During Friday’s debate, Tom Barrett noted that Scott Walker is the only governor in the nation with a criminal defense fund. Barrett wanted to know who was paying for the criminal defense fund, among other things. But Walker dodged Barrett’s questions and instead insisted that he’s “had a high level of integrity.” Walker’s comments opened the door for an increased level of scrutiny of his history, and social media sites have been ablaze all weekend with talk of Walker’s time at Marquette University, for good reason.
Under normal circumstances, a candidate’s college experiences probably wouldn’t be relevant. But since during the gubernatorial debate Walker himself called attention to his integrity and his history, and since there is documentation which shows that Walker may not have always acted with integrity, that information is extremely relevant.
During his time at Marquette, Walker ran for student body president. Both he and his opponent, John Quigley, were endorsed by the Marquette Tribune. But on February 24, 1988, the editorial board of the Marquette Tribune found it necessary to issue a retraction, essentially withdrawing their endorsement of Scott Walker for ASMU leader, claiming that Walker was “unfit” after brochures that appeared to smear his political opponent appeared on campus. From the original article:
…Tuesday morning, a Scott Walker campaign brochure was distributed on campus which amounts to nothing more than a blatant mudslinging spree.
Walker’s opponent is characterized, misleadingly, as “constantly shout(ing) about fighting the administration,” as “threatening lawsuits” and as “try(ing) to lead several ineffective protests of his own.” In short, the student body is asked to view Quigley as a wild-eyed radical determined to rouse the students into surrounding O’Hara Hall with stones and spears. His platform is caricatured as “just vague ideals.”
Because the same brochure states-contrary to the text of Tuesday’s endorsement-that “the editorial board might not want Scott Walker’s effective leadership and dedication to serving the students,” some may attribute this retraction to a desire on our part to “get back at Walker.” This is untrue, but it is a perception we have to risk.
Clearly, the board did not make this decision lightly:
We examined the brochure without its reference to the editorial board and asked ourselves, “If this was part of the standard Walker campaign literature when we held the interviews, would we have written the endorsement differently?”
Every one of us had to answer yes. We could not have written, in good conscience, that Walker would be a good president. In our opinion, no one who responds to opposition by distorting (if not assasinating) the character of his opponent and making pouty accusations deserves to be president of the student body…”
But wait, there’s more:
We are also disappointed by reports of Walker campaign personnel picking up armfuls of Tuesday’s Tribune and throwing them away.
We are disappointed not because the papers contained our endorsements, but because it is a serious shame to see hours of work and thousands of advertising dollars deliberately made useless. And mostly because a great number of Marquette students were deprived of a chance to see the paper-coverage of the Maya Angelou presentation and the Marquette-Virginia Tech game, among other stories and the four-page health supplement.
Yeah, that doesn’t sound like integrity to me.
We don’t know the circumstances behind Walker’s decision to leave Marquette University. We don’t know if he was asked to leave due to illegal campaign activities, because he is not saying.
Walker has remained silent on both this and his involvement in the John Doe investigation.
I have been in contact with attorneys who have said that Walker may be hiding behind John Doe secrecy laws, that he may not be required to keep silent despite what he tells the public, in part, because it seems unreasonable for any judge to compel Walker to silence knowing that silence could destroy his career.
So why the secrecy?
There are too many questions that remain unanswered. The pubic deserves answers before the June 5, 2012 election, in the name of transparency and true integrity.