The caller suggested he was thinking about “planting some troublemakers” among the protesters, and Walker said his administration had thought about doing that, too, but decided against it. Walker said the protests eventually would die because the media would stop covering them.
Walker told reporters the plan to bring in outside agitators was one of many ideas his supporters and aides have raised that were dismissed.
At the end of the call, the prankster says: “I’ll tell you what, Scott, once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”
“All right, that would be outstanding,” Walker replies, adding that the standoff is “all about getting our freedoms back.”
The caller responds: “Absolutely. And you know, we have a little bit of vested interest as well” and laughs.
Walker’s budget bill also allows his administration to sell power plants that heat and cool state buildings to private companies without any bids.
Critics have seized on that provision, saying they are convinced the Koch brothers’ business interests would be able to buy power plants on the cheap, and then profit by running them and driving up the price of energy.
Koch Industries has denied any interest in buying the plants. Republicans tried to privatize Wisconsin’s power plants in 2005, but the plan was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
Immediately after taking office, Walker also pushed for legislation that would limit damage awards in lawsuits against many businesses.
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Koch Industries lobbied for the bill, and Walker signed it into law last month. Walker is also seeking passage for another Koch Industries-backed bill to weaken state regulations by giving him the power to approve all rules proposed by agencies, a proposal that is moving quickly through the Legislature.
Koch Industries recently opened a lobbying office a block from the Capitol. Seven lobbyists have registered in Wisconsin to lobby for various Koch Industries companies.
Even before recordings of the call surfaced, the government watchdog group Common Cause in Wisconsin released a statement saying Walker’s agenda matched with that of Koch Industries.
“Koch Industries and other corporate citizens have legitimate interests in Wisconsin, but their demonstrated willingness to push large amounts of money into state politics has given them a dangerously outsized voice,” said Bob Edgar, the group’s national president. That voice, he said, is “now demanding a return on its investments.”