I'm assuming everyone has heard about, listened to, or read a transcript of, the conversation between Governor Scott Walker and gonzo journalist Ian Murphy, who pretended to be David Koch, regarding the Wisconsin teachers' strike.
The question some people are asking is whether Governor Walker committed one or more crimes during the conversation. Let's leave aside the question of his ethics in discussing these issues with a political contributor, or his idiocy in talking with someone who just said he was David Koch.
I want to focus on one part of the conversation:
Koch: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.
Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…
It would be fair to say that "Koch" promised Walker a free trip and more "once you crush these bastards" and Walker accepted. Is that evidence of a crime?
Once possibility would be a violation of the honest services law (18 U.S.C. sec. 1346), which forbids "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."
Convictions for honest services fraud have been upheld when either bribery of the official or failure to disclose a conflict of interest resulting in personal gain was found. See United States v. Isaacs, 493 F.2d 1124, 1149-51 (7th Cir.) (public officials received bribes intended to induce special favors and preferential treatment for certain racing interests), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 976, 94 S.Ct. 3183, 41 L.Ed.2d 1146 (1974).
The conversation between "Koch" and Walker raises at least some suspicion that Walker was to be rewarded to taking certain action, or at the very least, had a conflict of interest that had to be disclosed.
Is this enough to convict him of honest services fraud? No. Is it enough to warrant a federal investigation of his communications with the Kochs? I think so. It does not take much smoke to launch an investigation into a fire. There is more than enough here.