By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A fourth former Cabinet secretary in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is slamming the Republican incumbent, releasing a letter on Thursday signed by two others calling for the election of the Democrat Tony Evers.
Paul Jadin, a former mayor of Green Bay and and the first secretary of Walker’s economic development agency, signed an open letter with former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall and former Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten sharply criticizing Walker and calling for Evers’ election.
“Governor Walker has consistently eschewed sound management practices in favor of schemes or coverup and has routinely put his future ahead of the state,” Jadin, Wall and Bildsten wrote. “The result is micromanagement, manipulation and mischief. We have all been witness to more than our share of this.”
Walker’s campaign issued a statement praising the work of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. since Jadin left in November 2012, without responding to the letter’s criticisms.
Walker and Evers are locked in a tight battle for governor with the election just 19 days away. They were to meet on Friday night for the first of a pair of debates.
Jadin, Wall and Bildsten say in the letter they will not vote for Walker because of how he has handled policies involving schools, transportation and safety.
Wall and Bildsten both have spoken out against Walker before and have recorded videos for Evers’ campaign. Former Transportation Department Secretary Mark Gottlieb has also been critical of Walker but did not sign the letter and has not publicly endorsed Evers.
Evers’ campaign spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, said the criticism from Walker’s former secretaries speaks for itself.
Jaden, Wall and Bildsten say they began their service in Walker’s administration believing in his agenda, but became disillusioned over time. They say during his run for president in 2015, Walker made Wisconsin’s interests a secondary priority to being in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the presidential race.
The Wisconsin State Journal was the first to report on the letter and Jadin’s criticism of the governor. Jadin told the State Journal that he quit his $208,000-a-year job at the Madison Regional Economic Partnership on Wednesday so he could speak freely.
Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature established the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a public-private hybrid agency, in 2011. It was plagued with troubles under Jadin’s leadership, including the loss of several top staff members, violations of policies and the mishandling of loans. It has since been instrumental in negotiating several economic development projects, most notably the Foxconn Technology Group campus that could result in a $10 billion worth of spending.
Bildsten left Walker’s Cabinet in February 2015. Wall was corrections secretary from 2012 until 2016, when he returned to work for the Department of Justice. He was later fired for encouraging Walker’s chief of staff to shred a letter, an action that would have violated the state’s open records law.
Gottlieb was a Republican leader in the state Assembly before joining Walker’s administration in 2011. He left in 2015 and recently said Walker was “not truthful” and “increasingly inaccurate” in his comments about transportation budgets.