By now you’ve probably heard that Wisconsin’s union-busing governor, Scott Walker, got fooled into taking a call with a degenerate blogger posing as conservative billionaire activist David Koch. The call, which can be heard in its entirety on the Buffalo Beast website, is interesting for a few reasons. First, Walker confesses to having thought about planting trouble-makers among the peaceful protestors now occupying the State Capitol in Madison. Second, Walker seems to agree enthusiastically to the-fake-Koch-brother’s offer of flight to California to be “shown a good time,” as a kind of reward, once the unions are done away with. This is of particular interest as it’s likely Koch Industries will make a play for Wisconsin’s power utilities, once Walker privatizes them… But I’ll get to that a little later… First, though, I wanted to note Walker’s mention of Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder. Here’s that part of the transcript:
WALKER: Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night. He said he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends, and he was kidding me… He said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada, because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor. That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin.” I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.
FAKE KOCH: You’re the first domino.
WALKER: Yep. This is our moment…
It kills me that the guy posing as Koch doesn’t press Walker further on this point and others, but I don’t guess he had much time to plan before placing the call and trying to bluff his way through multiple members of Walker’s staff. And, I also don’t think he wanted to say too much and tip his hand. I would have loved to have heard if Walker and Snyder had talked about the chances of doing something similar in Michigan, though. And, more importantly, I would have loved it if the fake-Koch-brother had gotten Walker to talk about his plans for Wisconsin’s power plants.
You see, hidden in the 144-page Wisconsin budget bill, behind all the union-busting stuff, is a clause that would give the Governor the right to privatize the state’s public utilities. And, not just that, but to do so without first collecting bids. Here, with more on that, is a clip from Firedoglake:
…Andy Stern frames the debate in Wisconsin correctly as a 15-state power grab to take away worker’s rights. Under the cover of a fiscal crisis created by Wall Street and a deep economic recession, right-wing politicians in Wisconsin and elsewhere are trying to pin the blame on public employees and strip them of their bargaining rights. This is a power grab.
But this wouldn’t be a Republican power grab without some profit-taking for corporate allies, now, would it?
The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. The parts everyone is focusing on have to do with the right to collectively bargain being stripped from public sector unions (except for the unions that supported Walker running for Governor). Focusing on this misses a large part of what the bill would do. Check out this language, from the same bill:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b)…
Oh, and did I mention that the Koch brothers, who contributed $43,000 toward Walker’s campaign for governor – making them his second biggest backers – are in the power generation business? Oh, and the $43,000 they contributed directly to Koch’s campaign is just the tip of the iceberg. Here, by way of Mother Jones, are a few more of the ways the Koch brothers found to buy the election for Walker:
…According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly…
So, that should kind of explain why Walker made the time to take the call from David Koch. He owes him some utility companies.
Welcome to 2011 America, where corporations can buy elections and be paid back with public utilities.
Oh, and here, for those of you who are interested, is that call between Walker and the man he thought was David Koch…. Enjoy.