And no, this is not like the ACORN videos. First, and most important, they were edited in ways that made them misleading. The Governor admits the tapes are real. (And the Buffalo Beast says that they would have made it much funnier if it were a joke — which I suspect is true.)
Second, this is a high level public figure whose words reflect actual policy and strategy, not some low level clerk acting on his or her own.
Third, this is someone one could expect to verify who he’s talking to, and guard his words in the middle of a national controversy.
Fourth, it’s damning that Walker would take a call from “David Koch” and be this forthcoming but it has little in common with the cartoon racist subtext of the ACORN stuff.
UPDATE: Ezra Klein:
But if the transcript of the conversation is unexceptional, the fact of it is lethal. The state’s Democratic senators can’t get Walker on the phone, but someone can call the governor’s front desk, identify themselves as David Koch, and then speak with both the governor and his chief of staff? That’s where you see the access and power that major corporations and wealthy contributors will have in a Walker administration, and why so many in Wisconsin are reluctant to see the only major interest group representing workers taken out of the game.
The critique many conservatives have made of public-sector unions is that they both negotiate with and fund politicians. It’s a conflict of interest. Well, so too do corporations, and wealthy individuals. That’s why Murphy — posing as Koch — was able to get through to Walker so quickly. And it shows what Walker is really interested in here: He is not opposed, in principle, to powerful interest groups having the ear of the politicians they depend on, and who depend on them. He just wants those interest groups to be the conservative interest groups that fund him, and that he depends on.
UPDATE: Washington Post says that Governor Walker’s office has confirmed that it is Governor Walker on the Buffalo Beast audio. Here is the statement, as posted at the WaPo:
The Governor takes many calls everyday. 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, whose website has crashed probably due to the massive amount of traffic it is receiving, (supposedly) prank called Gov. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) posing as David Koch.
Koch is one of a pair of rich businessmen brothers who uses their money to muscle their way through the political arena in ways that are immensely detrimental to everyone who isn’t them, especially the little guy. As the New Yorker made clear last year, they have bankrolled most of the Tea Party’s “grass root” movement. And now they are behind Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and his move to destroy most of the unions in the state.
Since it’s hard to access the Buffalo Beast right now, check out this write up at wnymedia.net (and here is Mother Jones’ post about it and also Grist’s). It includes embedded links to the youtube videos that have the audio of the LONG conversation between Walker and fake David Koch.
Mother Jones is clear to point out that no one has for sure verified that this is Scott Walker on the audio. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post tweeted this morning that the publisher of the Buffalo Beast confirmed to him that the audio is legit.
If the audio is real (and it seems somewhat iffy at this point, though that would be quite the prank on the media), it reveals that what is going on in Wisconsin has nothing to do with the budget. NOTHING. As wnymedia writes:
This is clear evidence that government is controlled by the moneyed interests, who have access and a “good time” with their partners in government. Shame on Walker.