Mary Burke Will Avoid Act 10 in 2014 Campaign

Mary Burke has been largely incoherent on Act 10. Sometimes she opposes, sometimes she likes the healthcare and pension provisions, sometimes she wants to reinstate collective bargaining rights, and sometimes she simply didn't like that the law was divisive.

Now, in recent comments to Slate.com, Mary Burke’s spokesman took Act 10 off the table as a campaign issue.


Though she opposes Act 10, Burke doesn’t want to use that as a wrecking ball against Walker, according to Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki. Instead, they’ll be campaigning on jobs and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour—an idea 62 percent of voters support and Walker vehemently opposes.

Peculiar phrasing aside (wrecking ball?), Mary Burke is waving the white flag on Act 10. Burke is saying she won’t go any further than saying she opposes the two and a half year old law.

Mary Burke still has to win over the true believers. She hasn’t earned the support of those who were marching in Madison in 2011, and she is clearly not big labor’s candidate. In a December interview, AFSCME’s Marty Beil called Burke’s endorsement of the healthcare and pension provisions of Act 10 "stupid." The Nation magazine’s John Nichols warned Burke’s Act 10 comments "would no doubt be noted."

Act 10 is not going to be a pleasant issue for Mary Burke. If Burke embraces a full repeal of Act 10, she loses her "independent" moniker and risks having to explain why she would support reversing legislation that has saved Wisconsin taxpayers in the neighborhood of $3 billion. But taking the approach she has risks frustrating and depressing the enthusiasm of her base of potential volunteers and donors. 


More on Mary Burke's Chief Strategist

Earlier this week we asked if Mary Burke's mirror was cracked. As she lambasted Scott Walker for alleged misdeeds by his staff, she was paying for services from one of the Capitol’s most notorious staffers. While even the mainstream media touched on this story, they failed to capture the breadth and depth of illegal activity and coordination Tanya Bjork was associated with, and in which she admitted to engaging.

Tanya Bjork held the position of Assembly Democratic Caucus Director in 2000. She worked for Minority Leader, Representative Shirley Krug (D-Milwaukee). During interviews with the John Doe prosecutors looking into what is commonly referred to as the "Caucus Scandal," Tanya Bjork provided explicit testimony regarding the political activity of herself and her staff. Bjork admitted she led efforts to have state employees raise campaign funds while on state time, compile lists of voters and contributor lists while on state time, develop campaign finance software while on state time, and coordinate the activities of a supposedly independent PAC.

In her testimony, Tanya Bjork said she helped Krug set up and administer a conduit called Badger 2000 as well as a Political Action Committee (PAC) called the Wisconsin Voter Education Fund (WVEF). WVEF swore to the then Elections Board that it was engaging in independent expenditures unaffiliated with any candidate or candidate's committee. In the 2000 campaign, that group, with the assistance of Bjork, raised and spent more than $300,000 to support assembly candidates, making it the third highest "independent" spender in that cycle. 

Bjork left the ADC to work for former State Senator Brian Burke. She was charged with 2 misdemeanors in 2002 in connection to her work for Burke, who is no relation to her current employer, Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke. Bjork would plead no contest  to the charges and was ordered to pay a $250 fine and complete 50 hours of community service. Among other things, she was accused of altering state documents to hide her boss' political activities. Burke, her boss, was convicted of a felony and misdemeanor in 2005 

Jim Doyle, a close adviser to the Mary Burke campaign, would later take care of Bjork, hiring her to lobby in Washington on the state's behalf. She made more than $100,000 while working for Doyle. So far, Bjork has earned two payments of $10,000 from Mary Burke according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

I have no idea if she sent an off-color email 16 years ago, but Tanja Bjork's violations of the law are well known--and were well known to Mary Burke when she hired her to run her campaign for governor.

Quick Hits
  • The Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican Governors Association raised serious questions about Mary Burke’s ever-changing resume. Team Burke keeps deflecting the questions by saying they are distractions. We’ll see if the mainstream media gives her a pass on this.
  • Media Trackers is raising questions about whether Rep. Tom Petri actually lives at his Fond Du Lac home. It is a well known that Petri spends the majority of his time in Georgetown - but conflicting answers from Petri’s spokesman raise questions about how much time the Congressman spends in Wisconsin. Keep an eye on this story as it develops.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson demanded an apology from Senate Majority Harry Reid after he called Obamacare victims liars. It might behoove some reporters in this state to ask whether Tammy Baldwin agrees with Reid’s characterization.