Prank call embarrasses Wisconsin’s Walker

PRANK CALL EMBARRASSES WISCONSIN’S WALKER…. Yep, the call everyone’s been talking about is, in fact, legit.

Here’s something for your “can this possibly be for real” file this morning. Over at the Buffalo Beast — the former print alt-weekly turned online newspaper founded by onetime editor Matt Taibbi, typically best known for its annual list of “The 50 Most Loathsome Americans” — there appear to be recordings of a phone call between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and current editor Ian Murphy. Now, why on earth would Scott Walker want to talk on the phone with the editor of an online site in Buffalo? Well, he wouldn’t.

But what if said editor pretended to be David Koch of the famed Koch Brothers? Well, that’s a different story altogether, apparently! And so Walker, believing himself to be on the phone with his patron, seems to have had a long conversation about busting Wisconsin’s unions.

Buffalo Beast Publisher Paul Fallon told The Huffington Post that the audio is “absolutely legit.” That the call took place as described by the Beast has been confirmed by Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie.

The site that conducted the prank and posted the original story is no longer accessible — the traffic surge brought it down — but the conversation between Walker and the man impersonating Koch is on YouTube. Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

The governor’s office confirmed this morning that Walker fell for the prank, but added, “The phone call shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public.”

That’s largely true, but not entirely. Let’s walk through this story a bit.

First, it’s remarkable Ian Murphy, pretending to be Koch, even got through. He talked to Walker’s chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, and said he couldn’t leave a return number because, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” This, oddly enough, led Gilkes to invite “Koch” to call back and speak directly to the governor.

Second, and more important, is the fact that Walker talked about a scheme to bring state Senate Democrats back to the capitol.

“An interesting idea that was brought up to me by my chief of staff, we won’t do it until tomorrow, is putting out an appeal to the Democratic leader. I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders — talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn — but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly. They can recess it… the reason for that, we’re verifying it this afternoon, legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum because it’s turned out that way. So we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why.”

In other words, Walker’s plan was to bring Dems back under false pretenses, set the trap, then screw them over. So much for the notion of acting in good faith.

And third, when the Koch impersonator suggested a scheme involving “planting some troublemakers” among the protestors, Walker conceded, “[W]e thought about that,” before explaining that he questioned its impact. Perhaps the governor’s office can clarify this one — it’s certainly not what the governor has been saying “in public.”

When the site is back up, the online transcript is certainly worth reading. At a minimum, it casts Walker in a very negative light — again — at a crucial time in the larger controversy. For those wondering if perhaps the governor is in over his head, the comments he made on this call won’t generate renewed confidence in his abilities.