Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Designer Bags Vs. Brown Paper Bags

Remember the brown paper bags that Scott Walker made as a symbol of his gubernatorial campaign? How he portrayed himself as a down to earth guy that still packed his own lunch to show how frugal he was? He also used his old Saturn, which he probably hasn't driven since making that commercial, to show that he was just like us.  He even got his wife, Tonette, into the act, doing commercials and putting her name to campaign literature vowing that her husband really was just another working stiff.

Do you remember all that? Well, the Walker's apparently don't.

In a story published today, Dan Bice tells of the Walkers' latest escapade - one that simply demands mockery - which is a fund-raising scheme allegedly to clean up and restore the governor's mansion. And just how are they going to raise these funds? With wine, croquet games and high end gifts, of course:
On Sept. 22, the governor and first lady will hold a private reception and croquet tournament at the governor's mansion from 5 to 7 p.m. to raise money to help rehab the Maple Bluff facility.

Attendees can donate anywhere from $50 to $1,000 to the mansion's nonprofit foundation. Those who drop a grand get a "private reception, private tour, recognition on the invitation, signage and acknowledgment at the event, and admission and (croquet) tournament entry for two."

Fundraising invitations went out recently to scores of Madison lobbyists, female lawmakers, neighbors of the mansion, GOP campaign contributors, leading business officials and friends of the first couple. Some 1,800 people received an invite.

Those asked to attend the fundraiser range from conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes to Walker campaign chairman Michael Grebe.

The first lady said in her email accompanying the invitation that she hopes the event generates enough "resources to help us restore the Residence to its intended historic charm, beauty, and value."

"I am inviting fellow leading ladies like yourself to please join me in donating a purse filled with some of your favorite things. The purses will then be raffled off at the event," Tonette Walker added. "For example, I'll be donating a Tignanello bag filled with some of my can't-live-without items like my favorite shade of Bobbi Brown lipstick and an Aveda hand cream that I can't get enough of."

One recipient of an invitation was put off by the talk of designer handbags and croquet matches during this time of austere budgets and program cuts.

"I thought you might like to see where our first lady's efforts are going," said the source, who asked that her name not be used. "In the year of reducing programs like the school milk program for poor kids, I'm supposed to fill a purse with 'necessities' and donate to restore a mansion."
I'm sure the mention of caviar and pate de foie gras were simple omissions.

Bice raises the question if this is a way to buy influence with the governor. He points out that it is illegal for a lobbyist to donate money to his campaign until five months of the election, and speculates that this is a way for lobbyists, pols and other well-moneyed folks to curry favor with the governor. And we do know that in Walker's administration, the bigger the money, the clearer he hears the voice behind it.

Bice also spoke to Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now, who gave Bice a pretty good money quote:
"It sounds like a two-part construction project," said Scot Ross, head of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, a frequent Walker critic. "The special interests pay to remodel Gov. Walker's mansion, and he builds them a private entrance to his office."
Now, what they say makes perfectly good sense given Walker's history of pandering to the rich and having no scruples whatsoever.

But I wonder if that is the whole story. Don't forget that there is a looming John Doe investigation into Walker and his campaign and his former county (and for some, now former state) workers. This fund raiser may be a precursor to either defending against the criminal investigation or to defending against his upcoming recall. Given Walker's lack of ethics and historically sloppy bookkeeping this could be the first of the defense fund raising in itself.

Given that the Walker's stunt is so prone to mockery (didn't anyone think this through?!), it gives the Democrats (or the unions, for that matter) a perfect opportunity themselves.

Wouldn't it be a grand idea for the Dems (or unions) to hold their own croquet game, or even games throughout the state, in which they invite normal citizens to play along with Democratic pols, say like the Wisconsin 16? And instead of handing out designer bags full of high end cosmetics, they could hand out brown shopping bags of food for food pantries or school supplies to help cover a portion of the funds that Walker is gutting out of the school budgets.

They would be able to not only be able to point out Walker's elitism, but also score great points with people in the community by showing the stark difference between them and the Republicans, and who really stands for the average tax payer and citizen. I know too many people that need help due to Walker's budget and too many teachers wondering how they'll be able to do their usual quality work without the necessary supplies, and this would be a great way to help them.

Besides, who really wants to get a tube of Koch-o Brown colored lipstick?

Croquet anyone?


  1. Great idea
    Maybe instead of croquet the dems could play pool though ...

  2. Pool wouldn't work. You need something that a lot of people can play in a large area. Maybe mini-golf or frisbee golf.

  3. If she is touching Skippy she might want some kind of disinfectant instead of a hand cream.