Could this story affect the Wisconsin governor's recall election on June 5? And, if so, could Virginia's own Rep. Gerry Connolly play a significant role?
Did Gov. Scott Walker lie to a congressional committee under oath? That’s the latest explosive question in an already charged political atmosphere, and three congressmen are seeking answers.
No one – not even Walker’s opponent in the recall race, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is ready to call it perjury — but this is the same congressional committee that questioned disgraced baseball player Roger Clemens, who is now facing a perjury trial.
Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia has raised serious concerns about the truthfulness of Gov. Walker’s testimony under oath before a congressional committee.
Also, check out the press release from House Oversight Committee Democrats, including Rep. Connolly, on the “flip.” The release includes a letter in which the Democratic members ask Chairman Darrel Issa (R) to “write to Governor Walker on behalf of the Committee and request an explanation for why his statements captured on this videotape appear to contradict his testimony before the Committee.” I know, good luck with that (Issa is a right wingnut with zero integrity), but still, it’s good that Connolly et al. are raising this, as lying under oath to Congress is a serious matter.
Oversight Committee Democrats Call for Explanation of
Governor Walker Testimony in Light of New Videotape
Washington, DC (May 21, 2012)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Committee Members Gerald Connolly and Chris Murphy, sent a letter to Chairman Darrell Issa requesting that he obtain from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker clarification of his testimony before the Committee on April 14, 2011, in light of a new videotape that surfaced recently that appears to contradict his statements.
In his testimony before the Committee, Governor Walker claimed that his unprecedented campaign to strip public sector union workers of collective bargaining rights was purely a budgetary decision. In contrast, a videotape taken three months earlier reveals a conversation the Governor had with his biggest campaign donor that suggests his motivation was to “divide and conquer” public sector unions in order to turn Wisconsin into a “completely red state.”
“Congress relies on the accuracy of official testimony to make effective policy determinations, and you have written letters in the past asking witnesses to clarify testimony before our Committee when new information arises,” the Members wrote. “We ask that you write to Governor Walker on behalf of the Committee and request an explanation for why his statements captured on this videotape appear to contradict his testimony before the Committee.”
The full letter follows:
May 21, 2012
The Honorable Darrell E. Issa
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Issa:
We are writing to request that you ask Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to clarify his testimony before our Committee hearing on April 14, 2011, in light of a new videotape taken of Governor Walker three months earlier and an article published last week by The Nation entitled “Did Scott Walker Lie Under Oath to Congress?” Did Scott Walker Lie Under Oath to Congress?, The Nation (May 14, 2012) (online at www.thenation.com/blog/167881/did-scott-walker-lie-under-oath-congress-he-says-no-video-says-yes).
On April 14, 2011, Governor Walker testified before our Committee at a hearing entitled “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.” During the hearing, Governor Walker was asked detailed questions about his unprecedented efforts to roll back protections for state employee unions in Wisconsin. He argued repeatedly that repealing these protections was necessary to help balance his state’s budget. During questioning, Rep. Connolly asked Governor Walker whether he was targeting unions for political purposes rather than budgetary reasons:
Rep. Connolly: Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base?
Rep. Connolly: Never had such a conversation?
Governor Walker: No. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead (Apr. 14, 2011).
The Nation article published last week describes a newly-discovered videotape that reveals a conversation Governor Walker had with Diane Hendricks in January 2011, just after he was sworn in as Governor. Ms. Hendricks is one of Governor Walker’s top campaign donors, and their conversation occurred at the headquarters of a firm owned by Ms. Hendricks. According to the videotape, Governor Walker and Ms. Hendricks discussed how attacks on unions could help Republicans in Wisconsin:
Ms. Hendricks: Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?
Governor Walker: Oh, yeah.
Ms. Hendricks: And become a right-to-work?
Governor Walker: Well, we’ll in fact if they think we are—
Ms. Hendricks: What can we do to help you?
This new video raises serious questions about the veracity of Governor Walker’s testimony before our Committee, in which he repeatedly described his decision to strip public sector union workers of collective bargaining rights in purely economic terms. Instead, this video suggests that his motivation was to “divide and conquer” public sector unions in order to turn Wisconsin into a “completely red state.”
At another point in our hearing, Congressman Murphy asked Governor Walker for his response to comments by a Wisconsin Republican state senator, Scott Fitzgerald, who stated:
If we win this battle and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly, what you are going to find is President Obama is going to have a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the State of Wisconsin. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead (Apr. 14, 2011).
In response, Governor Walker reiterated that his decisions were not intended to undermine unions or their political support for Democrats. He stated: “It’s not about that. It’s ultimately about balancing the budget now and in the future.” Id. Again, the newly discovered video appears to contradict these statements.
Congress relies on the accuracy of official testimony to make effective policy determinations, and you have written letters in the past asking witnesses to clarify testimony before our Committee when new information arises. In this case, it is possible that Governor Walker had forgotten his conversation with his largest campaign donor when he testified before our Committee. We ask that you write to Governor Walker on behalf of the Committee and request an explanation for why his statements captured on this videotape appear to contradict his testimony before the Committee.
We appreciate your consideration of this request.
______________________ ____________________ ____________________
Elijah E. Cummings Gerald E. Connolly Christopher S. Murphy
Ranking Member Member Member
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