A fourth former member of Scott Walker’s cabinet has condemned him publicly for lacking integrity and placing his political ambitions above the interests of the state.
Republican Paul Jadin is a former mayor of Green Bay and was the first secretary of Walker’s scandal-plagued economic development agency, commonly known as WEDC. Jadin’s signature appeared today on an open letter slamming Walker’s unethical, self-serving behavior and his mismanagement of the state, particularly his handling of education, transportation and safety issues.
The letter was also signed by Walker’s Corrections Secretary Ed Wall and his former Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten. All three Republican said they’re backing Democrat Tony Evers for governor.
Former Transportation Department Secretary Mark Gottlieb also has been critical of Walker, but he did not sign the letter and has not publicly endorsed Evers. A Republican Assembly leader before joining Walker’s administration in 2011, Gottlieb recently said Walker was “not truthful” and “increasingly inaccurate” in comments about transportation funding.
In their letter, Jadin, Wall and Bildsten wrote, “Gov. Walker has consistently eschewed sound management practices in favor of schemes or coverup and has routinely put his future ahead of the state. The result is micromanagement, manipulation and mischief. We have all been witness to more than our share of this.”
The three former officials wrote they had believed in Walker’s agenda when they began working for his administration, but had become disillusioned. They said during Walker’s run for president in 2015, he sacrificed Wisconsin’s interests to his political strategy in the early-voting primary states Iowa and New Hampshire.
Walker was the first Republican to drop out of the race, due to his inability to manage his campaign budget, even though at one point he led with fundraising. It took two years for Walker to pay off his $1.2 million campaign debt, which he finally accomplished by selling off his donor list.
In his book Unethical, former Wisconsin prisons secretary Ed Wall wrote that Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel drove him to the b…
'Manipulation and mischief'
While Jadin, Wall and Bildsten didn’t elaborate on Walker’s “manipulation and mischief,” Democrats for years have complained about his “pay-for-play” dealings with his financial donors and his “dictatorial,” Trump-like management style.
Walker has centralized power in the governor’s office to an alarming degree, drastically reducing the ability of municipalities and local governments to make taxing and spending decisions. He slashed state tax revenues that are shared with local governments, choosing instead to spend the money on tax breaks for the state’s wealthiest Republican donors and their businesses.
Many Republican officials have criticized Walker, although until now very few have spoken out publicly for fear of his well-documented penchant for retribution.
Wall went so far as to write a tell-all book about his experiences as a member of Walker’s cabinet. In the book Unethical, the former Wisconsin prisons secretary wrote that Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel drove him to the brink of suicide by ignoring problems at the state’s troubled youth prison and then making him the fall guy when the press caught wind of the abusive conditions at Lincoln Hills Youth Prison.
Many political observers on both sides of the aisle have complained about Walker’s handling of WEDC. The agency was supposed to award financial support to companies in exchange for job creation in the state, but it failed to track the number of jobs that its awardees created and retained. A 2017 report by the Legislative Audit Bureau found that WEDC had handed out nearly $10 million in bad loans over the prior two years and had failed to turn over millions in tax credit repayments to the state.
Not only had WEDC failed to recover loans made to troubled companies, it gave out $126 million without a formal review. Millions of taxpayer dollars disappeared through WEDC and have never been accounted for, even as Walker slashed spending on education and health care because he said the state couldn’t afford the expenditures.
Following the bureau’s audit, Walker tried to shut it down, claiming that it was partisan because its findings cast him in a negative light. He has succeeded in terminating other non-partisan bureaus that issued reports that were critical of his administration.
By packing the Supreme Court with judges loyal to him, Walker was able to change state election law retroactively to protect himself from prosecution for illegally coordinating his campaign with supporting super PACs. Federal law prohibits such coordination, as do all the other states, except for Florida.