You don’t have to be a campaign donor or corporate executive to get an audience with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But it doesn’t hurt.
Walker received contributions from employees or political action committees at more than half of the 130-plus companies that appear in his official calendars, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
These employees and PACs gave Walker at least $1.5 million since May 2009, just after he declared his candidacy for governor.
“Wisconsin is Open for Business,” the Republican governor proclaimed in a press release on the night he was elected. His calendars from January 2011 through January 2012 bear out this stance, revealing a steady stream of contacts with top company officials.
Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said the governor’s calendars reflect his priorities.
“Gov. Walker has been working hard to encourage job creators to expand in Wisconsin,” Werwie said in an email interview. “It should be no surprise that those interested in creating jobs in Wisconsin would meet with the governor.”
Center reporters pored through more than 4,400 calendar entries during this 13-month period to tally Walker’s contacts.
The analysis suggested that big donors got more access. Three-quarters of all PACs that have given Walker at least $20,000 are associated with companies that show up on his calendar. In contrast, about a quarter of the PAC donors that gave under $20,000 are listed.
Companies and their executives appear in Walker’s calendars in jobs announcements, factory tours, check presentations, phone calls and private meetings — sometimes labeled “no media,” as with 3M and Caterpillar Inc.
The list includes many big businesses, such as Harley-Davidson, IBM, Northwestern Mutual, Johnsonville Sausage, Walgreens and Uline. No one company ...