The liberal One Wisconsin Now is knocking Gov. Scott Walker for his “misuse and abuse” of taxpayer-funded flights on the state plane in the two-and-a-half years after his failed presidential bid came to a close.
Public records the group released today showed that between September 2015 and April 2018, Walker took 869 flights on state planes totaling 114,390 miles at a cost of $818,497 to taxpayers. That includes 27 flights that were less than 40 miles, according to a database OWN compiled.
“After 25 years in office and $100 million raised and spent as a political candidate in his run for governor, it’s very clear that Scott Walker will say and do anything to get elected,” Executive Director Scot Ross said at a Capitol news conference this morning. “And I think we have to add something to that: Scott Walker will say, do and spend anything to get elected.”
But Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg countered the group’s charge amounted to “a gross mischaracterization of Governor Walker’s dedication to visiting with the people of Wisconsin.”
“Governor Walker has shown an unparalleled level of commitment in supporting, listening to, and meeting with hard working families in every corner of the state,” she said.
In all, OWN noted Walker had spent about $825,258 on state plane flights over the period and reimbursed the state $6,761 for four trips — one in July 2016 and the remaining three in October, November and December 2017. A DOA spokesman said the Walker campaign paid back the state for the travel costs.
The group also highlighted a number of flights during the news conference today, including a May 2017 trip from Madison to West Bend — around 64 miles — to attend a “Walk With Walker” event; and a February 2016 entry where a state plane picked Walker up in Milwaukee to attend an NRA conference in Wausau.
Walker’s office noted the guv stopped at the NRA conference to sign legislation, and the West Bend trip included other stops, ranging from a workforce development event to a meeting with students at a high school.
Walker’s frequent flights first became a point of controversy during his 2014 re-election campaign. Taxpayer-funded air travel has been a sticking point for previous governors, including both Democrat Jim Doyle and Republican Scott McCallum, whose trip from Madison to Janesville in 2002 drew ire from some Dems.
A WisPolitics.com check of state records earlier this spring show the guv’s spending on flights in 2017 was his highest since taking office. It also found Walker and his cabinet spent $391,372 on state plane use across Wisconsin and the nation in 2017, compared to $190,016 in 2015 when Walker was running for president.
For comparison, Doyle and his cabinet’s flights totaled $208,000 in 2010 and nearly $240,000 in 2009, according to previous WisPolitics.com reports.
See the OWN release here.
See a WisEye video of the news conference here.
See the April story from WisPolitics.com here.