Another incriminating cache of emails, another Republican governor facing harsh questions and once more the hounds of political
There are, however, important differences between the controversies surrounding Wisconsin’s
On Wednesday, Wisconsin investigators released thousands of pages of documents regarding public employees doing inappropriate political work for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive, before his 2010 election as governor. The emails were tied to a former Walker aide who pleaded guilty to felony misconduct. Several others were also convicted.
The governor was not charged in the case, but a separate inquiry continues into possible campaign violations in Walker's successful fight against a 2012 recall attempt.
In New Jersey, Christie’s administration faces a barrage of subpoenas regarding the closures of lanes approaching the
Without diminishing the import of the allegations against Walker, he appears in far better shape politically than Christie, barring further revelations. (Which could become a motto in 2016: "Vote for ____, unless something else comes out.")
Here are several reasons why Walker is likely to suffer less than Christie has:
— A traffic jam is something readily understandable to people. So is politically motivated vengeance. Now watch as the late-night comics and political satirists struggle to wring humor out of events in Milwaukee.
Whether or not Christie knew about the lane closures, the snarky facts — "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," a Christie staffer emailed to set the chaos in motion — offer the perfect recipe for an indelibly damaging, and shocking, narrative. By contrast, public employees helping out the boss on company time is about as surprising as a politician seeking campaign contributions from individuals with a stake in government decisions. It may be untoward, smelly and even unethical, but it happens every day in city halls and state capitals across the country.
— Christie is head of the Republican Governors Assn., traveling the country for the benefit of the
— Taking nothing away from Wisconsin’s political reporters, there is nothing this side of a starving piranha so voracious as
— The documents released Wednesday grew out of an old investigation. Prosecutors are just now starting their inquiry into Christie's doings, which means his administration will be tied up with subpoenas, lawyers and depositions for months, at a minimum. That is not only incredibly time consuming and debilitating, but even with no wrongdoing there is always the prospect of investigators turning up something wholly unrelated but even more damaging. (See Clinton, Bill; Starr, Kenneth; and Whitewater.)
— Foremost, perhaps, is the fact that Walker is up for reelection in November. While a second term is far from certain, if he wins and decides to pursue the
For the record, 12:40 p.m. Feb. 20: A previous version of this post referred to the Whitewater prosecutor as Kevin Starr. He is Kenneth Starr.