Gov. Scott Walker told a caller this week that he "thought about" sending in troublemakers to disrupt demonstrations outside the state Capitol.
That's got Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz furious.
"The governor of Wisconsin actually thought about planting people in the crowds who might turn these peaceful protests into something ugly?" declared the usually easy-going mayor.
"For the governor of our state to suggest that he even considered disrupting these peaceful protests is a serious thing," continued Cieslewicz, who says that the governor needs to explain his talk of deliberately inciting trouble at the Capitol.
At one point in the phone conversation, a caller who identified himself as billionaire David Koch, a Walker ally and campaign supporter, asked about "planting some troublemakers" to incite the crowds at what have been peaceful protests. The caller was actually Ian Murphy, a blogger who goes by the name of the Buffalo Beast.
"(We) thought about that," replied the governor, who added: "My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems."
Here's Mayor Cieslewicz's response:
"Our police department estimates that maybe a half million people have come through the Capitol Square in the last 10 days. They've come with high emotions, and there have been counter protesters. So you might expect trouble. Instead, what we've gotten is high civic engagement and peaceful protest. We have not had a single arrest over the course of the protests.
"And we're neat, also. I stop and chat from time to time with the Capital Concourse crews who clean the Square, and they tell me that the place is cleaner than ever. People are taking care of the municipal lawn as well as their own living rooms. Last night when I was inside the Capitol, the protestors organized a cleaning hour, clearing out of the rotunda to allow the sweepers and mops to come through. We're living up to our reputation for Midwest politeness.
"But I find it disturbing that Governor Walker apparently considered disrupting the protests. A transcript of a faux call to the governor from a man he believed was conservative icon and top Walker donor David Koch finds "Koch" offering to help Walker out by, "planting some troublemakers" among the demonstrators. Walker's reply:
"'We thought about that....'
"Really, Governor, you thought about that? The governor of Wisconsin actually thought about planting people in the crowds who might turn these peaceful protests into something ugly?
"The Madison Police Department, the Dane County Sherriff, the Capitol Police, UW Police, State Patrol and dozens of police departments from around the state deserve credit for acting so responsibly, as do the protestors who have been incredibly well organized. The tone has been just right. For the governor of our state to suggest that he even considered disrupting these peaceful protests is a serious thing. We need to hear more from him on exactly what he meant. I hope the media will keep after it."