Having scrutinized not just Bridgegate but also Chris Christie’s first political campaign (20 years ago) and even his high school baseball playing days, the Washington Post turns to the next installment of its “Attack Plausible Challengers to Hillary Clinton” series. This time it trains its guns on Scott Walker, in a front-page, above-the-fold story.
Unlike with Christie, however, this time the Post’s weaponry turns out to consist entirely of pop guns.
The Post focuses on two criminal investigations of Republican political activity in Wisconsin. One of the investigations never targeted Walker and he was not charged. The other investigation began late last year and the Post does not claim that it has uncovered any wrongdoing on Walker’s part.
Where, then, is the beef? The Post purports to find it in 25,000 pages of emails released this week. It says that some of the emails “have the potential to embarrass” Walker. But the emails were part of the evidence that caused prosecutors not to charge the Governor. Thus, it’s difficult to see how they will hurt Walker’s candidacy if he decides to run for President.
During the time period at issue, Walker was Milwaukee’s County Executive and also a candidate for Governor. The issue under investigation was the alleged performance of campaign work on the County’s dime. Two of Walker’s aides were found guilty of this. As noted, though, Walker was never a target of the investigation, nor was he charged.
The Post says, however, that emails show Walker directing his political campaign to coordinate on a daily basis with County staff. Since Walker could not appear in two places at once, coordination between the two staffs was altogether appropriate. From being a crime, coordination was an imperative.
The Post also sniffs that Walker used a campaign email account to communicate with county staff members. But this is not performing campaign work on the County’s dime. Again, where’s the beef?
The Post’s suggestion that this non-story could hurt Walker if he runs for president is ironic given that President Obama received a pass for using government resources in his reelection campaign, with the Post among those who largely winked at this practice.
As Jim Geraghty reminds us, Obama passed off campaign travel as “official events,” taped fundraising videos at the White House, and sent blatantly political and partisan messages sent through the Department of Defense’s communication system. The Post, says Geraghty, never gave front-page, above-the-fold treatment to any of these activities.
What’s next from the Washington Post, an expose on Walker’s days as an Eagle Scout?