I didn’t make this up, the piece is really titled Koch Whore:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker answers his master’s call:
“David Koch”: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that—because we thought about that…
WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO WITNESS IS REAL. NO NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT. THERE ARE NO INNOCENT.
“He’s just hard-lined—will not talk, will not communicate, will not return phone calls.”
-Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) on Gov. Walker (source)
Carpenter’s quote made me wonder: who could get through to Gov. Walker? Well, what do we know about Walker and his proposed union-busting, no-bid budget? The obvious candidate was David Koch.
I first called at 11:30 am CST, and eventually got through to a young, male receptionist who, upon hearing the magic name Koch, immediately transferred me to Executive Assistant Governor Dorothy Moore.
“We’ve met before, Dorothy,” I nudged. “I really need to talk to Scott—Governor Walker.” She said that, yes, she thought she had met Koch, and that the name was “familiar.” But she insisted that Walker was detained in a meeting and couldn’t get away. She asked about the nature of my call. I balked, “I just needed to speak with the Governor. He knows what this is about,” I said. She told me to call back at noon, and she’d have a better idea of when he would be free.
I called at noon and was quickly transferred to Moore, who then transferred me to Walker’s Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes. He was “expecting my call.”
“David!” he said with an audible smile.
I politely said hello, not knowing how friendly Gilkes and Koch may be. He was eager to help. “I was really hoping to talk directly to Scott,” I said. He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” Gilkes found this amusing. “I’m calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it’s called. You know, the Snype!”
“Gotcha,” Gilkes said. “Let me check the schedule here…OK, there’s an opening at 2 o’clock Central Standard Time. Just call this same number and we’ll put you through.”
Could it really be that easy? Yes. What follows is a rushed, abridged transcript of my—I mean, David Koch’s conversation with Gov. Walker. Listen to the whole call here:
Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.
Koch: Scott! David Koch. How are you?
Walker: Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?
Koch: I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, but, uh, what’s the latest?
Walker: Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough. I mean—you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters—almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up—getting it all the way to the last point it can be at where it’s unamendable. But they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate’s—the Senate Democrats, excuse me, the assembly Democrats have about a hundred amendments they’re going through. The state Senate still has the 14 members missing but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things members in the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit…. The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning—he told the Senate Democrats about and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day—in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it’s a little procedural thing here, but—can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted—
Walker: —into your checking account and instead—you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.
Koch: Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?
Walker: Ah, I—there’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship and he’s worked with us on other things, to tell him I wasn’t going to budge.
Koch: Goddamn right!
Walker: …his name is Tim Cullen—
Koch: All right, I’ll have to give that man a call.
Walker: Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him and I’ll tell you why: he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us…
Koch: Now who can we get to budge on this collective bargaining?
Walker: …I think the paycheck will have an impact…secondly, one of the things we’re looking at next…we’re still waiting on an opinion to see if the unions have been paying to put these guys up out of state. We think there’s at minimum an ethics violation if not an outright felony.
Koch: Well, they’re probably putting hobos in suits.
Koch: That’s what we do. Sometimes.
Walker: I mean paying for the senators to be put up. I know they’re paying for these guy—I mean, people can pay for protesters to come in and that’s not an ethics code, but, I mean, literally if the unions are paying the 14 senators—their food, their lodging, anything like that…[*** Important regarding his later acceptance of a Koch offer to “show him a good time.” ***]
[I was stunned. I am stunned. In the interest of expediting the release of this story, here are the juiciest bits:]
Walker: …I’ve got layoff notices ready…
Koch: Beautiful; beautiful. Gotta crush that union.
Walker: [bragging about how he doesn't budge]…I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…
Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.
Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.
Walker: So this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it. [Talks about a “great” NYT piece of “objective journalism.” Talks about how most private blue-collar workers have turned against public, unionized workers.]…So I went through and called a handful, a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about each day and said, “Everyone, we should get that story printed out and send it to anyone giving you grief.”
Koch: Goddamn right! We, uh, we sent, uh, Andrew Breitbart down there.
Walker: Good stuff.
Koch: He’s our man, you know.
Walker: [blah about his press conferences, attacking Obama, and all the great press he's getting.] Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said—he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.
Koch: You’re the first domino.
Walker: Yep. This is our moment.
Koch: Now what else could we do for you down there?
Walker: Well the biggest thing would be—and your guy on the ground [Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this [stuff about all the people protesting, and some of them flip him off].
[Abrupt end of first recording, and start of second.]
Walker: [Bullshit about doing the right thing and getting flipped off by “union bulls,” and the decreasing number of protesters. Or some such.]
Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.
Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems…[something about '60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.
Koch: Well, not the liberal bastards on MSNBC.
Walker: Oh yeah, but who watches that? I went on “Morning Joe” this morning. I like it because I just like being combative with those guys, but, uh. You know they’re off the deep end.
Koch: Joe—Joe’s a good guy. He’s one of us.
Walker: Yeah, he’s all right. He was fair to me…[bashes NY Senator Chuck Schumer, who was also on the program.]
Koch: Beautiful; beautiful. You gotta love that Mika Brzezinski; she’s a real piece of ass.
Walker: Oh yeah. [story about when he hung out with human pig Jim Sensenbrenner at some D.C. function and he was sitting next to Brzezinski and her father, and their guest was David Axelrod. He introduced himself.]
Koch: That son of a bitch!
Walker: Yeah no kidding huh?…
Koch: Well, good; good. Good catching up with ya’.
Walker: This is an exciting time [blah, blah, blah, Super Bowl reference followed by an odd story of pulling out a picture of Ronald Reagan and explaining to his staff the plan to crush the union the same way Reagan fired the air traffic controllers]…that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall because the Communists then knew Reagan wasn’t a pushover. [Blah, blah, blah. He's exactly like Reagan. Won't shut up about how awesome he is.]
Koch: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. [*** Ethical violation much? ***] Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…
Koch: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]
Walker: [Blah] Thanks a million!
So there you have it, kids. Government isn’t for the people. It’s for the people with money. You want to be heard? Too fucking bad. You want to collectively bargain? You can’t afford a seat at the table. You may have built that table. But it’s not yours. It belongs to the Kochs and the oligarch class. It’s guarded by Republicans like Walker, and his Democratic counterparts across that ever-narrowing aisle that is corporate rule, so that the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots can swallow all the power in the world. These are known knowns, and now we just know them a little more.
But money isn’t always power. The protesters in Cairo and Madison have taught us this—reminded us of this. They can’t buy a muzzle big enough to silence us all. Share the news. Do not retreat; ReTweet.
The revolution keeps spinning. Try not to get too dizzy.
HERE’S THE MotherJones interview with Mr. Murphy (the fake Koch brother):
UPDATE (1): Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s office confirms that the recording of a call between the governor and an alt-weekly writer posing as David Koch, one of the billionaire GOP financier brothers, is real and that it is actually Walker on the recording. The governor’s office has released a statement:
The Governor takes many calls everyday,” Walkers spokesman, Cullen Werwie said in a statement. “Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.
The Buffalo Beast site, which organized the prank, is down, but you can hear the call below.
UPDATE (2): Ian Murphy, the guy with the catch of the week, responded warmly to our questions about his call to Walker. His comments have been added in the original post below.
ORIGINAL POST: Is that really Scott Walker? [Update: Yep.] A New York-based alt-news editor says he got through to the embattled Wisconsin governor on the phone Tuesday by posing as right-wing financier David Koch…then had a far-ranging 20-minute conversation about the collective bargaining protests. According to the audio, Walker told him:
That statehouse GOPers were plotting to hold Democratic senators’ pay until they returned to vote on the controversial union-busting bill.
That Walker was looking to nail Dems on ethics violations if they took meals or lodging from union supporters.
That he’d take “Koch” up on this offer: “[O]nce you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”
But was it for real? Check out the details on the guerrilla caller and audio of his conversation below the jump.
According to his Wikipedia entry, Ian Murphy is a gonzo journalist and editor of the Buffalo Beast, an online mag that was founded in 2002 as an alternative biweekly by gonzo Matt Taibbi and a band of colleagues. Murphy’s probably best-known for a tough read about America’s war dead called “Fuck the Troops.” But if his latest Beast post, “Koch Whore,” is to be believed, it’s likely to be read a lot more widely.
When Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter complained that Walker wouldn’t return any of the Dems’ calls, Murphy says he wondered: “Who could get through to Gov. Walker? Well, what do we know about Walker and his proposed union-busting, no-bid budget? The obvious candidate was David Koch.” Koch, of course, is one of the right-wing brothers behind Americans for Prosperity and a host of other GOP-friendly causes; MoJo’s own Andy Kroll broke the news last week on the Koch brothers’ past support for Walker and his agenda.
So, Murphy says, he managed to have a phone audience with the governor by posing as Koch. And he taped the whole thing, copied on the videos below. What Walker says on the tape is pretty convincing…and sweeping. There’ll be no negotiations with the unions or their legislative supporters, he says; after all, he doesn’t need them:
I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there.
At one point in the tape, Walker dismisses the left-leaning MSNBC. “Who watches that? I went on Morning Joe this morning. I like it because I just like being combative with those guys, but, uh. You know they’re off the deep end.” In fact, Walker did appear on Joe Scarborough’s a.m. show Tuesday; if this isn’t an authentic recording of the governor, Murphy surely nailed down the little details. But hey, that’s gonzo, right? Right?…
There were plenty of unanswered questions, so we sought out Murphy online late Tuesday night, asking if he was still awake. “Sort of,” he tweeted us. “What do you want to know?” We emailed him a list of questions, and he responded early this morning:
Mother Jones: Okay, why should we believe you?
Ian Murphy: Why wouldn’t you? I’d send you the recordings, but they’re already online. I guess you’d have to consult an audio engineer or mp4 expert or whatever the forensic audio analysis autopsy seance kind of person. It sounds like him to me. Maybe they punked me! Maybe it was Koch who actually answered the phone. Maybe I am living a double life in my sleep as Scott Walker! It’s for real. I would have made the dialogue better and the audio worse. What, I am DARPA or some shit over here?
MJ: What number did you call to get through to Walker?
IM: I called the number on their website: http://walker.wi.gov/section.asp?linkid=1714&locid=177 I kept calling that same number, getting a busy signal, waiting through 20 rings. That Koch would suffer such indignities made it extra ridiculous.
MJ: Did you really think you’d get through?
IM: I couldn’t believe it was that easy. Or why they wouldn’t check around or something in between my calls. Or be competent. Or just not completely stupid. I blame it on the cheeseheads.
MJ: Did you ever freak out, almost lose your cool, etc.?
IM: Each time I called i presumed they be like, “Sir, we know you’re not Mr. Koch. Please fuck the fuck off.” Once Walker got on, I was more shocked than freaked. Now I’m freaked again.
****ACS: There’s the MotherJones article. Here’s the Salon version. I’m sure there’ll be a billion others soon.