Forbes: What Is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Not Telling Us About Financial Stress Test Legislation?

April 20, 2011- On Saturday, I posted a piece here on The Policy Page entitled, “Governor Scott Walker Reportedly Planning Financial Martial Law In Wisconsin.” The article was based on allegations being made by a number of Wisconsin based individuals – most prominently, Ed Garvey, a Madison based attorney and political activist who has had a long and distinguished career on both the local and national stage – suggesting that Governor Scott Walker was possibly planning a Michigan style, financial emergency law in the State of Wisconsin.

The Michigan law in question permits the governor of that state to send emergency financial managers into a municipality when the governor deems that city or town to be in dire financial straights. Once appointed, the financial manager has enormous – possibly unconstitutional – powers (a Constitutional challenge was filed yesterday on behalf of certain Detroit Union Pension Plans) which include the legal right to push aside duly elected local officials and take over the functions of government the people elected those officials to perform.

On Monday morning, Governor Walker appeared on “ Midday With Charlie Sykes”, a conservative radio talker on WTMJ in Milwaukee, where Walker denied the story published here, suggesting that there was ‘No truth to it whatsoever. Absolutely a bogus story.”

Walker went on to very clearly state that nobody on his staff nor in his administration was involved in planning any legislation that would mimic the Michigan law or do anything suggested in my post.

While the Governor had called me out, it was what Scott Walker did not say – and what Mr. Sykes failed to ask- that caught my attention.

The Governor never said why he believes that a Michigan style financial law is wrong for his state. He simply made a technical denial by stating that nobody on his staff or administration was working on any such legislation.

It struck me as more than a little odd that these the two men would get on this subject and that the interviewer would fail to present so much as one follow up question to dig a bit further into the Governor’s thinking on the topic.

That is an issue I’ll leave to those who listen to Mr. Sykes’ program.

More importantly, it struck me as strange that the governor would not offer such an explanation. It’s fine for him to deny – but denials without explanation will always raise a few eyebrows. All he had to do was spend a little time speaking on why my story was wrong – going beyond the technical to educate Wisconsin voters on why such a law would not be something he would support.

This led me to consider that while Walker may have been technically correct in the wording of his denial – because there may or may not be a member of the Governor’s staff or administration who is dealing with these issues – that involvement could be happening somewhere else, such as in the legislative branch or in the private sector.

Thus, the hunt began for more information on who might be doing what in the Badger State.

The results have been interesting, to say the least.


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