Tea Party Twins Scott Walker and Tim Pawlenty: Ethics Violations and Pay-to-Play Culture

May 20, 2012

Scott Walker was today joined on the campaign trail by fellow Tea Party governor, Tim Pawlenty.

Both Walker and Pawlenty are well known for their accounting gimmickry and extreme cuts to public education, but that’s not where the similarities end.

Just like Scott Walker, Pawlenty’s campaign and administration were marked with ethics violations, a pay-to-play culture of corruption and blatant misuse of taxpayer resources for personal, political gain.

“We already have a governor in Scott Walker who is mired in scandal, corruption and failure,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate. “With all due respect to Tea Party Tim Pawlenty, one of these is more than enough for Wisconsin.”

Campaign Finance Violations

  • Walker donor Bill Gardner, who was convicted in the John Doe criminal corruption probe, holds the largest campaign finance violation in Wisconsin history for his illegal contributions to Scott Walker, and Scott Walker himself has been the subject of multiple campaign finance violations.
  • Tim Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaign received the largest fine in the history of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board for illegally coordinating television ads with the MN GOP. In 2002, Pawlenty’s campaign committee received $600,000 in penalties – the most ever imposed by the Campaign Finance Board on a candidate’s committee.

Misuse of Taxpayer Resources

  • Dating back to 2004, Scott Walker used Milwaukee County resources to finance and promote a Harley tour of the state, which was intended to promote Milwaukee County tourism, but in reality was a Walker campaign tour.  In 2010, during his ultimately successful bid for governor, Walker moved the timing of the trip to coincide exactly with not only the date of the Republican Party’s state convention, but also the site of the Republican convention. Walker was joined by since-indicted campaign aide and former staffer, Tim Russell.
  • A top Walker campaign fundraiser, and former deputy chief of staff, Kelly Rindfleisch, has been charged withillegal misuse of taxpayer resources for running campaign fundraising operations out of Walker’s County office.
  • Rindfleisch’s illegal activity went undetected for months, owing to a secret network installed just 20 feet from Walker’s desk by another indicted Walker adviser, Tim Russell, which was used by several top staffers in the County Executive’s office to conduct campaign activity on Walker’s behalf, as well as County business, in an apparent attempt to conceal records from the public.
  • Another Walker administration employee, Darlene Wink, has been charged with misusing taxpayer resources to post on blogs and websites in support of Scott Walker on taxpayer time. Wink’s campaign activity went even further – she was planning fundraising events for Scott Walker on taxpayer time, including a birthday celebration for Scott Walker.
  • Tim Pawlenty in 2005 was accused of improperly using state vehicles to travel to campaign events for President Bush and other Republican candidates in the 2004 election. Pawlenty ultimately reimbursed the state $1,014 for his travel.

Pay-to-Play Culture of Corruption

  • In 2005, Tim Pawlenty’s administration negotiated a lower fine for a Florida insurance company, American Bankers Insurance Group, accused of selling illegal credit-insurance policies. The company had donated $15,000 to the Minnesota Republican Party.