Not-so-frugal recall winner Scott Walker resumes jetting to points afar | Wis.Community

Not-so-frugal recall winner Scott Walker resumes jetting to points afar

[img_assist|nid=46026|title=Air campaign|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=226|height=151]Fresh from making nice with Democrats, "rock star" Scott Walker was hamming it up for Beltway national media in D.C. yesterday and today, advising Mitt Romney on how to be a better GOP presidential candidate and telling a largely partisan crowd at the US Chamber of Commerce that public employee benefits like health care and pensions are a "virus."

But that's just the "old" Walker being himself again after a brat and beer diversion at the governor's mansion. Nothing to see here, at least if you're looking for signs of any lasting transformation into Gov. Bring Us Together.

But there is one nagging question: If the state is in such dicey economic shape, why is this putative fiscal conservative jetting around the country again so soon, after being outside the state for a good chunk of the last quarter on "personal" time, raising the tens of millions of campaign dollars that helped ensure his survival in office?

And who is tracking all this? The press and third-party groups like One Wisconsin Now no doubt will at some point again look at travel expenditures for the governor's office, as they have in the past. The last time anyone did look -- it was the Wausau Daily Herald, pre-recall -- we learned that Walker had spent about as much as his predecessor, Jim Doyle, on official travel paid for by state taxpayers.

The difference: Doyle's travels were heavily criticized both by Republicans and media pundits as excessive and not well documented, and the fracas even figured in a decision by state government to sell off some of its small fleet of light aircraft. But Walker's similar travel load? Ho hum. And since the Herald's look at his travel spending, Walker's been flitting about even more. 

How much of Walker's travels leading up to the recall were paid for by his campaign, and how much by you and me? No one knows, yet. It's pretty clear his multi-day trip to D.C. this week is going to come from tax dollars, because his staff insisted it wasn't a campaign trip.

You expect, to a certain extent, that elected officials at the level of governor will flit around the state to cut ribbons at new businesses and pose for holy pictures with local burghers. And you expect that often they will try to book a couple of minutes talking about state law or something so they can call the trip "official" and thus bill the taxpayers for all the media exposure and glad-handing. 

But zooming off to other states or D.C. to bask in the spotlights doesn't do diddly for Wisconsin's ability to create jobs or educate its kids or fix its roads or protect the environment or ensure that poor children and seniors and the disabled have affordable health care. Indeed, in Walker's case, you have a governor who flies 800 miles one way pretty much just to tell reporters there he'll resist the federal health care reform law even if the Supreme Court affirms it. 

Couldn't he have done that from his well-appointed, well-equipped office in the state Capitol's East Wing for a lot less outlay in time and money? Sure, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun. What's next? Bombing around Times Square on his Harley? Responsible adults want to know. And we'd like it if news reporters covering these sorties would try to ask the governor's attending staff how much the trip is costing and who's getting stuck with the bill.


June 14, 2012 - 8:47pm