Scott Walker praises sex offender Christopher Barber in major address

The perils of failing to vet

Published January 23, 2014 9:45PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave his State of the State address on Wednesday, his last before he goes before voters yet again this November and seeks reelection. It should've been a no-nonsense affair, an opportunity for Walker to tout his accomplishments and set the table to secure reelection in a blue state and thus bolster his résumé for a potential run at the White House in 2016.

Instead, Walker ended up praising a sex offender who's not only not a Walker supporter, but isn't even registered to vote. Oh — and he's got other charges on his rap sheet, like getting caught three separate times driving drunk. And did we mention Walker had the guy join him in the state Capitol, too?

During his address, Walker hailed welder Christopher Barber for his work ethic and never-give-up attitude. Walker shared Barber's story of going from being unemployed to a seasonal worker to a full-timer. It's exactly the kind of up-from-your-bootstraps tale of perseverance that Republicans love, and it's a good (and totally anecdotal) response to those who'd point out that Walker's record on job creation is pretty bad.

Unfortunately, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, Barber probably struggled to secure employment in part because of his previous offenses. Some basic vetting on the part of Walker's staff would've nipped this problem in the bud, of course, but when the Journal Sentinel asked Walker spokesman Tom Evenson if Walker's people had done any vetting to find out more about Barber, Evenson "declined to respond."

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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