Spendthrift Scott Walker spares no campaign expense; gets reimbursed for sub sandwiches | Wis.Community

Spendthrift Scott Walker spares no campaign expense; gets reimbursed for sub sandwiches

Dizzy yet from all of the spin about the campaign finance reports filed by candidates for governor?

One thing we can all agree on: They are raising a lot of money. After that, the analysis is up for grabs.

Scott Walker claims he had so many donors that his report caused the Government Accountability Board's online reporting system to crash. That caused the GAB to put out a statement saying Walker's claim wasn't true.

Bad group to get into a back and forth with, methinks. Who you gonna believe, a politician or the people who enforce the ethics laws?

Walker made much of the fact that he raised $1.75-million and has $2-million in the bank on Dec. 31. And -- imagine this -- he didn't owe anyone a single dollar on Dec.31, which let him hit the $2-million mark with $14,000 to spare. Why do I think there's a drawerful of unpaid invoices somewhere from vendors whose checks were written on Jan. 2?

But that's minor. The real story in Walker's report is the unmasking of Big Spender Scott.

For a guy who's running on proimises that he'll cut state spending, he isn't demonstrating much fiscal restraint in running his campaign.

Yes, the campaign raised $1.79-million in six months. But it spent almost $900,000 during that time.

Meanwhile, Tom Barrett, who got into the race in mid-November, raised $811,000 in six weeks. He spent only $70,000.

Not a fair comparison, you say, because Barrett didn't have a campaign staffed and up and running during that time, which is true. But the result was that Walker gained little ground in terms of cash on hand versus Barrett.

When the last reports filed, they showed Walker with $1.1-million in the bank and Barrett (who wasn't running for gov at the time) with $840,000. Now, Walker has $2-million and Barrett almost $1.6-million. So Walker's advantage increased by something like $150,000.

But there's another factor. Barrett has no primary. Walker does, against Mark Neumann, who reportedly is willing to make a $3-million personal investment in the race.

Walker and his GOP allies will continue to try to force Neumann out, but if he sticks, as many expect him to, Walker will be flat broke the day after the September primary, with eight weeks until the general election. That's no small consideration, but one that seems to get left out of the equation.

So, where did Walker spend his money?

Well, you can't exactly call him a spendthrift with his own money. It appears he saved every receipt and turned in reimbursement claims for every dollar he spent on a Subway sandwich -- and he ate a lot of them on the campaign trail, getting reimbursed for 15 Subway stops versus a single Culver's and one Jimmy John's -- plus the deli in Sun Valley, Idaho. He even bills his campaign $3.50 for parking in a city lot in Madison.

On the other hand, his campaign spent $2,182 on "meeting expenses" at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Madison in October. Must have been quite a meeting. No sub sandwiches there.

Walker spent more than $150,000 on what is desribed as phones and robocalls. Robocalls are just about the cheapest thing going these days. For $150,000 you could probably make something like 2.5-million of them and annoy every household in the state of Wisconsin. Somehow, I think it wasn't robocalls but telemarketing calls to raise those small donations.

He also spent something like $284,000 on direct mail fundraising, it appears. That and telemarketing is what produces those thousands of small donations.

And there's a fair amount for staff and consultants, but as someone who spent 20 years as a consultant I don't think I can criticize that.

I leave it to others who will no doubt look at where Walker's money came from.

If you're as bored as I must be, the whole Walker report is accessible as a PDF at this link. It'll take awhile to download.


February 1, 2010 - 6:11pm