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Scott Walker Snuck Ringers Into Budget Speech

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker defied a court order to ban citizens from the capitol building during his budget address. Citizens were left out in the cold while Walker’s allies were smuggled in, possibly through hidden civil defense tunnels, Abe Sauer reports in the Awl:

Walker entered to thunderous applause, though not from the Democrats, who refused to rise. At least two-thirds of the East audience galley was loudly applauding but they had nothing on the West coast. It was now clear who the men in business attire were. Nearly without exception, the west gallery was all men in black suits and, when the governor said something meaningful, they all rose and applauded, and they did it with verve and volume. I’m not saying these guys were not from Wisconsin, but if you know Wisconsin, you know for a fact that even for most businessmen, black suits are not part of the wardrobe. In general, the only time one will see a large gathering of Wisconsin men in black suits is at a funeral, or, apparently at a Governor Walker budget address.

Reporter Kristin Knutsen found evidence that many of these ringers may have entered through the capitol’s access tunnels, noting the presence of the Division of Criminal Investigation—the same officers I saw upstairs outside the Assembly chambers following the address escorting unidentified men.

A spokesman for Walker denies that supporters were smuggled in through one particular tunnel, which runs between the Capitol and the Department of Justice. Capitol staffers use that tunnel on a regular basis. Alderman Byron Eagon tweeted a photo of security guarding the entrance to the tunnel today. It’s not clear whether the guards were there to keep protesters out, or smuggle the suits in, or both.

There are reportedly other tunnels into the Capitol building. No word on whether the Walker administration has denied using any of these, or smuggling in supporters in any other fashion. I’ve read that the only civilians who could get in the door were those with an appointment with a legislator. Maybe the Republicans just gave the suits “appointments” at the Potemkin Village. 

Regardless of how the Men in Black got in, they were admitted to a Walker-controlled building while everyone else was illegally shut out.

[Photo: The Awl.]

The idea of forgery resonates more than ever today in a culture in which “the open exchange of ideas has been rebranded as piracy.” 

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