Did you enjoy Gov. Scott Walker’s trip to Great Britain in February?
You should have. You paid for it.
Walker’s administration disclosed on April 9 that Wisconsin taxpayers paid $138,200 for his trip to Britain — a trade mission heavy with political overtones in light of his likely 2016 presidential bid.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which organized the six-day trip, laid out the costs in response to a request from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On the trip, Walker was accompanied by several WEDC officials as well as Wisconsin business and economic development leaders. The group met with business officials in London about investing in Wisconsin. Walker also met privately with British Prime Minister David Cameron and John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Walker also appeared at Chatham House, Great Britain’s most prominent think tank, where he drew attention for sticking only to a discussion of trade and, in his words, “punting” on questions about foreign affairs and evolution.
“This is strictly related to official state business,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in a statement regarding the trip to Britain, but Patrick did not say whether the February trip had resulted in more investment or jobs in Wisconsin.
Walker also met recently with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Speaking to commentator Sean Hannity on Fox News, Walker said he had spoken to the ambassadors about President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
Do meetings of that nature sound to you like those taken by a governor … or those of a presidential candidate?
The governor left April 10 on a state-sponsored trade mission, paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers, to the cities of Hannover, Germany; Bilbao, Spain; and Montpellier, France. But he’s cutting his participation in the trip short to join other likely Republican contenders for the White House for an event this weekend in Nashua, N.H.
New Hampshire, of course, is traditionally the site of the first presidential primary. Walker was scheduled to speak Saturday at the First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit, the Boston Globe reported.
We don’t expect a Democratic Party spokesperson to be a cheerleader for a Republican governor at any time. But it doesn’t seem that Melissa Baldauff of the state Dems is that far off when she says that “since releasing his budget, Scott Walker has been seen in Wisconsin about as often as a warm sunny day.”
Gov. Walker is running for president. We know this the same way we knew it well before April 12, when former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made official what anyone paying attention had known for months. These days, you don’t have to make your aspirations official to make them obvious.
But here’s the thing: It’s been slightly more than five months since Walker stood for re-election as governor. Of Wisconsin. Even those who didn’t vote for him could have reasonably expected that he would focus his energies on Wisconsin issues in 2015. Those who voted for him surely wanted him to do just that, surely wanted him to continue leading Wisconsin as he had the preceding four years.
Two of the governor’s longtime campaign managers on Thursday announced the formation of a political action committee, a group that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. They are calling the group Unintimidated PAC, after the title of Walker’s autobiography.
The tab for Walker’s pursuit of the presidency should be picked up by the people calling themselves Unintimidated, with the unlimited fundraising, not Wisconsin’s taxpayers. Scott Walker has yet to appear on a Wisconsin ballot for the presidency, but he has for governor.