Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndyKroll.

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VIDEO: Scott Walker's Divide-and-Conquer Strategy Is "The New Model for the Country"

| Sat Jun. 2, 2012 12:49 PM EDT

Coming soon to your state: The anti-union, education-cutting, free-market-leaning, divide-and-conquer playbook of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

According to a leading conservative activist, the Walker agenda in Wisconsin is the new conservative game plan for all states in the union. That was the key message delivered at a rally Friday evening in Madison by Tim Phillips, national president of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative nonprofit started with money from the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. "The Wisconsin approach to changing and making state government better is the new model for the country," he said. "You are the model for the country."

Here a video of Phillips' remarks:

Since taking office in January 2011, Walker has slashed collective bargaining rights for public-employee unions, cut funding to public schools by $800 million, signed a controversial voter ID bill that critics say discriminates against students and minorities, and approved a divisive redistricting bill that benefitted his fellow GOP lawmakers. Walker managed to eliminate a $3.6 billion deficit, but did so, his critics say, at the expense of workers' rights, teachers and students, and the public sector as a whole. In a January 2011 conversation with billionaire businesswoman Diane Hendricks, a top donor of his, Walker admitted that his plan was to "divide and conquer" the unions in Wisconsin. Walker's agenda has turned Wisconsin into the most polarized state in America.

This agenda, AFP's Tim Phillips insisted, is the new model for state governments. "Today every other governor in the country and every state legislator in the country is watching Wisconsin," he said. "Because the Wisconsin approach to changing and making state government better is the new model for the country. You are the model for the country. For fiscal prosperity and economic freedom and getting the state moving again. You're the model!"

The June 5 recall election targeting Walker is seen as a referendum on his divisive politics and policies; tea partiers say the recall is "ground zero for the battle against Obama's liberal agenda." Walker's defeat on Tuesday would deal a blow to his hard-line conservative playbook. A win, however, could validate his brand of governing, give momentum to Republicans' efforts to win state and federal elections in the Badger State, and even convince Mitt Romney's presidential campaign to make a play for a state Barack Obama won by 14 percentage points in 2008. Even more, it might convince other state politicians to follow Phillips' advice and adopt the Walker agenda as their own.

Bill Clinton: Scott Walker's "Divide And Conquer" Strategy Is Un-American

| Fri Jun. 1, 2012 3:19 PM EDT
Bill Clinton, left, and Tom Barrett at a rally in Milwaukee on June 1, 2012.

Former President Bill Clinton whipped a crowd of thousands into a frenzy Friday morning at a rally in downtown Milwaukee to support Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the challenger hoping to defeat Gov. Scott Walker in next week's recall election.

Clinton hailed Barrett's record on job creation in Milwaukee and his willingness to negotiate with unions, Republicans, and other stakeholders on tough financial decisions. The former president devoted even more of his 18-minute speech to slamming Walker, now 17 months into his first term as governor, for dividing Wisconsinites and sowing a climate of "constant conflict." Clinton went so far as to paint Walker's us-versus-them politics as contrary to the American spirit. "This divide-and-conquer, no-compromise crowd, if they had been in control, there never would have been a US Constitution," he said.

Clinton's visit was a last-minute addition to the slate of get-out-the-vote events by Democrats and Republicans on the eve of the June 5 recall. The event featured speeches from Mahlon Mitchell, the Democrats' candidate in the lieutenant gubernatorial recall, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democratic Party chief Mike Tate, and Barrett himself.

Scott Walker Aide Wanted Union Foe Michelle Rhee to Counter Teacher Protests, Email Shows

| Fri Jun. 1, 2012 6:32 AM EDT
Former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Days after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker "dropped the bomb" on his state's public employees last year by proposing to cut most of their collective bargaining rights, a top Walker aide suggested bringing controversial school reform advocate and union foe Michelle Rhee to Wisconsin to quell potential teacher protests, according to newly released internal emails.

On February 12, 2011, the day after Walker unveiled his anti-union budget "repair" bill known as Act 10, Walker's communications director Chris Schrimpf told colleagues that he believed teachers would put up a formidable fight over Walker's assault on unions. "It seems from the coverage overall that the teachers are going to be the greatest opposition to this, which makes sense since they are in every community and can talk about 'the kids,'" Schrimpf wrote. "Communicating to them and correcting their message will be key." Schrimpf suggested sending letters to teachers, superintendents, and school boards touting Walker's bill.

In a subsequent email, Schrimpf takes his teacher outreach idea one step further by bringing up Rhee: "I wonder if we should talk to michelle rhee's group, students first. If we could get her to come do something that would give us a lot."

Here's the exchange with Schrimpf's emails, released as part of an open records request:

 
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