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WI: Elected officials receive unlimited time off, and Walker sure takes his

By   /   December 10, 2012  /   News  /   9 Comments

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.

Gov. Scott Walker took at least two months off this year, according to a Wisconsin Reporter review. But there’s no law against it.

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]


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.

  • NOW do an article on President Obama who has played almost 4 months of golf while in office. Only Golf not others sports or meetings private.. and former Govonors of WI; If one is honest??

  • AndyMatts

    Sorry, John, but playing a round of golf on a given day is not the same as spending an entire day playing golf. It is possible to work on a given day, and then get a round of golf in. For instance, when they went and got bin Laden, Obama got a round of golf in, then went to the situation room, gave the go order and listened while they got him. I realize with conservative presidents like Reagan and Bush you might have the idea that walking a chewing gum at the same time is a major undertaking, but in this actual example, Obama was able to get a round of golf in, and then oversee the taking out of our #1 enemy and most wanted target, bin Laden.

    I thought conservatives wanted government to be run like a business. Are you telling me successful CEOs never play golf? Please.

    In mid-June, Obama had played his 100th round of golf. That’s 100 rounds of golf in 229 weeks in office. That’s less than a round of golf every two weeks.

    Wow. Definitely need to blow the lid off of a story about someone who gets onto the golf course less than every other week.


    Quite frankly the more the Obama is on the golf course the better off the country is.

  • W spent more time and money on vacation than any president in history. I didn’t hear anyone on the Right complaining about that. Odd.

  • Boehner plays 100 rounds per year. Four times that of the President. No wonder the House doesn’t get anything done.

  • Obama Also has Taken LESS vacation Days than any other President has in over 40 years too,So are You going to start complaining about that now too,He also has done Less campaining than Bush did for others too,(Hears crickets) So How are You doing With the Typical GOP distracting stratagy of Changeing the subject Buy attacking something else & NOT answering the Question at hand Walker is NOT earning his Pay But You sure are Earning Yours as I checked & you have been a busy little beaver attacking ANY article You can find

  • Actually, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter took fewer days… but then, Carter was a one-term President. George Bush took off nearly three years. (967 days), which makes him the all-time champ.

  • Quote” But it didn’t change our job.” Scott Walker. Quote” Scott has done more than people realize. he has raised millions.” Said by Republican Party Chairman at Republican Convention. They seem to realize what the job is that they are doing.

  • wiandy

    John, the site is “Wisconsin Reporter”. Now…who do you suppose would be more important to the people of Wisconsin, the president, or it’s governor? Hmmmmmmm. How about a story on how much time the Queen of England takes off?