Neumann has been putting the pressure on Walker a lot in the last month or so. Neumann has been using his considerable wealth by buying a lot of TV ad time around the state and is about to launch his third commercial later this week.
In response, Walker is now spending some of that pay-for-play loot he has garnered and is running his first ad. At the risk of forever ruining this fine site of mine, I will post it here:
Overall, it is an admittedly positive ad, which is refreshingly surprising considering the constant barrage negativity and smearing that has come from his campaign thus far.
JSOnline has already covered the commercial and had this to say, with a delicious but telling twist which I have emphasized for you:
You would think with all the people that Walker has shipped in from all over the country to help run his campaign, he would have at least mentioned what he was running for. Maybe he isn't running anymore but just wanted people to know he is a cheapskate (except when it comes to his home and his swimming pool).
Walker's ad, shot in his Wauwatosa home, says he returned $370,000 to taxpayers over eight years. It casts him as frugal and directs voters to BrownBagMovement.com, a site that touts his fiscal tightness by mentioning he packs his own lunch every day.
The full pay for Walker's job is $129,611 a year. He returned $60,000 annually in the years following his 2002 election, but scaled that back to $10,000 a year after his April 2008 re-election - a change that prompted criticism Wednesday from Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
"Scott Walker promised to give back 47 percent of his pay and then broke that promise in each of the last two years," Tate said in a statement. "He also makes noises about working for the people who eat their lunches out of brown bags, while the tax cuts he proposes would benefit only the richest one percent of Wisconsinites."
Walker's ad does not mention he's running for governor. Keith Gilkes, Walker's campaign manager, said voters will be well aware of what office he is running for by fall.
While that is a humorous diversion, that is not what raised a red flag for me. What did set off the alarms was the whole premise of the commercial. Namely, the claim that Walker gave back all that money to Milwaukee County.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever bothered to actually check to see if Walker is really returning the money. But for the sake of argument, let us say he has done as he claims (which in itself would be a rarity).
That still leaves two issues.
One, it does not jive with what Walker had promised to do. When he originally ran for county executive, Walker promised to cut his salary:
Voluntarily reduce own salary to $78,850, within 30 daysAnd in case you might think that this was just the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's interpretation of his promise, I was able to get a screencap of Walker's old campaign web site, via the Wayback Machine:
Obviously, since Walker's salary is still $129,611, he has not reduced his salary.
Now, I can just hear the Walker apologists yammering that he gave the money back, so it doesn't really matter that he didn't keep his promise. But they would be wrong.
It matters because of the County's pension system.
Throughout the State of Wisconsin, there is an agreement that if a person transfers from one government body to another, their time served in the first government counts for purposes of time of public service. For example, if a person worked for Washington County for ten years and then took a job in Milwaukee County, those ten years would count towards figuring that person's pension. The same goes for people changing levels of government, such as the state to a county. I also made a few quick calls tonight and was able to confirm that it also applies to elected officials.
So technically, Walker became eligible for Milwaukee County's pension the minute he took office in 2002. He is also eligible for the 2% rate, so that if Walker were to retire before the end of the 2010, his pension would be 2% times 17 years times his salary, or roughly $44,200 a year. (And I won't even get into the nagging question of whether Walker ever signed a legally binding pension waiver. I don't even want to think about that right now.)
Compare that to the average county worker, who Walker loves to vilify and continuously hammer over the same pension system that he is going to be so richly rewarded by. According to a recent audit done by the County, 70% of current county retirees are receiving less than $23,000 a year, and the average pension for a worker who served 30 years with Milwaukee County is $28,000.
No wonder Walker wasn't too concerned about meeting another one of his campaign promises. Namely, the one where he promised to fix the pension mess that got him swept into office.
There is one thing I would just love to see Walker do. Since he is so willing to stick Milwaukee County workers and elected officials with a reduced pension multiplier, will he make a promise to do the same thing with the state's pension system, which is also currently at 2%? Because if he doesn't think the same thing should happen at the state level, it does make it seem that all of his talk of frugality is nothing more than his usual empty campaign rhetoric.
And wouldn't it be be fun to see how all of the elected officials from all over the state who have already endorsed him react to that campaign promise?