WASHINGTON -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the people he surrounds himself with have always been zealous campaigners. Recent emails show that several of his top aides were doing political work on taxpayer time while Walker was Milwaukee County executive -- even though it was illegal -- and Walker himself knew of some of their activities.
But Walker breaking the rules while campaigning goes back even further, to his time as a college student at Marquette University, which the Democratic super PAC American Bridge is trying to remind people. American Bridge has been hammering Walker over the so-called John Doe scandal in recent days.
"There is a pattern in Scott Walker's career where he gets caught knowing about illegal activity and then tries to blame it on others. Walker needs to stop ignoring legitimate questions from the Wisconsin and national press and explain what he knew and when about the illegal activities happening in the County Executive Office literally only feet away from his desk," American Bridge President Brad Woodhouse said.
In 1988, Walker wanted to become president of the school's student government, known as the Associated Students at Marquette University. He was running against John Quigley, a liberal student, in a race that became incredibly contentious. Election rules said that presidential candidates could not begin campaigning until after they registered, which started on Feb. 3.
Walker, however, was caught campaigning on Jan. 24. As the Marquette Tribune reported on Feb. 2, 1988:
Potential ASMU presidential candidate Scott Walker was found guilty of illegal campaigning in a grievance hearing before members of the elections commission Monday night.
By speaking before a meeting of the Delta Chi fraternity Jan. 24, Walker, an arts and sciences sophomore, violated the rule which states, "No campaigning may begin before a candidate is registered," the committee ruled.
At the meeting, according to a student in attendance, Walker asked the fraternity members, "What can ASMU do for the Inter-Fraternity council?" and told them he intended to run for president of ASMU in a few weeks.
As punishment, the campus elections commission prohibited Walker from campaigning until Feb. 4, 7:00 p.m. -- 24 hours after other candidates were officially allowed to begin. In response, Walker said, "I found no fault in their decision. ... All it does is limit me for one day."
Walker also faced two more complaints during his campaign. One, as outlined in a Feb. 11, 1988 article by the Marquette Tribune, alleged that Walker's campaign manager gave a speech titled, "Scott Walker for ASMU President" in a class at 11 a.m. on Feb. 4 -- before he was supposed to start campaigning.
The third complaint, according to a Feb. 24, 1988 Marquette Tribune article, accused a Walker supporter of "inserting platforms under closed and half open doors in the YMCA," even though election rules forbid "any door-to-door campaigning or cold-call campaigning." Walker admitted to "violating campaign rules" and lost campaign privileges at the YMCA. He said the violation was the result of an "over-zealous supporter."
The Marquette Tribune ultimately endorsed Quigley, finding Walker unqualified for the position. After the newspaper came out, editions with the Quigley endorsement were hard to find, leading some to accuse the Walker campaign of stealing them. There is no public evidence making that case. Ultimately, Quigley won 1,245 to 927.
Walker's campaign did not return a request for comment.
Walker never graduated from Marquette, withdrawing after the spring semester in 1990. Although state Democrats have argued that the school kicked Walker out due to the 1988 campaign shenanigans, Walker's spokesman and the school have denied the claim.
Last week, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals released more than 27,000 pages of documents that were part of the now-closed secret "John Doe" investigation into Walker's time as county executive. So far, six of his former aides and associates have been convicted in connection with the case.