When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a phone call that he thought was from billionaire campaign donor David Koch, he described the secret meeting of his cabinet at which he outlined the “budget repair bill” that stripped collective bargaining protections from public employees and teachers, replaced civil servants with political cronies and made it possible to sell off public utilities in no-bid deals with out-of-state corporations.
Walker was talking himself up as a new Ronald Reagan, in hopes of impressing one of the primary funders of conservative projects in the United States. But his comments revealed the previously unknown details regarding the political machinations behind a piece of legislation so controversial that it would provoke mass demonstrations, court battles and legislative recall elections.
“This is an exciting time,” the governor told “Koch“ in late February. “This is, you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, excuse me, Monday right after the 6th, came home from the Super Bowl where the Packer’s won, that Monday night, I had all my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, we had already kind of doped plans up, but it was kind of a last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb and I stood up and I pulled out a, a picture of Ronald Reagan and I said you know this may seem a little melodramatic but 30 years ago Ronald Reagan whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before um had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers and uh I said to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations and or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward the Soviets and the communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover and uh, I said this may not have as broad a world implications but in Wisconsin’s history—little did I know how big it would be nationally, in Wisconsin’s history, I said, this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history and this is why it’s so important that they were all there.”
E-mails obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy reveal that the cabinet was indeed present for the meeting. The secretaries and gubernatorial aides who were present are listed. But so, too, is one other key player in the administration: the individual identified in e-mails from key players in the Walker administration as the “point person” for the governor’s push to radically restructure labor relations and state government—a project so significant to Walker that he declared, “This is our moment.”