John @NicholsUprising: #ScottWalker is the #Kochs’ model governor

October 21, 2014 6:45 am

Scott Walker is a model governor.

Not in every sense, as critics of the Wisconsin Republican’s anti-labor extremism, ethical lapses and failed experiments with economic austerity will remind you. But he is certainly a model governor in the eyes of billionaire conservative donors David and Charles Koch and their acolytes. This reality has led 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidates who seek the billionaire blessing — so essential for conservative politicians in state races — to make reverential references to Walker when appealing to the Koch brothers.

Secret tapes of a June summit of wealthy donors organized by the Kochs reveal that top Republican gubernatorial prospects — including Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts and Arizona’s Doug Ducey — appeared before the group, as did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a cavalcade of right-wing Senate candidates that included Iowan Joni Ernst, Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton and Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner. All were solicitous. But few were so blunt as Ducey, a wealthy former business executive who thanked the Kochs directly while declaring, “I have been coming to this conference for years. It’s been very inspirational.”

Ducey did not stop there.

On the tape, which was obtained by The Undercurrent and shared exclusively with The Nation, he made it clear that he is all about lining up with Walker: “So uh, in this business, you’re known by the company you keep, and uh, we’re proud that we’re off to a fast start. Uh, we’re proud that Governor Scott Walker from Wisconsin has come out and endorsed our campaign.”

Walker endorsed two candidates in seriously contested Republican primaries for governorships this year. Both of them appeared at the Koch brothers session in June: Arizona’s Ducey and Nebraska’s Ricketts. Like Ducey, Ricketts raves about Walker and has hailed the Wisconsin governor as “a true leader in the Republican Party” because he “stood up to the big government union bosses.”

Ducey and Ricketts are well aware that Walker did not stand alone.

Walker has, since his 2010 gubernatorial run, been a top recipient of campaign contributions from the Kochs, and a beneficiary of the “independent” campaigns of Koch-fueled groups such as Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-Walker connection runs deep. “We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” David Koch said when Walker faced a recall election in 2012. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”

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