Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly Forces Gov. Scott Walker Into Uncomfortable Admission


    This is highly amusing, definitely worth watching. As Greg Sargent explains:

    Under persistent questioning on the Hill today, Governor Scott Walker finally admitted something he’s refused to acknowledge throughout the Wisconsin controversy: He never campaigned explicitly on any proposal to roll back the collective bargaining rights of public employees.


    This is at odds with what Walker has said in the past. Asked in February whether his move to limit union power was payback, Walker replied: “It’s not a tit for tat. The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election.

    Nice work by Congressman Connolly, I particularly enjoyed the part where Walker tried to claim that he had no idea what “David Koch” was saying (yeah, right!!!).

    P.S. A full transcript of the exchange is on the “flip.”

    Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Hearing Transcript (14 April 2011)

    Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) – We now go to the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Connolly, for five minutes.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Thank you Mr. Chairman and welcome governors. Governor Shumlin, did I understand in your testimony that you said that the pension fund in Vermont has an 8, 8½ percent return…annual return?

    Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) – That’s correct. That’s what we had over time and I think it’s really important to address the question of who pays and the statement just made the tax payers do. But at least in Vermont, maybe we’re unique I don’t think so, 80 percent of the benefits that we pay out are paid for by return on investment.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – 80 percent?

    Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) – That’s correct.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – So, is it, you are a member of the National Governors Association?

    Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) – Excuse me?

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – You are a member of the National Governors Association?

    Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) – Yes.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Is it your understanding from your fellow governors that Vermont is unique in that most state pension funds are in fact underwater or about to go so?

    Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) – It is not my understanding that most are underwater, no.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Mr. Chairman I would ask unanimous consent to enter into the record correspondence provided by the National League of Cities, NACO, NASACT, ICMA, NSRA, and a number of other organizations pointing out, as a matter of fact, that most state pension systems are very solvent and have been, for the, quite stable for the last half century.

    Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) – Have they been received by the parliamentarian yet?

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – I don’t, have been they been received by the parliamentarian? We have copies here Mr. Chairman.

    Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) – Bring them up, we’ll reserve and make a final decision by the end of the hearing. Thank you.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Thank you very much.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Governor Walker, when you, when you campaigned for governor did you campaign on the issue of collective bargaining being a problem with respect to Wisconsin’s budget.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – I talked about wages and benefits overall, even ran campaign ads on it, but I didn’t specify exactly what form. I talked about the broad spectrum and in fact AFT Wisconsin, one of the unions that objected to me on this, actually ran campaign flyers pointing out some of my statements about collective bargaining, mediation, arbitration, and other issues. So that was an issue that was a part of the campaign.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Explicitly?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – Again I didn’t run an ad saying I’m going to do exactly this but I talked about the full range, in fact I talked about it in a couple debates about the factor of the full spectrum of issues.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Good. That’s what I, you know, I had 43 debates when I ran for reelection last year. That’s a lot of debates.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – Didn’t have that many, I’m glad.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Probably more than most members of this, this body.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – That’s impressive.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – And I enjoyed every one of them.

    Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) – That’s also more than most members.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Exactly. But did collective bargaining, in debates with your opponent, you actually brought up collective bargaining and said that’s something I’m going to address if elected governor?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – I talked about the whole spectrum. I talked specifically about the 5 and 12%. They said, “How far are you willing to go?” I said, “I’m willing to change the law from one end of the spectrum whether it’s a modest change or an outright change. I talked about it there, I talked about it again in the transition, I talked about it-

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Well, Governor Walker, I’m asking a very specific question. Did you explicitly-

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Single out

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No.


    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – I talked about the full range.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – So you might concede that some might be surprised then that you made collective bargaining such a centerpiece of your so-called reformed efforts after you were sworn in.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No, I’d say no because for eight years as county executive I not only talked about it I actually brought it up. I did what was called a reality tour where I talked about the challenges, that we were unsustainable and that collective bargaining was driving that.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – So from your point of view, nobody should have been surprised once you were elected and sworn in.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – 100 percent correct.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Were you then surprised at the reaction that generated in your state?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – Not in my state. For eight years I took on the status quo and in a county that’s never elected a Republican before.  I was elected with 54, then 57, then 59 percent because I think in times of crisis people aren’t so much concerned about Republican and Democrat but they want leadership and that’s what we took on. That’s what we’re trying to do at the state level. What did surprise me, candidly, was the level of national attention, the folks that came in from Washington and others to be a part of that debate.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Thank you. Let me ask a quick question – you got a famous phone call from somebody pretending to be David Koch, Koch or however one pronounces it. And he said, “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.” You responded to that by saying, “All right, that would be outstanding.” What did you mean by that and what did you think he meant?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – At that point I was done on the call, I had two other people waiting and I was trying to get off the call to get on to the next issue.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – It wasn’t that you honestly thought it was Mr. Koch and that he was promising to reward you for what you were doing?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – On that regard, no.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – The “flying out to Cali” thing didn’t strike you?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No, I didn’t even know what Cali is.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin in using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – You’ve never had such a conversation?

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – No.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Thank you, my time is up.

    Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) – I’ve spent eight years talking about the challenges as a county official- the fact that I had a union, or a series of unions, from Milwaukee County that constantly told me to lay people off as opposed to making modest changes.

    Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) – Thank you, my time is up.


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