Did you hear the news? Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is taking a motorcycle trip across Wisconsin in June to extol the virtues of tourism in Milwaukee! That’s great news, isn’t it?!? After all, Scott Walker’s mere presence throughout the state is sure to drive up Milwaukee County’s tourism numbers to levels we’ve only dreamed of!
Oh wait…there is one small problem with Walker’s trip. Well actually, that’s two small problems, the first of which is the fact that county employees are currently under a Walker-imposed freeze on unnecessary travel, which makes me wonder why the freeze on unnecessary travel doesn’t apply to Walker’s motorcycle trip across the state. After all, is it really necessary that Scott Walker traipse across the state on his hog to promote tourism in Milwaukee County? I’d argue Walker’s trip isn’t necessary, but it sure is convenient, given the fact that Walker’s planning on announcing his candidacy for governor next week.
That brings me to small problem number two, namely the fact that Walker – as a candidate for governor of the State of Wisconsin – will be traveling across the state on the taxpayer dime. While Walker says he won’t discuss his gubernatorial campaign while he’s touring the state on his hog, the trip certainly won’t hurt Walker’s efforts to boost his name recognition in parts of the state that will no doubt be helpful when the Republican gubernatorial primary rolls around. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has already requested an opinion from the state Government Accountability Board on whether Walker’s ride would violate state law if he formally announces as a Republican candidate for governor before the ride, as state law bars use of public resources for campaigning. While Walker and his supporters will no doubt deny Walker’s trip is in any way related to (or beneficial to) his gubernatorial campaign, I can’t see how a taxpayer-funded trip across the state won’t help his chances as Walker looks to defeat Mark Neumann to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010.
Considering the likelihood of former Congressman Mark Neumann’s candidacy for governor, I can understand why Scott Walker would want to get a jump-start on his campaign, and given Walker’s miserable showing against Mark Green in 2006, I can understand why he really wants to pull out all the stops to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010. However, that doesn’t mean Scott Walker should be allowed to campaign on the taxpayers’ dime, especially considering Mark Neumann doesn’t have the same luxury.
Then again, as Cory Liebmann has suggested, maybe Scott Walker should let Mark Neumann hop on the back of his Harley and they can “promote Milwaukee County” *wink, wink* together.