It is becoming increasingly clear that members of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s staff who worked for him while he was Executive of Milwaukee County are receiving political payoffs in the form of big raises. Many of those receiving raises were recently placed into new jobs that were created when Walker had the legislature turn three dozen civil service jobs into political appointments. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the biggest winner was Walker’s former top aide, Cindy Archer:
Archer served as Walker’s deputy administration secretary until last month, when she abruptly shifted into a job as legislative liaison at the Department of Children and Families. She is being paid $99,449 a year – $39,129 more than the $60,320 the last person to hold the job made.
Archer’s house was raided by the FBI last Friday as part of an investigation into Walker’s time as Executive of Milwaukee County. Archer began drawing a paycheck for her new position on August 22nd but has yet to be in the office, using the paid medical leave she earned in the past as a state employee. She has not worked for the state since 2003. She is to be paid $99,499 for her new job as legislative liaison which is $39,129 or 65% more than the woman who had the job before her. The Walker administration says that her raise is due to her Master’s degree in public policy, 25 years of experience, and added responsibilities to the position. She is not the only appointee benefiting from the situation, however.
In many cases, the people appointed to the political jobs were the ones who held them as civil servants and are being paid about the same. In a few cases, the political appointees received a slight raise over their predecessors. Some have even seen decreases over what their predecessors made; one is receiving 6% less and another 9% less.
Five of the political appointees received a significant raise from what civil servants were paid, according to information released to the Journal Sentinel.
Mark Rinehart was kept on as the Department of Justice’s legislative liaison, but saw a $10,747 raise when the job was made political. That 18% boost put his salary at $70,992.
The Department of Justice brought on a new spokeswoman, Dana Brueck, at $78,000 a year. That is 10% higher than the $70,702 that former spokesman Bill Cosh made.
They aren’t the only ones, though, and while it seems natural that a person should get a raise when given added responsibilities, the combination of the law being changed to allow appointments and the overall lack of transparency from the Walker Administration have cast a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of the situation.
The political appointments were created in the same legislation that eliminated most collective bargaining for public employees and required them to pay more for their health care and pensions. Paying more for benefits is costing an average state employee making $50,000 a year about $4,400, or 9%. Walker insisted most employees had to pay those costs because the state is “broke.”
Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf said by email that the jobs were turned into political appointments because they “play a substantial role in developing and communicating the administration’s agenda.”
Higher pay was warranted in some cases because of new duties, Schrimpf said.
He declined to answer whether Walker believed the pay for Archer and some other appointees was appropriate. Schrimpf also did not address why some of the positions should receive substantial increases when rank-and-file employees were receiving less pay.
As in the past, we are likely to see more juice trickle out of this fraudulent fruit as the FBI tugs the vine. What is already clear is that those who have been with Walker the longest are benefiting the most from the laws he changes or chooses to ignore as Governor of Wisconsin.