One Wisconsin Now: Scott Walker scheme to use state airplane to film campaign ad similar to incident in which former GOP Governor McCallum was investigated by Wisconsin ethics board

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Mike Browne, Deputy Director
McCallum Reimbursed Taxpayers, Why Won’t Walker?

MADISON, Wis. — As part of a settlement to end a Wisconsin Ethics Board investigation in 2003 former Gov. Scott McCallum reimbursed the state for using a state airplane for personal purposes, even though the usage occurred concurrent with a public event. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted the circumstances of the McCallum settlement parallel Gov. Scott Walker’s illegal use of a state plane to travel to Northern Wisconsin to film a television ad for his campaign.

“Wisconsin law is clear, governors can’t use public resources to benefit themselves or their campaigns,” said Ross. “The Ethics Board didn’t buy former Gov. McCallum’s excuses when he tried to fly a state plane for personal reasons. Now Scott Walker is trying to get away with the same scheme to benefit his campaign.”

Evidence obtained by One Wisconsin Now as part of their investigation of Scott Walker’s serial misuse and abuse of state planes reveals how Walker scheduled a public event in Rhinelander weeks after his campaign lined up an ad shoot in the area for the same day. Walker is refusing to reimburse taxpayers the $2,017.66 bill they footed for the flight because of the public event.

In 2003, it was reported:

“Former Gov. Scott McCallum has reimbursed the state $13,000 for using a state airplane to bring himself and his son back from a Colorado soccer tournament … The payments were part of a settlement McCallum negotiated with the board to end a seven-month investigation into his use of state airplanes …”

The story goes on to note:

“McCallum said he considered the trip state business because he visited a social organization called Focus on the Family during the tournament. But the board said it found McCallum had reserved a hotel room in Colorado Springs more than a month before his staff set up the Focus on the Family visit. “Governor McCallum’s visit with Focus on the Family was an afterthought,” according to the board’s findings.”

The details of Walker’s attempt to schedule a public event to cover for his use of the state plane to fly to Northern Wisconsin on July 17 to film a tv ad for his campaign are eerily similar.

In response to an open records request from One Wisconsin Now, Nicolet Technical college provided an email in which a staff member wrote, on July 11, they were “… contacted by the governor’s office today about the possibility of Gov. Walker visiting Nicolet next Tuesday, July 17th from 10:15 – 11:15 am. He will be in the Rhinelander area for another scheduled event …” That previously scheduled event was filming tv ads for his campaign in nearby Three Lakes.

The Three Lakes School District, where Walker filmed his ad, confirmed that the Governor’s representatives reached out to the district to schedule the campaign ad shoot the third week of June, well before they scheduled a public event.

Walker has also made ample use of state planes for his personal convenience, including dispatching a state plane to come to pick him up in Milwaukee so he could get a haircut and attend the funeral of a major campaign donor before going to an NRA political rally. On another occasion he flew to funeral in Green Bay on a Saturday so he could return to Madison in time to attend a football game.

Ross concluded, “Fifteen years ago ethics watchdogs busted former Gov. Scott McCallum scheduling a public event to cover up his using the state plane for his personal benefit. Scott Walker using the state plane for personal, campaign purposes is as illegal now as it was when Scott McCallum was sanctioned for what he did.”

An accounting of Walker’s use of taxpayers funded state airplanes is available at onewi.org/ScottWalkerAIR.

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