At a time when the antics of the Trump administration often resemble something out of reality television, Gov. Scott Walker’s summer plans should come as no surprise.
Walker (R.-Wis.) and his wife, first lady Tonette Walker, are scheduled to headline “a distinctly Christian cruise experience” in August through Inspiration Cruises & Tours. The trip will voyage from Washington to Alaska and back, costing passengers between $1,298 and $3,368 depending on their room preference.
The cruise is geared for entrepreneurs and business professionals looking for a faith-based networking opportunity, Walker said in a welcome letter on the Inspiration website.
“I want to personally invite you to join me and other special guests on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise to Alaska,” Walker said in his letter. “Along the way, we’ll have countless moments for building new friendships and engaging in conversations about what we hold dear: faith, freedom and family values.”
Inspiration Cruises is a Christian-run company that operates trips sponsored by specific ministries. Walker’s cruise will be sponsored by Lifeshape, a Christian non-profit co-founded by Trudy and John White. Trudy White, whose father founded Christian fast-food company Chick-fil-A Inc., will also be a special guest on the cruise.
Also joining the fun will be gospel singer Wes Hampton and Jason and David Benham, a pair of conservative Christian brothers and entrepreneurs who lost their scheduled HGTV show in 2014 for delivering anti-gay remarks at a prayer rally (or, as the Inspiration website says, due to “their commitment to Biblical values.”)
Larry Cox, CEO of Lifeshape, told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday that Walker and his wife would not have to pay for the trip since they were invited to attend as speakers. But he added that the company wouldn’t be paying the Walkers any additional remuneration.
According to Wisconsin’s code of ethics, “No state public official may accept or retain any transportation, lodging, meals, food or beverage, or reimbursement therefor” if doing so would at all conflict with their duties as an elected official.
A spokesperson for Walker did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post regarding the governor’s compensation from Inspiration Cruises.
Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Walker, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Walker has asked the state Ethics Commission to review the invitation to ensure that it complies with state law. Evenson said he expects the board to send their decision next month.
Matt Rothschild, executive director for non-profit watch-dog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said he believed Walker’s scheduled participation on the cruise would violate the separation of church and state.
“He’s totally disregarding the wall between church and state, and he’s offending everyone in Wisconsin who doesn’t share his beliefs,” Rothschild told The Huffington Post. “He better be paying for this out of his own pocket. It certainly shouldn’t be put on the people’s credit card.”