Do 'To Catch a Predator' Rules Apply to the Walker Prank Call?

Wisconsin Democrats file ethics complaint over governor's conversation with David Koch impostor

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Remember when that alternative weekly reporter prank-called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and claimed to be Republican rainmaker David Koch? Yesterday, a complaint filed with the state's Government Accountability Board by Wisconsin Democrats claims Walker's chat with fake Koch constituted some real ethics violations.

Talking Points Memo has posted the full text of the complaint which alleges that Walker "attempted to coordinate third-party campaign spending," "illegally used state facilities, the phone in his office, to commit said coordination," "conspired to incite disorderly conduct," "misused the Attorney General's office in seeking advice on ways to trick the Democrats to come back" and "accepted a trip to California when offered by 'Koch.'"

The Wisconsin Democratic Party says it doesn't matter that Walker was actually speaking to a Buffalo Beast writer Ian Murphy. Wisconsin state party chairman Mike Tate invoked the logic of a popular TV series: "If you watch To Catch A Predator," he told reporters Monday, "it's not really a 13 year old boy in the house, but the law is violated all the same."

Presumably, this analogy applies to the portion of the complaint involving the alleged misuse of state resources. Wisconsin law prevents officeholders from using their position to "obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for the public official, a member of his or her immediate family, or an organization with which he or she is associated." The California trip and ads for GOP officials seem to meet the "substantial value" criteria.

Former Wisconsin attorney general Peg Lautenschlager told the Capitol Times of Madison that Walker shouldn't simply dismiss the complaint as grandstanding. “There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor law violations,” said Lautenschlager, a Democrat.“I think that the ethics violations are something the (state) Government Accountability Board should look into because they are considerable. He is on tape talking with someone who he thinks is the funder of an independent political action committee to purchase advertising to benefit Republican legislators who are nervous about taking votes on legislation he sees as critical to his political success.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.