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Political Analyst: News of Secret Walker Donation Isn't Likely to Sway Voters

Mike Kalasnik

A spokeswoman for Governor Scott Walker says context is lacking in a report about a major gift to Walker's 2010 campaign. The story, by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, was published yesterday in the online Yahoo News service. 

It details a reported $1.5 million dollar donation from John Menard, Jr., to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a major backer of Walker's political efforts. Menard is the billionaire owner of Menards, the Wisconsin-based hardware chain.

Isikoff cites several unnamed sources who corroborate the story, saying that Menard was looking for a way to support Walker without calling attention to his donation. Club for Growth is not required to disclose its donor list.

The story goes on to report that Menards has subsequently been deemed eligible for $1.8 million dollars in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which is under Walker's purview. It also notes that the state has ratcheted down enforcement of some environmental regulations, which Menard had publicly opposed as well.

The governor's spokeswoman says key details were omitted in the report and that Menards had received no favorable treatment by the state.

Are these new allegations of influence-peddling likely to have a political fallout for Scott Walker’s presidential campaign?

Julia Azari was quoted in the Yahoo News story. She is an assistant professor in the political science department at Marquette University. Azari told Lake Effect's Mitch Teich that she didn't find anything especially surprising in the article and isn't likely to sway voters either way.

"The...thing that I think is part of this, as far as how it gets integrated into a political narrative, is really about the competitive context," she said. "Who is going to use it against Walker? Who has the incentive to do so and who is going to find it advantageous?"