By Lynda L. Jones
County executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has failed to act regarding the controversy that has developed regarding the actions of at least two staffers associated with his campaign.
On Monday, Aug. 16, while the president was in Milwaukee, Jill Bader, a spokesperson for Walker re-tweeted a message from Michael Brickman, who identifies himself as “working in communications for Walker” of predominately African Americans dancing in a ‘soul train’ line and dancing to a song, ‘Come on ride it (the train)’, and then linked it to a YouTube video, referring to it as President Obama’s response to Walker’s new anti-high speed rail campaign focus.
When the Wisconsin Democratic Black Caucus and the Wisconsin Democratic Party responded immediately and descended on Walker’s campaign’s racially-tinged re-tweet, it was deleted and the explanation given in summation was, ‘oh, it was an innocent mistake…’ The official statement issued from the campaign manager from Walker’s headquarters in Wauwatosa was; “An honest mistake was made by a staffer that forwarded a message from a blogger that linked to a video rather than a blog post. When it was brought to our attention, she immediately removed the message and apologized to anyone that was offended by it.”
Mayor Tom Barrett reportedly said in response to these actions, if it had been a member of his campaign staff, that someone would lose their job.
“I think they compounded matters by saying it was an accident. You don’t have two people, two high-ranking people in your campaign, send out the same tweet, and say it was an accident. Because it wasn’t an accident.” Barrett said.
“This conduct and the content involved is no minor matter. Scott Walker is running to be governor of all Wisconsinites, no matter their race, color or creed. If he hopes to score a few cheap political points by calculated defiance of our state’s deep tradition of tolerance, then we are obligated to call attention to his craven behavior. Any candidate who stands deliberately silent on matters so incendiary as race is not fit to lead. Shame on Scott Walker.” Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Mike Tate said at a press conference held outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Tuesday.
Also present at the press conference were State Senator Lena Taylor, who has experienced the Walker campaign tactics first hand as his opponent when he ran and was re-elected as County executive.
“(It) was tasteless, was inappropriate, and at the very least, was not the caliber of something you would expect for someone who is running for governor,” Taylor stated.
Taylor also stated that what would be the right thing for Walker to do is to give an honest accounting for his campaign’s actions, and not one that hides behind blatant falsehoods. No one is buying the “honest mistake”
Taylor said that she sees Walker’s failure to act on this controversy demonstrates a lack of ability to effectively lead, it is his responsibility to hold himself and his campaign accountable, and his failure in doing so doesn’t make for the right credentials to become the leader of a state.
State Representative Jon Richards also agreed with Taylor and her summation of Walker’s lack of leadership ability.
“Being a leader requires accountability and for too long we have watched Scott Walker duck the consequences of his actions.”
Richards continued, “When he raises taxes every year, he blames the county board. When mentally disabled people were put in harm’s way because of his policies at Behavioral Health Division, he passed the buck to low-level administrators. When he cut funding for building inspections, and those buildings began to crumble, he blamed chance. Now, we have ugly examples of -at best- racially insensitive communications coming from his campaign and, once again, we hear silence.”
It was reported that Walker went on the radio in Madison, and in addressing the controversy, he pretty much repeated the official statement. It was a innocent mistake… He hasn’t addressed the issue at all in Milwaukee, where the majority of African Americans live in the state, and where the president was visiting.
Jill Bader was named as “Worst Person” on Monday, Aug. 16 on the MSNBC:Countdown with Keith Obermann show, a nationally syndicated program for what Obermann referred to as her ‘taking a jab at Obama’. “Jill Bader, communications director for the Walker campaign in Wisconsin- today’s worst person in the world.” Keith Obermann show.
County Board chair Lee Holloway weighed in on the controversy:
“It’s unfortunate that the decision was made to publicly connect a Soul Train video with the proposed high-speed rail line. The video was not appropriate in this context and demonstrates that some of the staff members working for Scott Walker are naïve and unsophisticated. This behavior also diminishes the importance of public transportation in our community.
“As Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board, it is my duty to denounce actions that reflect poorly on Milwaukee County. I expect Scott Walker to immediately issue a public apology for the behavior of his political staffers. He should personally admit that this was a mistake so we can all move on to more pressing issues facing Milwaukee County.”
And still no action from Scott Walker.