Wisconsin gov. pranked by caller posing as donor

EAU CLAIRE (WEAU) - During the prank call, Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) told a blogger about his plans to try and convince a senate Democrat to talk with him about the Budget Repair Bill.

Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) says it won't work, because it calls for a democrat to come back to Wisconsin, and she thinks the governor would then use that to get senate Republicans to pass the bill.

Senator Vinehout says her democratic colleagues have all had a chance to hear the governor's words.

“People found them deeply disturbing,” she said.

During the call, Walker talks about convincing a Democratic senate leader to come back and talk, not negotiate, with him and three other Republicans.

“They'd really like to get up back here and get it over with,” Walker said during the phone call, referring to senate Democrats. “We're trying about four or five different angles and every day we crank up a little pressure.”

On Wednesday, the governor answered reporters’ questions about the comments.

“I don't think that's a trick,” he said. “It's something I've said time and time again.”

Walker told reporters that he simply repeated what he said in his news conferences during the phone call.

Vinehout says the only way Democrats would agree to a meeting with Walker at this point, would be in Illinois.

“Clearly we can't trust him if we met in Wisconsin then he'd pull some prank...to make someone do something that they didn't intend to do,” Vinehout said.

“I tell you what, Scott,” blogger Ian Murphy said to Walker, as he posed as billionaire David Koch.
“Once you crush these (expletive), I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”

“All right, that would be outstanding,” Walker replied.

Walker says he's not going to let the prank call draw his attention away from debate over the bill, but Vinehout says senate Democrats' hope in finding what she calls a rational solution to the problem now lies with senate Republicans, not the governor.

During the call, Walker also said he's looking into whether unions are paying senate democrats while they're out of state.

Senator Vinehout says all of what the senators are spending comes out of their own pockets.

David Koch did not respond to our message seeking comment.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A prank caller pretending to be billionaire conservative businessman David Koch was able to have a lengthy conversation with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about his strategy to cripple public employee unions, the governor's office confirmed Wednesday.

On the call, Walker joked about bringing a baseball bat to a meeting with Democratic leaders, said it would "be outstanding" to be flown out to California by Koch for a good time after the battle is over, and said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country.

Audio was posted on the Buffalo Beast, a left-leaning website based in New York, and quickly spread across the Internet.

Democrats ripped Walker's comments on the call on the Assembly floor Wednesday morning, saying they had nothing to do with his assertion that legislation stripping public employees' collective bargaining rights is needed to help solve a looming budget deficit.

"That's why we must fight it! That is why people must come to the Capitol and fight this!" Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee yelled as thousands of protesters inside the rotunda roared in approval. "This isn't about balancing the budget, this is about a political war."

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie confirmed Walker took the call, which will only heighten widespread suspicions that brothers David and Charles Koch are pulling strings in Wisconsin's battle as part of a conservative agenda to limit the unions' power.

The governor's plan would take away the ability of state and local public employees to collectively bargain for working conditions, benefits, or any other than their base salaries. Unions could not collect mandatory dues and would face a vote of its members every year to stay in existence.

The plan has set off more than a week of demonstrations at the Capitol, and prompted Wisconsin Senate Democrats to flee the state to block its passage. Similar ideas are being pushed in some other states with Republican governors.

The man pretending to be Koch said, "You're the first domino."

"Yep, this is our moment," Walker said.

The brothers own Koch Industries, Inc., which is the largest privately-owned company in America and has significant operations in Wisconsin. Its political action committee gave $43,000 to Walker's campaign, and donated heavily to the Republican Governors' Association, which funded ads attacking Walker's opponent in last year's election.

The Kochs also give millions to support Americans For Prosperity, which launched a $320,000 television ad campaign in favor of Walker's legislation on Wednesday and already has a website, standwithwalker.com, where more than 60,000 have signed a petition supporting his plan.

On the call, Walker talks about speaking with Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen, one of the Democrats hiding in Illinois to stop the bill, and telling Cullen he would not budge. After Walker said he would be willing to meet with Democratic leaders, the caller said he would bring "a baseball bat." Walker laughed and responded that he had "a slugger with my name on it."

The caller suggested he was thinking about "planting some troublemakers" among the protesters, and Walker said he had thought about doing that but declined. Walker said the protests eventually would die because the media would stop covering them.

At the end of the call, the prankster says: "I'll tell you what Scott, once you crush these bastards, I'll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time."

"Alright, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward. We appreciate it and we're doing the just and right thing for the right reasons and it's all about getting our freedoms back," Walker said.

The caller: "Absolutely. And you know, we have a little bit of vested interest as well" and laughs.

"That's just it. The bottom line is, we're going to get the world movement here because it's the right thing to do."

Walker ends the call by saying, "thanks a million."

Cullen called the call an "astounding confirmation of what we've been saying for a couple weeks now."

"This bill is about the money," he said. "This bill is about destroying public employee unions."

Cullen said he felt the call "displays a level of partisanship and pettiness on the side of the governor I don't think is going to sit well with the public."

Werwie, the governor's spokesman, said the phone call "shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having."

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been lured into a conversation about his strategy to cripple public employee unions by a prank caller pretending to be a billionaire Republican donor.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie confirms the governor is on audio of the call posted Wednesday on the website of the Buffalo Beast, a left-leaning New York newspaper.

The governor believes the caller is conservative businessman David Koch. He talks about plans for layoff notices and what can be done to punish lawmakers who've left the state.

The caller suggests Walker take a baseball bat when meeting with Democrats. Walker jokes he has "a slugger with my name on it."

Brothers David and Charles Koch have given millions to support Americans For Prosperity, which has launched a $320,000 ad campaign supporting Walker.


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