In a Facebook conversation that took place shortly after Scott Walker was elected governor in January 2011, son Alex Walker called a friend who was joking with him about his father a “fag.”
“Oh your dad ran for governor? did he win?” wrote one of Alex Walker’s friends.
“Yes as a matter of fact he did fag,” Walker replied.
The younger Walker’s public use of the homophobic slur is surprising given all the negative publicity generated over Willow Palin’s homophobic rant on Facebook just several months prior, in November 2010. Palin is the daughter of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The slur is also surprising because Alex Walker and his brother Matt Walker were involved in their father’s 2010 campaign. They posted a video on YouTube instructing viewers in how to use Facebook to promote Walker’s candidacy.
Jason Burns, executive director of Equality Wisconsin, said the use of such a potentially hurtful and derogatory term by the child of a high-profile elected official is troubling.
“It’s inappropriate language whether it’s used in jest or meant to be hurtful,” Burns said. “I think it definitely goes to the values that the Walker family has been raised in. It shows a lack of sensitivity and a lack of good parental supervision.”
Burns noted that one of the first things Walker did after being elected governor was to withdraw legal support for the state’s same-sex domestic partner registry, which affords such rights as hospital visitation privileges for gay and lesbian couples.
Scott Walker’s relationship with the gay community is complex. Although he actively opposes civil rights for LGBT people, a close circle of gay friends and political appointees has surrounded him throughout his career. Two of them – Tim Russell and Brian Pierick – were arrested as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker’s staff when he served as Milwaukee County Executive.
Although Walker has insisted he’s not a target in that probe, he’s established a criminal defense fund. Only elected officials who are under investigation for violating state finance or campaign laws are permitted to establish such funds, according to Wisconsin law.
In recent weeks, Walker transferred $160,000 into the fund.
Tim Russell was a top former associate and close companion of the governor who served as Milwaukee County housing administrator under Walker. Russell was charged with three counts of theft for embezzling money from a fund intended for veterans.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm charged that Russell spent some of the stolen money on vacations in Hawaii and a Caribbean cruise with his longtime domestic partner Brian Pierick. Some of the money was also used to pay for Walker’s campaign website.
Pierick was taken into custody around the same time as Russell on unrelated charges of child enticement, based on evidence seized in the John Doe probe. Pierick was not part of Walker’s administration but campaigned on his behalf with Russell.
Prosecutors said the charges against Pierick resulted after they inadvertently discovered pornographic images of underage males on Russell’s computer. Also found were graphic text-message chats with a then 17-year-old Waukesha boy that included references to sexual “role play” between “daddies” and “sons,” according to the complaint against Pierick.
Among the usernames that Pierick and/or Russell used on pornographic fetish sites was “Walker04.”