Gov. Scott Walker and his tea party acolytes despise government (even though Walker’s worked in it nearly his entire career). They preach that government is inherently tyrannical, wasteful, inefficient and corrupt. Their overriding agenda is to eliminate as many government agencies and regulations as possible and turn public functions — from school systems to prison systems to sewage systems — over to for-profit corporations.
The competition of the marketplace, they argue, forces private enterprise into delivering superior service at a better price than government does.
But apparently government does serve one purpose: rewarding Walker’s cronies. The latest example is his hiring of longtime aide Cindy Archer as chief information technology officer for the state public defender board, a job she never even applied for. To top it off, Archer was given a salary of $113,459 per year — that’s 31-percent higher than her predecessor’s.
Seven people made it through the regular process of applying for the position — submitting resumes, filling out elaborate government application forms, providing references, etc. The board chose two of them as finalists.
But despite the hard work and hope those applicants might have put into applying for the position — and no matter how qualified they were for it — they never had a chance.
That’s because government, like the private sector, often hires not the best and brightest, but rather the best connected.
The Archer case is particularly egregious. She was part of Walker’s inner circle when he served as Milwaukee county executive, and she was part of the first John Doe probe. The probe looked into a secret wireless network set up in Walker’s county office that his staff used to work on his gubernatorial campaign while on the county’s dime — without leaving behind a public record of their activity.
FBI agents raided Archer’s home in 2011 as part of the now-closed probe. The investigation led to six convictions, but neither Archer nor Walker was charged with any wrongdoing.
Since then, Walker has kept Archer on his payroll, leaving himself open to criticism that he’s been buying her silence. Certainly she’s in a position to know where all the skeletons from Walker’s Milwaukee County days are buried.
Unabashed cronyism has been one of the most distinguishing features of Walker’s gubernatorial term. In May, we reported that the University of Wisconsin System had hired Walker’s controversial longtime associate Jim Villa to serve as vice president for university relations, a new post that appears to have been created expressly for him. Villa, whose professional background is in real estate, has been extensively involved in Walker’s campaigns and has no reported background in higher education. Yet he now earns $178,000 per year to oversee the university system’s lobbying and public relations efforts.
Walker’s most egregious act of cronyism was giving a $81,000 job overseeing environmental and regulatory matters for the Department of Commerce to the son of one of his donors. Not only was Brian Deschane, who was in his mid-20s, unqualified for the job, he had no college degree and two drunken-driving convictions.
Ironically, for those who want to discredit government, Walker is a dream come true.