By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker did almost no official work in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 election, according to new information released to Wisconsin Reporter — meaning the governor essentially has taken off at least two months this year, not including weekends.
On Nov. 30, a Wisconsin Reporter analysis indicated Walker had taken 54 personal days through the end of October, with “personal day” defined as any day in which the governor spent fewer than 90 minutes on official business.
The governor’s early-November calendar, released since that report, indicates the governor also took off Nov. 1-6, with the exception of three conference calls — two with his staff and one with State Superintendent Tony Evers.
Walker responded to the report last week, saying the time off didn’t affect his job as governor, according to Madison’s WKOW-TV station.
“In the middle of 2012 we had a (recall) campaign, we had to show up at forums and debates and campaign activities … around the state and it’s as simple as that, but it didn’t change our job,” Walker said during an appearance in Wisconsin Dells, the station reported. “We stayed focused on our job all throughout this just like we did in the past.”
The governor’s office doesn’t provide details about how he spends his personal time.
But on Nov. 1 at least, Walker held a private lunch in New York City to benefit the New York Republican State Committee, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s website that collects information on lobbying and fundraising events.
It’s a sign of the times — admittedly remarkable times — of political recall, said Scott Furlong, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Furlong points to criticism of President Obama by those who say the chief executive takes too much time off, as did the critics of Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush.
“As the politics (have) changed, I think you are seeing more and more of these candidates are taking personal days — not that they’re not working but they’re not doing what they are elected to do,” the political scientist said. “We don’t elect the governor of Wisconsin to campaign for the presidential candidate of this country, but that’s been happening for some time now.”
Walker has raised millions of dollars this year — for his own campaign coffers and his fellow Republicans.
Voters can decide for themselves how much time off is too much for their elected officials.
Wisconsin statutes, it appears, won’t provide that guidance.
State Statute 230 details how much paid time off state employees get per year of service.
But elected officials are exempted from those provisions, via language that simply reads: “A state officer elected by the people may take vacation without loss of pay. No such state officer is entitled to payment for unused annual leave.”
That would seem to indicate no cap exists for the number of personal days elected officials, including the governor, can take off.
Walker’s office, however, has not responded to repeated inquiries over the past two weeks about how much personal time the governor is allowed.
The Department of Administration referred questions to the Office of State Employee Relations, and OSER officials did not immediately respond to questions about the governor’s compensation package Monday.
Contact Kirstin Adshead at [email protected]
— Edited by John Trump at [email protected]