Well, this is ballsy with a heaping side order of awesome sauce. Buffalo, N.Y. blogger Ian Murphy has gone viral for his prank phone call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The governor is currently embroiled in a battle over a bill that would strip unions of their bargaining rights in the name of cutting the state budget, and Murphy got ticked when he read that Walker wouldn’t take phone calls from state Democrats or unfriendly media types. So he called up the guv himself, impersonating billionaire conservative activist David Koch. The Buffalo Beast web site has been off and on all day due to high traffic, but the audio of their phone conversation is here:

There really isn’t that much incriminating stuff here as liberals might like to think. While large numbers of the Madison protesters think the Koch brothers are evil incarnate, the call actually proves that Walker doesn’t know Koch intimately, or he would have seen through the ruse immediately. Walker’s intransigent stance on the protesters and the bill tallies pretty well with everything he’s said in public, a point that the governor himself made at his press conference responding to the phone call. Murphy-as-Koch suggests that Walker plant thugs among the protesters to stir up trouble, and while Walker’s response is troublesome (“we’ve thought about it”), there’s no evidence in the phone call or anywhere else that he’s actually done it. It’s tempting to imagine all sorts of corruption from Murphy-as-Koch’s offer to fly Walker to California after the bill is passed and show him a good time. (Courtside seats at Laker games! Golf at Pebble Beach! Cocaine! Porn stars!) Yet it’s far more likely that Walker said yes because that’s what you say if a crazy billionaire calls you up and unloads his latest crack-brained ideas on you.

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Still, this audio does reveal Walker’s strategy for tricking the state Democrats into coming back for a meeting in his office while the bill is being passed in the chamber. Some Democrats think this whole incident may have hurt Walker’s standing with his fellow Republicans. Walker also makes himself look vain by comparing himself to Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers in 1981. National Review has an illuminating piece about Walker’s history as a mid-level state official, which taught him that unions eventually cave and media attention eventually goes away. It looks like he’s finding that things are different when you’re operating on a nationwide platform.

Effects elsewhere are already being seen. Indiana Republicans are dropping a similar anti-union bill, saying now is the wrong time. (No kidding.) Also in Indiana, a deputy attorney general has been fired for tweeting that live ammunition should be used on the protesters. Anger management counseling, dude.

If you’re wondering, journalists impersonating other people is an ethical gray area. Some editors would undoubtedly have a problem with Murphy’s actions. Then again, the Times of London organized an elaborate sting last October (with its reporters pretending to be crooked Americans offering bribes) to uncover corruption at the recent World Cup voting. With politicians and institutions increasingly taking the attitude that “we only talk to people who write only nice things about us,” this might be another way to hold public officials accountable. Oh, and Tom Scocca points out on Slate that the savings in the Wisconsin bill will only make a small dent in the budget deficit. His solution: Sell the Green Bay Packers to L.A. There’s an idea that can unite Wisconsinites! In opposition, that is.


  1. “…the call actually proves that Walker doesn’t know Koch intimately,…”

    A whore doesn’t know a john intimately, either. It’s the Koch money Walker knows intimately.

  2. I hope Walker has met his Waterloo, but it doesn’t surprise me that, once again, a “so-very-moral” conservative shows how very dirty he truly is. Take from those that have the least and give to those that have the most is not acceptable. How is it he can give huge tax cuts to big corporations and, at the same time, tell those who have less that THEY must sacrifice because of a deficit that doesn’t even exist. The hoax phone call was pulled on a hoax of a governor and an even lesser human being!

  3. “so-very-moral conservative shows how very dirty he truly is”…How was he “immoral”? Multiple times he was goated by pseudo-Koch and the responses were no different than he has told the public and Wisconsinites for the last year. Extremely clean for political standards, very ‘by the book’

  4. Oh, please don’t demean the Dem senators for being in Illinois. If leaving was the only thing that could be done to stop Walker, then in the words of another conservative a$$hole, “So be it!”

  5. Certainly it was different. We learned what we suspected all along. Walker kept saying it had nothing to do with busting unions. Now he’s admitted it DOES. Bravo to Ian Murphy!!!!

  6. When did Walker say it was about unions? Koch (murphy) implied about unions, Walker did not deny, so then it is an automatic assertion. Of course he is not going to talk back to a campaign donor, just like the scared 14 won’t talk back to the big union. The only one speaking ‘immorally’ was Murphy, Bravo? Yeah, he’s a real gem to look up to!

  7. That’s right. He did not deny it. What’s the matter? Was he afraid to disagree with his BOSS, Mr. Koch? Murphy wasn’t being immoral. He set a trap to catch a rat….and it worked!

  8. Maybe Walker should get Scottie Fitzgerald’s Daddy (The new 68 year old TOP COP of the Wisconsin State Patrol) to hunt down every teacher and throw them in prison.

    Better yet, he should shut off all internet connectivity to the entire state, and force everyone to post his picture in this home. Billy Mitchell … you’re outta here … SCOTTIE HUSSEIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT … where citizens rights don’t matter, and CRONYISM DOES!

  9. I’m assuming, from what you’re saying, Bob, that you’re a conservative. You people make me sick. You’re in everyone’s face and everyone’s business…..including in people’s bedrooms and what a woman does with her body. If your religion tells you that something is wrong, FINE. Then don’t do it yourself. But stop cramming your beliefs down everyone else’s throat. If other people are truly commiting what you perceive to be a “sin,” they’re the ones that have to answer for it………….not YOU! There’s supposed to be a separation of church and state, yet you conservatives keep trying to turn the government into a theocracy. And whie you’re professing to be so “moral,” so many representing your party are more “immoral” than many others. I’ve never seen a bigger bunch of hypocrites.

    Did you hear what Newt Gingrich said when the PA college student how he can run on moral family issues? He was obviously pissed (since he’s had what?……3 divorces?) and said he believes in a forgiving God. Do you conservatives believe God only forgives CONSERVATIVES? If so, get real! If He can forgive the crap many Conservatives pull, He can certainly forgive everyone else’s sins…………IF He even considers them sins!

  10. Why are you against collective bargaining and health insurance and not against huge tax cuts for the wealthy? People have been losing their jobs and having their salaries cut, rendering them UNABLE to pay for health insurance. The conservatives scared the public with threats of the Dems having death panels. You know who’s really creating death panels? Conservatives like AZ Gov. Brewer who’s refusing organ transplants to those who need them. THAT’S who’s creating death panels!

  11. WOW, when did we move from budgets and politics to religion?

    You think you know me, because I point out a differing view? Since you came all ‘you’re a conservative on me’ I see your one-sidedness shining through. What ever happened to liberals being accepting of others and differing views? If you must know, I am an independent voter, who has worked for the State of Wisconsin, still work in the public sector, have been forced to pay union dues, I have observed public sector unions create ‘not my job’ attitudes and have watched my state and my country stack up debt and I like many other in the State of Wisconsin are finally having a politician do EXACTLY what they campaigned on. If only I hadn’t wasted my last Presidential Vote on a fraud.

  12. Walker did NOT run on “no collective bargaining!” And I, as a liberal, am no longer accepting of others’ views when they affect the freedom of others.

  13. Bob, you say you are “forced to pay union dues.” Are you also “forced” to take the benefits that the union negotiates for on your behalf? Do you really believe it is fair to accept all the “goodies” without having to give back? Don’t know about you, but I would consider that accepting “welfare” I believe that attitude is labeled the “right to work.” If you reserve the right not to contribute, then you do not deserve the right to accept the benefits. I’m sure you do not believe in a “free lunch.”

  14. I’m responding to ALL the news, not just what’s going on in WI. Conservatives have proposed banning abortions, being against birth control, and now that idiot in GA wants all miscarriages reported and investigated to make sure no abortions were committed. These are all things I consider freedoms that conservatives are interfering with. Conservastives have lost their minds, if they ever had minds to begin with.

    And, frankly, I don’t see where you have any right to bitch about unions if you’re not going to bitch about a governor who gives corporations tax cuts at the same time he’s bitching about balancing a budget. Why give tax cuts to the wealthy during a budget crisis, yet tell union members they have to make sacrifices? That may make sense to you, but it doesn’t to many of us.

  15. Amen! Amazing how the “Regular Joe” is blamed for all of society’s ills. Alot of people seem to be drinking the rich and powerful’s koolaid. The messages are designed to convince us that we can all be “Rich and Powerful.” STOP believing the lies and fear mongering!

  16. Right on, Lucy. Bob says he’s worked for the state of WI. You’d think he would have seen enough of what goes on in favor of the wealthy while discriminating against the middle class.

  17. Well, this is a WI story about a WI issue.

    Here’s the simple truth, we are broke in WI. We don’t want to end up like CA, IL or NY. We don’t want to finance our debt and our futures. We have 500,000+ without jobs, our ~8% business tax and 7-7.75% has strapped families and strapped small businesses. Businesses are leaving Wisconsin and taking the jobs with them. We have great citizens who want to work! We cannot continue to fund our 300,000+ state funded jobs at the levels of the past because we don’t have the projected revenue of the past. Our workers benefits continue to rise in cost adding to our debt. People across this great state have had to make compromises. Our last Governor, financed our debt, to pay for our debt, which added more debt. 8 of our missing 14 senators were right behind him the whole way. If they stay out of state past Friday, we will miss out on an additional $30M due to low interest rates and State layoffs will need to take place. NO ONE in WI wants this!! Unfortunately, it has to happen because of the budget. I hope the missing 14 come back so we can save 1500 public sector jobs.

    Here’s a question: Why should State of Wisconsin workers be forced to be in a Union?

    End collective bargaining so the employee truly has freedom. Freedom to choose whether to put their hard earned dollars into a political machine or not!

    FYI, WI taxpayers would save a lot of money by simply being able to change our State employee’s health insurance carrier. We are forced by the Union to have the Unions health care (talk about conflict of interest). Eliminating ‘collective bargaining’ would allow this.

  18. Ponder this, Bob. Take back the tax cuts from the corporations and stop placing the burden of the budget deficit on the backs of average Americans. The idea is to get rid of the middle class altogether. Does it have to happen to you personally in order for you to see the big picture? This whole WI budget thing is a big scam.


    In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

    Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit — it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes — or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues — the “crisis” would not exist.

  19. The missing portion of the middle class in WI, are the jobs we lost when businesses left WI. We still have all of our public middle class and they will continue to be here if the missing 14 ever come back to save the public sector jobs.

    This bill only ends collective bargaining for state funded jobs, excluding police and fire. Not private sector union power, don’t confuse the two.

    This bill only starts to help fix some spending issues, we still have alot of work ahead to improve business climate in WI!

  20. It does NOT exclude ALL police and fire. It only excludes the ones who supported Walker. Even THAT is unfair. Walker will allow collective bargaining to those that supported him but not others..

  21. You need a numbers fact check. It was a $120 million tax break not to ‘special interests’ but rather to fund business to come to WI over the course of 2011-2013, don’t confuse this with the 2011 FY budget. This $120 million investment will lead to private sector jobs, which in turn will invest more money into the State allowing us to fund our public sector. It is a delicate balance, unfortunately with human nature we are forced into this ebb and flow which we call democracy. Lets let democracy play out, thanks for the debate, good night!