MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker broke a campaign promise to pay the full cost of his state pension immediately after taking office in January.
The Associated Press requested copies of the governor's pay stubs to see if he had fulfilled the campaign promise he made in June 2010. Walker said then he would begin paying the cost immediately in order to lead by example since he was proposing all state employees do the same.
"As governor, I'll pay my share toward my retirement because everyone should pay their own way, including me," Walker said during the campaign.
The pay stubs provided Friday in response to the AP's open records request made in September had details about his pension payments redacted. But Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor did not start paying the full cost until August, the same time all other state workers started contributing more.
The requirement that state workers pay their 5.8 percent contribution was part of Walker's bill that also took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The fight over that measure resulted in protests as large as 100,000 people, led to all 14 Democratic state senators fleeing to Illinois to block the bill, and made Wisconsin the center of the fight over union rights.
If Walker had fulfilled his campaign promise, he would have been paying his pension costs during that fight in February and March.
Werwie did not have an explanation for why Walker waited until August to begin paying. He said the governor started making payments of 6.65 percent of his annual $144,423 salary in August and will increase those to 7.05 percent next year. Over four years, that will result in him paying $34,108 which is $5,223 more than if he had paid 5 percent starting in January, Werwie said.
Democrats weren't buying it.
"That's damage control because he got caught," said Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski. "This is not an honest act. These are guilty moves."
Democrats, unions and others plan to start collecting signatures in November to force a recall election of Walker next year.
"It is indefensible Scott Walker promised to live by these rules and then broke his word to Wisconsin," said Scot Ross, head of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now. "Scott Walker tore Wisconsin in two to pass these unnecessary changes and then tells us 'do as I say, not as I didn't.'"
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch also promised during the campaign to pay her full pension cost.
"Just like Scott Walker, I'll pay my share of my pension, because everyone should pay their own way including me," she told a tea party group in September 2010.
Her spokeswoman did not immediately reply to an email sent Friday asking if she had fulfilled the promise. Werwie said her office would respond by the end of the day.