Monday, March 30, 2015

Scott Walker-- Serial Flip-Flopper


by Zach Wisniewski

Throughout his career in politics-- a career that has spanned virtually his entire adult life-- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has tried to portray himself as a man of principles who can't and won't be intimidated by standing up for what he believes. In fact, Gov. Walker is so desperate to convince folks outside Wisconsin that's he's got the mettle necessary to be president of the United States that he titled his ghostwritten memoir Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge. However, while Scott Walker wants us all to believe he's an unintimidated leader with steel in his spine, the fact is he's a political opportunist who's had almost as accomplished a career as a flip-flopper as former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Recent revelations showing that Gov. Walker has completely changed his position on immigration reform were certainly newsworthy, but it's absolutely not the first time he has flip-flopped a position when it suited his political ambitions. As noted in Todd Milewski's report for Madison's Cap Times, Gov. Walker is now opposed to the same amnesty programs he supported just two years ago when he supported a path to legal citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States. Here he is admitting his flip-flop to Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace during a recent appearance on that show.
Wallace: But it's a little bit slippery here. Back when you were the Milwaukee County Executive, you actually supported the Kennedy-McCain comprehensive immigration plan. Are you basically saying that as part of a comprehensive plan, tough enforcement, E-Verify, the 11 million people already here pay penalty, they get citizenship?
Walker: No, I'm not talking about amnesty. And the reason for that is, over time...
Wallace: But you said you supported it.
Walker: And my view has changed. I'm flat-out saying it. Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don't. I'm saying my view has...
Wallace: So you've changed from 2013?
Walker: Absolutely.
While Gov. Walker's flip-flop on immigration reform is the most recent example of his willingness to change his beliefs to further his political ambitions, it's certainly not the only example. In fact, Scott Walker has made a career out of changing his beliefs when it benefits his political ambitions most.

With that in mind, let's take a look at just a few of Scott Walker's most blatant flip-flops during his career as a politician.

Scott Walker's Flip-Flop on Contributions From the Gaming Industry

As reported by Josh Israel of ThinkProgress, back in 1999, then-State Representative Scott Walker issued a press release calling for a ban on political contributions by gambling interests, who Walker felt held too much sway over the election of Democratic governors in other states. Here's an excerpt from Walker's press release.

We have witnessed problems with gambling contributions at the federal level and in other states, Walker told his colleagues at a September committee hearing on the 1999 version of the bill. With gambling interests seeking to expand all across Wisconsin, he urged, "We must act now before problems evolve in this state. Our measure will act as a protection against corruption here in Wisconsin."
Fast-forward just 13 years and Gov. Scott Walker seemed to have no problem accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated $250,000 to Gov. Walker's recall campaign. What's more, Adelson made a $650,000 gift to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. While Sheldon Adelson is by far the largest gaming-related donor to Scott Walker's campaign, he's not alone. As the ThinkProgress report noted, Gov. Walker has taken thousands of dollars from other individuals and groups with ties to the gaming industry.
A ThinkProgress review of Walker's other donors found he also received $9,000 from the Forest County Potawatomi Community (a Native American tribe that operates a Milwaukee casino). Walker got $5,000 from Wild Rose Entertainment chairman Gerald M. Kirke and $3,000 from vice chairman Michael J. Richards (their company operates two casinos in Iowa). And Peter M. Carlino, chairman of Penn National Gaming, also contributed $1,000 to Walker in 2012.
In January, Walker rejected a proposed Menominee tribal casino, in a move that reportedly benefited the Potawatomi tribe.

Scott Walker's Flip-Flop on Outsourcing of Jobs to Foreign Countries 

During the 2012 presidential campaign Gov. Walker shared his thoughts about what he thought of President Barack Obama's attacks on his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, over the issue of outsourcing. At the time, Gov. Walker was unambiguous that he felt President Obama was attacking Romney on outsourcing to distract voters from President Obama's poor job performance, saying, "The president's team desperately does not want to run on his record, so they are desperately trying to have it about anything other than his record." However, during his own 2014 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, Gov. Walker's campaign ran a number of ads attacking Mary Burke for supposedly profiting from outsourcing done by Trek. There's a certain amount of irony in Gov. Walker's attacks on Mary Burke for outsourcing, given that Gov. Walker's own job creation agency gave millions in tax dollars to companies that sent Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries.

Scott Walker's Flip-Flop on Federal Stimulus Dollars 

In 2009, then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said "Thanks but no thanks" to any federal economic stimulus money for county projects, saying the only federal economic stimuli he endorsed were tax cuts. However, just two short years later, then-Gov. Walker asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate four Wisconsin counties as disaster areas due to crop losses caused in part by unseasonably cold, wet weather. While it's a fair point to note that federal stimulus dollars aren't exactly the same thing as federal disaster relief dollars, I'd argue that the federal stimulus dollars Scott Walker refused for Milwaukee County were absolutely a federal response to a disaster, albeit a nontraditional disaster, in the form of the "great recession" that began under Republican President George W. Bush. Scott Walker's refusal in 2009 to take federal stimulus dollars on behalf of the citizens of Milwaukee County was likely due to his desire to further bolster his conservative credentials to augment his chances heading into the 2010 gubernatorial race here in Wisconsin at the expense of the Milwaukee County citizens he was elected to represent.

These are but four examples of how Scott Walker has completely reversed his stated beliefs when it benefits him or his political ambitions, but there are many more flip-flops and reversals to be found littered throughout his career as a politician. In the interest of keeping this post to a manageable length, I've decided to break his flip-flops into a series of posts, so there will absolutely be more to come in the very near future. Until then, enjoy!


with "Is Scott Walker The Principled Leader Republican Voters Hope To Contrast With Clinton?"

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