue groups

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

What's going on? Are some conservatives celebrating out loud about getting away with it? Even while some of those same conservatives sue to stop Wisconsin's John Doe probe that's looking into whether they tried to get away with it?

A report at on this past weekend's national Conservative Political Action Conference included the following, potentially important revelation about the genesis of Scott Walker's Act 10 union-busting law (boldfacing is mine):

Panelist Luke Hilgemann, the current Americans for Prosperity COO who formerly led the Koch-backed group’s Wisconsin efforts, told the crowd that the 2011 victory “started back in 2007 on the shores of Lake Michigan,” at a meeting of fifteen intrepid activists who’d “had enough of government overreach,” including then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Priebus, a former Wisconsin GOP head, credited the ability to pass Walker’s reforms in part to the party and Tea Party activists unifying well before the 2010 primary behind cancidates that made voters “proud to wake up” and vote... .

"Priebus" of course is Reince Priebus, now chair of the Republican National Committee. He went farther, perhaps too far, if you're a Wisconsin prosecutor looking at examples of, um, coordinated activity among groups some of which are not supposed to coordinate:

"How did we do it in Wisconsin?” [Priebus] asked Saturday morning. “The simplest way I can tell you is we had total and complete unity between the state party, quite frankly, Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party groups, the Grandsons of Liberty. The [Glenn Beck-instigated] 9/12ers were involved. It was a total and complete agreement that nobody cared who got the credit, that everyone was going to run down the tracks together.”

A couple of observations about the above:

1. If Hilgemann is to be believed, conservative poltiical action groups and presumably others among those 15 "intrepid activists" including Walker himself were plotting to go after public employee unions nearly four years before Walker in his own words "dropped the bomb," surprising unions and public alike and then jamming Act 10 through the GOP-controlled legislature -- after, that is, massive protests, plus the departure of all state Senate Democrats that briefly prevented the measure from coming to a vote.

2. More important, Americans For Prosperity is among groups believed to be the subject of the current John Doe investigation into whether such clearly political organizations illegally coordinated with the Walker campaign. Based on the Salon report, it sure sounds like Walker and the rest of that "intrepid group" of activists were pretty up close and friendly -- same-room, same-meeting friendly!

3. According to Priebus, all conservative Wisconsin interests were in "total and complete agreement." He would know, since he took a hands-on role in state election campaigning. Moreover, according to Priebus all the groups ran "down the tracks together."  That's for sure; they railroaded opponents at high speed, pouring out tremendous amounts of expensive advertising for the governorship, US Senate, the special recall elections and other races from 2010 forward.

Remember, "independent" third-party "educational" groups are not supposed to go near the campaigns of candidates for public office or strategize with them, especially candidates they indirectly support through their "non-campaign" advertising. Yeah, if I were a John Doe investigator, I'd be grabbing a complete set of the CPAC forum transcripts.