Why Did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Take a Call from 'David Koch'?
Knickerbocker, Brad, The Christian Science Monitor
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thought he was having a friendly chat with David Koch, a billionaire industrialist and major funder of conservative causes. It turned out to be a liberal prankster.
Who are billionaire brothers George and David Koch, and why did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker take a call from "David Koch" - actually a liberal prankster - who recorded a conversation that may prove embarrassing to Governor Walker?
The Kochs are one of the major business forces fighting unions. A big part of their effort has been funding the campaigns of conservative, union-fighting gubernatorial candidates like Walker, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Perry in Texas - to the tune of $1.2 million in the last election, including donations from company employees and subsidiaries.
Collectively, the Koch group was Walker's second-largest contributor last year, just behind realtor and developer interests. They've also founded and are major funders of the tea party-related "Americans for Prosperity," which just launched a $342,200 ad campaign in support of Walker.
IN PICTURES: Wisconsin capitol protests
Walker's 20-minute conversation with someone he thought was a top campaign donor with a strong philosophical and financial interest in fighting unions may be an embarrassment to the new Wisconsin governor. (Did he really mean it when he said he'd "thought about" hiring outside agitators to disrupt pro-union demonstrators who've packed the Capitol building in Madison for more than a week? Or when he joked about taking a baseball bat to his political opponents?)
Walker's talk with "David Koch" - actually Ian Murphy, editor of BuffaloBeast.com - is certainly a distraction as he tries to stare down minority Democratic lawmakers hiding out across the state line in order to avoid a vote on Walker's bill to fix what he calls the state's budgetary crisis. And it's "suspicions confirmed" for critics who charge that the governor's agenda goes well beyond budget reform to union busting.
But did that friendly chat with the man he thought was David Koch break or skirt laws having to do with campaign finance and special favors for political allies?
"If Wisconsin law forbids coordination with political donors similar to federal law, Gov. Scott Walker is not just in political trouble, but in legal hot water," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for the Public Campaign Action Fund, in a statement.
To raise the question itself is political. The Public Campaign Action Fund's major donors are public employee unions and the liberal group MoveOn.org. Also, pro-union and other liberal causes certainly have their financial angels as well - billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, for example. …