CNN's Tapper Challenges Scott Walker On His Ties To “Republican Special Interests Like The Koch Brothers”

CNN's Jake Tapper called out Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker for claiming to be able to take on special interests, pointing out Walker's ties to “Republican special interests like the Koch brothers.”

During a September 13 interview on CNN's State of the Union, Tapper questioned Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) claim that he “can take on special interests” by pointing out Walker's close ties to the billionaire conservative Koch brothers (emphasis added):

GOV. SCOTT WALKER: If you want someone who will fight and win, not just win three elections in four years in a blue state like we did, but win and get results without compromising common-sense conservative principles, then I'm the candidate. I've shown I can take on those same powerful special interests. They spent in three elections almost $100 million dollars trying to take me out, it was the big government union bosses and the liberal special interests in Washington. 

JAKE TAPPER: I respect that you've taken on Democratic special interests in Wisconsin, but you've been backed by Republican special interests like the Koch brothers, right? How does that square with what you're saying about taking on special interests or do you think only liberal special interests are the ones worth taking on?

WALKER: I'm taking on the ones in Washington. In my state I didn't just take on the unions and Democrats, early on there was great support from the assembly and some from the Senate, people like State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, but there were some senators, including some who'd been in the leadership, who didn't want to do the kind of reforms. I'm willing to take on anyone. I stood up to 100,000 protesters, I took on the death threats, I took on threats [on] my family. We pushed back when they took us to federal and state court, we pushed back when they went after our state senators. They went after me in a recall election and we won, and they made me the number one target in America, number one in America last year. 

TAPPER: But aren't the Koch brothers special interests too? Can you give me an example of one time that you took on a conservative special interest?

WALKER: I tell you flat out, when I took on the $100 million dollars or so, I raised $80 million dollars in three elections in four-and-a-half years, and 70 percent of it came from people who gave me $75 dollars or less. We raised it from more than 300,000 donors in all 50 states, that's grassroots, that's not allegiance to one group or another. 

Tapper touched on the nexus between Walker and Charles and David Koch, which is evidenced by the millions of dollars the Kochs directly and indirectly donated to Walker's gubernatorial campaign. A right-to-work bill signed by Walker was nearly a word-for-word replica of model legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that receives large sums of money from the Koch brothers. Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a Koch-funded group, “deployed hundreds of volunteers”  to help spread Walker's message while buying television and digital ads. And in January, Walker was one of only four GOP presidential hopefuls invited to attend an exclusive Koch brothers' event featuring wealthy conservative political donors.