Reality Check: Ad says Walker touring country like 'rock star'

Eight of Walker's 12 top campaign donors were from out of state

Published On: May 18 2012 06:20:12 AM CDT   Updated On: May 31 2012 05:36:25 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's campaign for governor is focusing less on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's in-state campaigning and more on his out-of-state stops in a new ad saying the governor thinks he's a "rock star."

Barrett is pulling out a trick from John McCain's 2008 election playbook: Try to make your opponent look like he thinks he's a celebrity.

"Scott Walker, he thinks he's a rock star," the ad says, playing rock music and showing the governor saying the words "rock star."

WISC-TV found this is misleading. Strip away a few fake camera bulb flashes and selectively edited video and you'll get what Walker actually said in this interview.

"My kids would chuckle for me being called anything rock star," said Walker to The Associated Press. "I just think it's as simple as we've got a clear message and from our standpoint, if it allows us to tell about how we've started to turn things around in Wisconsin, that's good for us."

The ad then shows Walker taking the stage at various events.

"Traveling week after week across the country, a tea party superstar who has raised tens of millions of dollars from out-of-state right-wing donors," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. The governor has been traveling to stops across the country, including the many places scrolling on the screen in the ad. Has he been there "week after week" as the ad suggests? Even by the account given to us by the Barrett campaign, Walker isn't gone every week. The Barrett campaign cited 16 documented out-of-state trips in 2011 and 11 so far in 2012.

But it's hard to know exactly where the governor has been, because he doesn't make his campaign schedule public.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism looked at the governor's official work time versus personal time, and while records don't indicate where he was or what he was doing, his personal time grew to 155 hours in January, when he was documented to have gone to Washington, D.C, Texas and New York for campaign events.

WISC-TV found it is true that the governor has raised millions from out-of-state donors.

His last campaign finance report showed eight of the 12 top donors were from out of state, although his single biggest donor is businesswoman Diane Hendricks of Beloit, giving Walker more than $500,000.

"While Walker has played gigs in Phoenix, Texas, everywhere, Wisconsin has lost more jobs than any other state," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. Jobs numbers until this week had shown yes, in fact, Wisconsin had lost more jobs in 2011 than any other state, dropping nearly 34,000 jobs.

But employment census figures released early by the Walker administration before they have been verified by the U.S. Department of Labor show the state gaining more than 23,000 jobs in 2011. We can't know how that compares yet to other states because the revised jobs figures aren't scheduled to be publicly released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until late June, weeks after the recall election.

WISC-TV is sharing a Reality Check every Thursday ahead of the recall election on June 5. Send your Reality Check ideas to realitycheck@channel3000.com