Wis. gov. claims on support for anti-bargaining bill untrue


MADISON, Wis. (AP)

Seeking a way to counter a growing protest movement, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker cited his email, confidently declaring that most people writing his office had urged him to eliminate nearly all union rights for state workers.

But an Associated Press analysis of the emails shows that, for close to a week, messages in Walker's inbox were running roughly 2-to-1 against his plans. The tide did not turn in his favor until shortly after desperate Democrats fled the state to stop a vote they knew they would lose.

The AP analyzed more than 26,000 emails sent to Walker from the time he formally announced his plans until he first mentioned the emails in public - a span of seven days.

During that time, the overall tally ran 55 percent in support, 44 percent against. In the weeks since, Walker has continued to receive tens of thousands of emails on the issue.

The AP obtained the emails through a legal settlement with Walker's office, the result of a lawsuit filed by the news cooperative and the Isthmus, a weekly newspaper in Madison. The news organizations sued after the governor's office did not respond to requests for the emails filed under the state's open records law.

Walker's comments about the emails came on the evening of Feb. 17, as roughly 25,000 protesters packed into the Capitol's ornate rotunda and filled its lawn outside. They could be heard screaming outside the conference room where he met with reporters in a news conference broadcast live by several cable news networks.

"The more than 8,000 emails we got today, the majority are telling us to stay firm, to stay strong, to stand with the taxpayers," Walker said of the emails. "While the protesters have every right to be heard, I'm going to make sure the taxpayers of the state are heard and their voices are not drowned out by those circling the Capitol."

But for several preceding days, the emails of support Walker received had been vastly outnumbered by those opposed to his plan.

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