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Same Stuff, Different Election Campaign

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on March 17, 2010

The AP did some real journalism and found that Scott Walker’s Brown Bag Movement isn’t an original idea. In fact, Mr. Frugality spent some $336,000 dollars for these recycled bags:

Both Walker and Voinovich’s fundraising letters, signed by the candidates’ wives and mailed in a brown bag, were devised by the same New Hampshire-based direct mail consulting firm, SCM Associates. Voinovich’s brown bag letter, used in his first race for U.S. Senate in 1998, netted SCM an American Association of Political Consultants’ Pollie Award that year for best campaign fundraiser.

SCM isn’t running from the fact that it came up with both campaigns. It even bragged about it on its Facebook page in a Feb. 26 posting: “Brown bag movement takes off in Wisconsin. Our client, Scott Walker, running for Governor starts a movement based on an SCM Associates mailing. But Walker is the real deal, he brown bags two ham and cheese sandwiches on wheat every day.”

Staying true to their nature, Team Walker then tries to spin their way out of this by doing what they do best – lying:

Walker campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader said the brown bag theme idea for Walker didn’t come from SCM but was devised during a brainstorming session with campaign staff in Wisconsin. Bader said when the campaign discussed its ideas with direct mailer SCM, the firm mentioned it had done a similar ad for Voinovich.

She said the campaign was looking for ways to express to voters how fiscally conservative Walker is and settled on the brown bag image.

“It touched people because it was incredibly genuine,” she said. “Scott is the person who he says he is.”

This fine piece of investigative journalism stems from another fine piece which showed that Team Walker wasn’t exactly telling the truth about his frugality. Despite the Walker apologists who claim that Walker’s claim is that he would be frugal with the tax payers money and not his own, that is not in sync with the brown bag mailer that my wife had gotten months ago or with his whole premise that he would spend our money like it was his own.

If that was true, where Walker spent big bucks on his house with the giant cement pond, then the County wouldn’t have a crumbling infrastructure or have its parks and pools in such disrepair. Not only that, but I and my fellow county workers would get a 40% raise like the one he gave himself.

The original AP story showed that Walker was quite the spendthrift with his campaign finances:

But campaign finance records show Walker’s campaign had no problem affording multiple meals for the candidate, his aides, their supporters and others at restaurants and events across the state.

Walker campaign spokeswoman Jill Bader broadly defended the campaign’s spending as appropriate and denied any hypocrisy. At the same time, she would not answer questions about specific bills, such as why the campaign spent $2,182 for “meeting expenses” at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Middleton in October or $805 at Timmer’s in West Bend the same month.

The campaign rang up bills of $244 at the Bay City Smokehouse in Green Bay, $230 and $193 at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Greenfield, $230 at the Capital Grille in Washington, D.C., and $149 at the Waterfront in La Crosse, among others. The campaign also paid bills of more than $30 apiece seven times at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee.

The campaign also paid for Walker’s meals at Subway locations 15 times in a four-month span, and spent a total of $1,070 at Johnny V’s Classic Cafe in West Allis over 30 separate occasions, records show.

As a friend had pointed out, “Why would a race for Wisconsin’s governor go through the Capital Grille in Washington, D.C.?”

But sad to say, this is not the only time Walker has used recycled material and recycled hypocrisy.

The whole “Believe in Wisconsin” meme is also recycled, at least a couple of times.

In 1998, when Walker was running for his third term as county executive (even though he promised he wasn’t going to) his campaign meme was “I believe in Scott Walker.” Remember this commercial?:

It tuns out that his “I believe in Scott Walker” meme was a remake of Mayor John Norquist’s “I believe in Milwaukee” campaign:

In the wake of the new TV ad from Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, with a mantra of “I believe in Milwaukee,” a longtime political observer notes the ad picks up a theme used in past local political campaigns, including the 2000 re-election campaign of then-Mayor John O. Norquist.

That race, in which Norquist won a fourth term over downtown businessman George Watts, included a “We believe in Milwaukee” theme in TV ads and campaign literature.

It should also be noted that Walker’s then campaign manager, Tim Russell, who is now Walker’s Assistant Chief of Staff (and former Economic Development Director, between campaigns), said that the people in Walker’s commercial were “real people.”

Well, they were. They were real actors portraying real people, as Bill Christofferson pointed out, catching that at least one of the actors had appeared in another commercial (TV spot #2).

This, of course, makes one wonder about those “real people” that appear on Walker’s campaign web site and if they are also paid talent.

One thing is for certain. Whether you are talking about Walker’s recycling of other people’s campaigns, his hypocrisy or his overall dishonesty, you have to give him a certain amount of credit…he sure is consistent at it.


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