The Scott Walker for Governor Campaign tonight sent out emails to media accusing Walker's Primary opponent Mark Neumann's campaign of being responsible for deceptive calls to delegates to the upcoming Wisconsin state convention. Neumann Campaign Spokesman Chris Lato told the AP today the calls paid for by Neumann were nothing more than one in several attempts at voter outreach. The AP quotes Lato as saying "There's nothing nefarious about this."
But the Walker Campaign in its email tonight included the names of several delegates who said callers identified themselves as being from the Republican Party of Wisconsin and attempted to dissuade the delegates from endorsing a candidate at the upcoming convention in May. One of those delegates, Kathleen Kiernan is quoted as saying when she pressed the person who called her to say who they were representing, the caller hung up. Kiernan has filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board. Other delegates quoted in the documents provided by the Walker campaign tell of similar calls.
I reached out tonight for comment from Lato and so far have not heard back. Those are the facts; here's the way it looks to me: Lato admitted the Neumann campaign is behind the calls, he says "there's nothing nefarious." Several delegates to the state convention tell a similar story; that the caller represented themself as being from the State Republican Party. This is obviously false. These delegates also say they were being discouraged from a candidate endorsement.
Earlier in this campaign the Neumann campaign also appeared to be spreading rumors that Walker was going to drop out of this race. Lato's denials rang hollow then, they ring hollow now. Of course, if Lato appears on my show tomorrow, as I requested in an email, or makes Neumann available to do so, we'll see if Chris can produce a more credible defense. Is he going to accuse the delegates of lying? Is he going to backtrack on his statement to the AP that the Neumann campaign paid for the calls?
As Walker consultant R.J. Johnson points out:
Only their two campaigns have received the Delegates Alternate list from the State Party...and only one ballot question was asked in the phone calls: who do you support for Governor? If the delegate indicated they supported Walker, the script then cited a St. Norbert poll that suggests the race is a dead heat, and then pushed them not to endorse at the convention.
If Lato is going to continue to insist this isn't "nefarious" is he going to deny this is the nature of the calls? Is he going to call several delegates liars? Is he going to now claim the Neumann campaign didn't pay for these calls? Let's hope Chris comes on the air to answer these questions or makes Mark Neumann available to address them himself. If neither happens, the silence will be deafening...