Yes, a swastika ad. First, the background.
Mary Burke’s thin résumé could only be highlighted with one claim: as an executive of the Trek bicycle firm, she managed their European operations so brilliantly that sales rose exponentially under her watch. Surely such an exemplary manager and problem-solver was just the ticket to serve as Democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s commerce secretary, and is now the person to end the political divisiveness which has characterized Scott Walker’s first four years.
This bubble burst last week when Gary Ellerman, who had worked 21 years for the Trek corporation, serving as vice president in charge of human relations, revealed the devastating truth: Trek’s continental European operations had suffered substantial losses under Burke’s leadership. She had caused critical personnel problems, such that she was stripped of her responsibilities by upper management, forced to return to the U.S. and to apologize to management for her incompetence, and then allowed to take her now-famous snowboarding sabbatical.
Burke’s only possible defense is to discredit this testimony, and Ellerman does have an Achilles’ heel: he himself had subsequently been terminated by Trek (he says over differences in hiring philosophy), and he is a politically active Republican, indeed, chairman of the Jefferson County branch of the party.
Two things prevent this from becoming a case of “he says, she says.”
The first is that Ellerman’s account of the affair has been confirmed in all its essentials by Tom Albers, who was president of Trek at the time and who conducted the review of Burke’s operations at the request of her father, then CEO, which led to her dismissal from the position.
The second is the absolute silence from Trek, currently headed by Burke’s brother, concerning the entire affair.
Burke’s account also requires that one believe that such a stellar performer would be “downsized” by her own family after two years on the job. She has tried to sell that with this ad, as picked up by the Washington Post.
The ad is one long exercise in mendacity. Let’s unpack the lies in order.
Gary Ellerman has postings on his Facebook page showing swastikas. The implication of the ad is that Ellerman somehow approves of the ideology represented by the swastika (more precisely, the Nazi variant of the ancient Hindu symbol, called the Hakenkreuz). Yet the first picture shows activist Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who has been engaging in tactics of intimidation reminiscent of the Gestapo, superimposed on the symbol of National Socialism. Ellerman clearly does not approve of Parker’s methods.
The second picture, which simply shows the Nazi flag, is posted to explain that the Nazi swastika was presented to a desperate German people, tired of an endless series of inconclusive parliamentary elections and unstable coalitions and wracked by severe economic hardships, as the symbol of “hope and change.”
Mr. Ellerman, in other words, is clearly not a Nazi sympathizer.
His remarks about Burke are not “lies,” as they have been corroborated and Burke has done nothing to refute either Albers’ comments or Trek’s silence.
Next, Ellerman was not fired for “incompetence,” but over a difference in hiring philosophies between Ellerman and Albers’ successor, John Burke. To believe otherwise requires believing that it took Trek senior management 21 years to decide that Ellerman was incompetent.
Recall, they reached that judgment concerning Mary Burke in just two.
Next, Governor Walker is accused of “sleazy politics,” and allegedly being under investigation for “illegal campaign activities.” The trouble with this: two judges, one a state judge and the other a federal judge, have ruled that the activities alleged under the legal theory of the investigation do not violate Wisconsin state statute, but that the investigation itself, launched by a highly partisan Democratic district attorney married to a public-employee union activist, does violate the constitutional rights of all those being scrutinized.
The “six associates” of Walker who were convicted were either: (a) convicted of embezzling funds from a veterans’ charity set up by Walker, who had requested the investigation in the first place when he first became aware of the financial irregularity; or (b) were low-level staffers convicted of such “major crimes” as posting comments to a newspaper article and other such “political business” on government time or using government computers.
As was revealed in one of the 16,000 pages of emails dumped by the current Milwaukee county executive, Walker had the staffer who posted the comments suspended as soon as he became aware of the activity.
Sorry, Mary Burke — your ad reveals much more about you than it does about Scott Walker.