Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate squaring off against Gov. Scott Walker, took a shot at the first-term Republican by saying the release of recent emails shows that he sets a "low bar for campaign ethics."ADDED: The liberal blog Blogging Blue wrote about the Bjork hire last October:
Now Walker's allies are firing back.
Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, pointed out this week that Burke has hired Tanya Bjork, who was convicted of two misdemeanors in 2005 for altering public records and soliciting campaign funds in the Capitol. Bjork is a senior adviser with the Burke campaign.
Thompson said Bjork's role with the campaign "completely invalidates" Burke's criticism of Walker over information found in the release of more than 27,000 pages of emails from a Walker aide during the 2010 election.
"Before Mary Burke preaches about ethical standards, she needs to take a good long look in the mirror," said Thompson, whose group has been running a six-figure ad campaign attacking Burke.
Ultimately, I’m disappointed in the move because in hiring Bjork, the Burke campaign sacrifices the political “high road” it would have been able to take in regards to Gov. Scott Walker’s close ties former aides of his who were convicted of criminal behavior while they were working for then-County Executive Walker.That last point is very close to something I was going to say when Scott Walker was criticized last month for letting a convicted criminal appear on the stage — along with a dozen other Wisconsin citizens who'd recently gotten new jobs.
However, while bringing Bjork on board as a member of the Burke campaign is troublesome, at what point do we continue to demonize her for the mistakes she’s made in the past without giving her a second chances to prove she’s learned from those mistakes? There’s absolutely no denying Tanya Bjork broke the law, but she took responsibility and was punished for the crimes she committed, and she should be given an opportunity to move in a positive direction.
Christopher Barber, a 32-year-old welder ... wore his welding helmet and work gloves on stage. He waved to the audience in the Assembly chamber as he left the podium and Walker turned around and applauded.Walker was barraged with bad publicity, even though he didn't know that Barber had been convicted of third-degree sexual assault, he only had Barber standing behind him in a group for a few seconds, and he would not have included him if he'd known. I didn't get around to blogging about this, because contrary to what some of my fellow Wisconsin citizens may think, I don't jump at every occasion to defend Scott Walker. But if I'd gotten around to it, I would have said that it's good when someone who has served time in prison is able to become a productive member of society.
"Every time we help someone find a job, it makes for a strong home, a stronger community, and a stronger state," Walker said during his speech as Barber and the others stood behind him.
I'd have been happy to see Scott Walker share the stage with a whole group of convicted criminals who have now found jobs. Do people want someone who has served time to be a pariah for the rest of his life? It's not as if Walker hired someone who committed a crime into a position of trust, which is what Burke has done with Bjork. And note that Bjork's crime involved dishonesty in a position of public trust.
Cruel neutrality. That's my approach. I hope that hurt.
AND: I note the potential for arguing that a "registered sex offender" like Barber is different from people like Bjork who were convicted of a crime, served their sentence, and are now going forward without an equivalent official mark of disrepute warning others of a propensity to commit crimes like that.
But why don't we keep a "dishonest public servant" registry for people convicted of crimes like Bjork's? What's the point of these registries? Only to signal that past crimes create a risk of future crimes and to give us the opportunity to take precautions. Why are we suspicious of Barber's character -- in relation to his work as a welder — but not to Bjork's — in relation to her work in politics?