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What Was That, No The Fleeing 14 Never Got Info From Outside Wisconsin?

Union, Democrats

National union spokesman sent talking points to Senate Democrats


Madison -- The same day Senate Democrats left the state to boycott a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill, a union official from Washington, D.C., provided the Democrats' leader with talking points.


Emails released by the office of Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) show how Democratic senators sought to explain their unusual action to drive to Illinois to block a vote on Walker’s measure, which would end most collective bargaining by public employee unions.  The measure ultimately passed the Legislature but is now facing legal challenges.


One of people offering suggestions to Senate Democrats was Blaine Rummel, a spokesperson from the national office of the public workers union AFSCME, also known as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.


Rummel sent an email marked “TPs,” for talking points, to Miller spokesman Mike Browne late in the evening of Feb. 17 after Senate Democrats had crossed the state line that morning.


Also that day, Rummel had helped coordinate AFSCME’s opposition to the bill in Wisconsin, speaking to media outlets like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Rummel sent the talking points to the personal email of Miller spokesman Mike Browne, but the email turned up in an open records request by the Journal Sentinel because it was forwarded on to Miller’s official email account.


“We’re on the job.  The fact is, Wisconsin legislators are sworn to protect people’s rights, not take them away. And we are fulfilling our oath,” one of the talking points reads.


Browne said that exchanges like that one were meant to share what different opponents to Walker’s bill were saying publicly.  He noted that Senate Democrats were already making similar comments to outlets like the Journal Sentinel prior to receiving the email from Rummel.


“I think everybody was communicating about what they were saying publicly,” Browne said.


Rummel did not immediately return a message seeking comment.


Browne pointed out that Republicans also benefited from the support and advice of national figures in mounting their campaign in support of the bill.  He pointed to a Feb. 23 meeting Walker held with national political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz.


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