Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate for governor in the June 5 recall election, attack Republican Gov. Scott Walker for starting an ideological civil war in Wisconsin during a campaign stop in Hudson Wednesday morning.
Barrett began his speech to 100 or more supporters who crowded into Key's Café & Bakery by saying, "We need a fresh start in Madison with values representing all of us throughout the state, that reflect Wisconsin values, and not the values of billionaires from Texas."
His hard-hitting address assailed Walker for raising "nearly 70 percent" of more than $25 million in campaign donations from out-of-state special interests and wealthy individuals.
Barrett also raised the issue of the ongoing John Doe investigation into the activities of Walker's staff during the time he was the Milwaukee County executive.
Six of Walker's associates have been charged with 15 felonies, so far, as a result of the investigation. The charges have included staff members doing political work while being paid by taxpayers.
Walker in April transferred $60,000 from his campaign account to a legal defense fund, but maintains he isn't a target of the investigation.
"Do we want to have the only governor in this nation who has a criminal defense fund?" Barrett asked the crowd in Key's Café.
"No!" came the reply.
"Do we want to have a governor who has had the largest cut in education in this state's history?" he asked.
Again, "No!" was the response.
Barrett then reminded the crowd of a video of Walker talking to a billionaire donor that was released by Milwaukee filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein in April.
It shows Walker greeting Diane Hendricks of Beloit, the head of ABC Supply and the 188th richest person in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine. It was shot in January 2011, prior to the introduction of the budget repair bill that stripped public employee unions of almost all of their bargaining powers. Lichtenstein was working on a documentary about the closing of the General Motors plant in Janesville.
"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?" Hendricks asks.
"Oh, yeah," Walker says
"And become a right-to-work (state)?" Hendricks continues. "What can we do to help you?"
"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker says. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."
Barrett told the gathering in Hudson that in the following weeks Hendricks wrote checks of $10,000 and $500,000 to Walker's campaign. She also donated $25,000 to the Republican Governor's Association that the association is using to run negative ads against him that he calls "30-second drive-by shootings," Barrett said.
Hendricks' company paid no corporate income taxes from 2005 through 2008, he said, adding that those were the most recent years for which tax records were available.
"So her company has paid no corporate income taxes, she can write a check to him for half a million dollars, and they want to go after the rights of working people," Barrett said. "That's what this governor is all about."
He said Walker has been busy "flying around the country making fundraising speeches touting how successful he has been in taking away the rights of working people."
Barrett said he wasn't interested in being the "rock star" of the far right or the far left.
"What I want to be is rock solid in focusing on creating jobs and better education and health care right here in the state of Wisconsin," he said.
Barrett said he couldn't believe it when he heard Walker say he planned to divide and conquer the public and private unions in the state. He said good leaders in difficult times try to bring people together.
"What you saw in that little video tape is this man who said that there is a crisis, and that we was going to use this crisis to try to divide this state," Barrett said.
"And I think that's how basic the choice is in this election," he continued. "Are we going to have a leader, when times are difficult, who is going to pit people against each other? Or are we going to have a leader who is going to try to bring people together?"