MADISON — Did Gov. Scott Walker lie to a congressional committee under oath? That’s the latest explosive question in an already charged political atmosphere, and three congressmen are seeking answers.
No one – not even Walker’s opponent in the recall race, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is ready to call it perjury — but this is the same congressional committee that questioned disgraced baseball player Roger Clemens, who is now facing a perjury trial.
Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia has raised serious concerns about the truthfulness of Gov. Walker’s testimony under oath before a congressional committee.
The controversy centers on two pieces of videotape. The first is from April 14th, 2011. Walker was asked to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about his budget.
Walker was asked by Congresman Connolly: “Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin in using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base?” Walker’s response was “no.”
Two weeks ago, video surfaced that was recorded three months prior to Walker’s congressional testimony as part of a documentary called “As Goes Janesville.” Walker speaks to a billionaire businesswoman, and the largest single donor to his campaign, Diane Hendricks.
The exchange was recorded as follows:
Diane Hendricks: “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?”
Walker: “Oh, yeah.”
Hendricks: “And become a right-to-work? What can we do to help you?”
Walker: “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”
“I’m not accusing the governor of perjury, but I am asking him to explain himself because there’s a blatant contradiction between the two and they’re both on videotape. We now know that three months before that exchange he had just such a conversation with Diane Hendricks, his biggest donor, in which she was asking how do we turn Wisconsin red. He said first we go after collective bargaining and that’s all part of a divide and conquer strategy. Those are his words. That’s on it’s face contradictory to the testimony he provided under oath in answer to my question,” Congressman Connolly said.
Connolly, along with ranking member Elijah Cummings and Congressman Christopher Murphy all signed a letter to Republican Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. The letter asks Issa to press Walker for “an explanation for why his statements captured on videotape appear to contradict his testimony before the committee.”
Congressman Issa’s spokeswoman told FOX6 News in a statement: “Nothing in this letter raises questions about the accuracy of the governor’s testimony. This request has no merit, and can only be seen as intending to influence a state election.”
“My issue here is that people tell the truth, especially when they’re under oath before a congressional committee, and before anybody casts a vote in this pending recall election, they’re entitled to know if the two candidates are telling the truth. In this case, this is under oath. This isn’t a pass off statement at a press conference. This is prepared testimony and answers to questions in a congressional hearing under oath,” Connolly said.
FOX6 News spoke with Gov. Walker before this story broke. He spoke generically about his integrity as an elected official. ‘The bottom line is, my integrity. I’ve always had high standards in the state Assembly and in my time as County Executive, and as governor I continue to have those high standards,” Walker said.
Walker’s campaign did not respond to several requests for comment. His official spokesman sent FOX6 News a statement saying: “It`s ironic that Democrats in Washington D.C. criticize Governor Walker for passing a budget, since they have now gone more than 1,000 days without enacting one for our federal government. They should spend less time on political stunts and more time eliminating the crippling burden of debt their lack of action has placed on our next generation.”
“This is very rare because there is that video out there that raises some questions with what he said in Congress as it pertained to that donor. It is so serious to people who have raised this question, that they want to have some follow up,” Barrett said.
“There are serious questions about the governor’s testimony that need to be answered,” Connolly said.
If this were to be further investigated, Walker could face a trial, but that’s unlikely because the committee chairman essentially dismissed the letter and is not likely to pursue the matter.