Conflict of Interest, Lack of Integrity, Appearance of Impropriety…Other Than That, Gov. Walker, It’s A Great Hire!

"Why, no, his father's financial support played absolutely no part in his landing this plum job...I mean, just LOOK at him! He blew the competition away!"

Politics involves deals and trade-offs, quid pro quos and mutual back-scratching. The trick is to be a politician without undermining the public trust, and using those deals to benefit, not harm, the public interest. That means that certain deals, even relatively typical ones, may be unforgivable under certain circumstances. A prime example: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s hiring of Brian Deschane to oversee environmental and regulatory matters and a large staff at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Only in his mid-twenties, Brian Deschane was hired by Walker as a return back-scratch to his dad, Jerry Deschane, executive vice president and longtime lobbyist for the Madison-based Wisconsin Builders Association. Between PAC contributions and the gifts of individual members, the association has put $121,652 into Walker’s campaign during the last two years.  Hiring an employment-troubled child of a political ally is so traditional—though unethical, since public jobs are not any elected leader’s personal currency—that hardly anyone even raises an eyebrow over it any more. But this one is especially bad:

  • Young Deschane has no college degree.
  • He has never had a job that wasn’t set up by his father’s connections.
  • He has almost no management experience.
  • He has no environmental or regulatory expertise.
  • He has two DUI convictions.
  • He has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.
  • His current annual salary is $81,500.

Oh…and both the elder Deschane and Walker’s spokesman insist that the son got the job based only on his “impressive resume.” Nobody, including Brian Deschane, can possibly believe that.

Now place all this in the context of Walker’s contentious crusade to cut Wisconsin’s budget, by, among other things, adding additional financial burdens on public employees, and we have enough of an ethical violation to make any Wisconsin citizen question Walker’s honesty, seriousness, and trustworthiness—even if the kid is, as his father has assured the press, a hidden gem, a star in the making, and really bright, motivated individual who “made some mistakes.”

This is a huge, ugly, screaming example of the appearance of impropriety engaged in by a leader who has a particular strong obligation to appear fair and beyond the reach of financial influence right now.

The refrain of a haunting  Pete Seeger classic keeps going through my head….

 

15 thoughts on “Conflict of Interest, Lack of Integrity, Appearance of Impropriety…Other Than That, Gov. Walker, It’s A Great Hire!

  1. Please don’t add that picture to your collage. That’s the second-worst picture you’ve posted (and I think we’ve discussed what the first one was)…

  2. By all means, let’s focus on the Pete Seeger song instead of Governor Walker. He hired a young man because of money connections, in spite of the fact that this new employee:

    * Has no college degree.
    * has never had a job that wasn’t set up by his father’s connections.
    * Has almost no management experience.
    * Has no environmental or regulatory expertise.
    * Has two DUI convictions.
    * Has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.
    * Has a current annual salary is $81,500.

    Every shred of credibility Walker used to have regarding the state budget and the teacher’s union controversy is irreparably damaged by this little pay-back.

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