UPDATED Friday, May 11, 2012--6:15p.m.
"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state? And work on these unions?," Beloit Billionaire Diane Hendricks asks Gov. Walker in a soon-to-be-released documentary. Hendricks, also a campaign donor, also mentions becoming a right-to-work state. Governor Walker replies: "We're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill, the first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions," he says. "You just divide and conquer."
Those comments are a small part of a trailer for the soon to be released film "As Goes Janesville", a documentary about how the city faced the economic recession and the closing of the G.M. plant.
However, those comments are getting a lot of attention on the political path. "I was flabbergasted at his language," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor. "Because for weeks, if not months, I have been saying that he follows a divide and conquer strategy in this state and we finally found something that we agree on."
"It's interesting to me that our opponents seem to want to...rehash and replay the debate that I think the vast majority of us, I speak for myself included, want to move on from and move forward on," said Gov. Walker.
Barrett said he thinks it's clear Gov. Walker favors making Wisconsin a right-to-work state. "He said 'the first step', he didn't say 'this is all I'm going to do', and her question was directed at when can we have this be a right-to-work state," said Barrett. "There was no confusion in that conversation what so ever."
The governor said he has no intention of pursuing right-to-work legislation and said his comments show he was willing to stand up for taxpayers. "Where I'm drawing the line in the sand is to stand up and put the government back on the side of the hard-working tax payers of the state," he said. "I felt strongly as I saw at the local level and at the state level that hadn't happened in the past and I'm willing to stand up and stand on behalf of the hard working taxpayers of this state."
To add another twist, the filmmaker has donated to Tom Barrett in the past and said it's no secret he's supported Democrats. But, he said he always includes multiple perspectives in his work to tell the complete story. "We're all free citizens and we're all entitled to our personal political views," said Brad Lichtenstein, the film's maker. "But the clear bright line that I always draw and never cross is letting our personal political views interfere with the way that we tell our stories."
UPDATED Friday, May 11, 2012 --- 2:45 p.m.
From the Associated Press & WEAU-TV: Newly-released documentary film footage from January 2011 shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker describing a "divide and conquer" strategy for going after the state's public employee unions that would begin with going after their collective bargaining rights.
Walker's opponents insist the remarks undermine the governor's long-held claim that his polarizing law stripping most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights was meant solely as a budget-balancing measure.
A complete transcript shows the governor immediately added that the state and local governments need the law to help balance their books. However, it remained unclear Friday exactly what the governor meant by "divide and conquer," and his spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, declined to explain during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the video late Thursday (http://bit.ly/JgPEDL ). Filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein captured the clip while making a documentary about the city of Janesville's efforts to create jobs following the closure of a General Motors plant.
It shows the newly-elected Walker talking to a top donor, Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, and Mary Willmer-Sheedy, an M&I Bank executive from Janesville. Hendricks asks Walker whether he can make Wisconsin a "completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work" state. She was referring to states that have passed laws favored by conservatives that allow workers to not pay union dues or join a union even if they are covered by a union contract.
"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker said. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. According to a transcript the Journal Sentinel obtained, the governor then immediately said: "So for us the base we've got for that is the fact that we've got — budgetarily we can't afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there's no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out."
Democrats angry with the collective bargaining changes have forced Walker into a June 5 recall election. Walker's opponent, Tom Barrett, a Democrat who currently serves as Milwaukee's mayor, has been accusing Walker of secretly wanting to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state.
"Scott Walker has plunged our state into political turmoil with his 'divide and conquer' style of governing," Barrett said in a statement Friday. "More alarming is how Walker says in public what he thinks the people want to hear, but then reveals his true colors to the conservative billionaires bankrolling his campaign. We cannot trust what Scott Walker says."
Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation in 1993 as a freshman in the state Assembly, but he has declined to say whether he would sign or veto a right-to-work bill if passed by the Legislature. Supporters of right-to-work legislation believe it would give more freedom to workers and make it more attractive for companies to invest and hire employees in a state. Opponents say it undermines unions and doesn't help the economy.
Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said the governor's position on right-to-work hasn't changed.
"Governor Walker has made clear repeatedly that he does not have an interest in pushing right-to-work legislation," Matthews said in a statement Friday morning.
Lichtenstein has since finished the documentary, "As Goes Janesville," which is expected to be shown at film festivals and on PBS stations this fall. Lichtestein has worked for Democratic campaigns and has donated to Barrett.
The conversation was recorded at the Beloit headquarters of ABC Supply, the roofing wholesaler and siding distributor Hendricks founded with her husband, Ken, who died in 2007. Walker was there to attend a meeting of the economic development group Rock County 5.0, which Hendricks co-chairs.
He denied the timing of the clip's release, coming just weeks before the election, was a political maneuver. He said he always planned to release snippets once the film was complete and he had shown it to the principal people in it, which he completed in April.
"It's absolutely not a political attack. This is 28 seconds ... in a 90 minute film," he said.
The video makes for interesting campaign fodder, but likely won't sway many voters. After a year and a half of recall talk, most people have already made up their minds about whether they support Walker.
In Milwaukee Friday, Newsradio 620 WTMJ interviewed Walker.
He told the station, "The Democrats and some of the media seem to want to repeat the same debate that we've had over the last year over and over and over again and want to go back and rehash it again and bring it back again. I learned traveling the state that most people and I want to move on."
The Democrat trying to oust Walker from office released a statement Friday on this topic.
Here's Tom Barrett's statement:
"Scott Walker has plunged our state into political turmoil with his 'divide and conquer' style of governing, and Wisconsin is tired of it. More alarming is how Walker says in public what he thinks the people want to hear, but then reveals his true colors to the conservative billionaires bankrolling his campaign. We cannot trust what Scott Walker says, and we can't fix Wisconsin and stop our massive job loss if we keep Scott Walker as governor."
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 --- 7:00 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Video shot by a filmmaker captures Gov. Scott Walker explaining a "divide and conquer" strategy against unions to a top campaign donor.
The video shows Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks asking Walker in January 2011 whether he could make Wisconsin a "completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work" state. Hendricks was referring to right-to-work laws which prevent private sector unions from making employees pay union dues if they choose not to join the union.
Walker told Hendricks the "first step" would be "to divide and conquer" through his budget adjustment bill, which cut collective bargaining for most public employee unions.
The Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/K7JCn7) says the documentary filmmaker, Brad Lichtenstein has worked for Democratic campaigns and has donated to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's opponent in the June 5 recall election.
Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.
*** For the full article, go to this link: The Journal Sentinel at http://bit.ly/K7JCn7