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Blogger poses as David Koch in prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

New York blogger Ian Murphy poses as conservative businessman David Koch, one of Scott Walker's major campaign contributors. In the call, Walker talks about trying to lure Democratic senators back to the state and sending notices to government workers that they're at risk of layoff.

February 23, 2011|By Dan Hinkel | Chicago Tribune

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been punk’d, his office confirmed Wednesday. Walker, the Republican governor who wants to end collective bargaining for his state’s public employees, was at the wrong end of a prank telephone call with a person he was led to believe was David Koch, a conservative businessman who is one of  Walker’s major campaign contributors.

But in reality it was Ian Murphy, a blogger from Buffalo, N.Y.

In the call, Murphy as Koch makes inflammatory statements on unions and Democrats. Walker says Wisconsin is at the vanguard of a set of states in which conservative governors are battling with workers over union rights. Walker agrees with the impersonator that Wisconsin is the “first domino.”

“This is our moment,” Walker says on the recording.

Walker also explains tactics under consideration for breaking the deadlock, including trying to lure the missing Democratic senators back to the Capitol to negotiate and then pushing the bill through while Republicans have the quorum needed to move the measure.

“If you had heard that I was going to talk to them, that would be the only reason why,” Walker says on the recording.

Walker also said he planned to announce Thursday that state workers would start getting notices that they're at risk for layoff. Walker says 5,000 to 6,000 such notices could be sent. Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, sent a written statement confirming that the governor took the call and said: “The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.”

Murphy, who runs an online publication called the Buffalo Beast, said he was inspired to prank the governor Tuesday after hearing he was hard to contact. He said staffers asked if Walker could return his call, but Murphy said the governor could not because his maid had washed his cellphone. Murphy said he developed his Koch impression through brief research online mixed with guesswork as to how the businessman might sound.

Murphy said he was surprised to reach the governor and he hoped people would take notice of the tactics Walker mentioned.

“I want people to realize that's the kind of guy they're dealing with,” he said.

dhinkel@tribune.com

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