A spokesperson for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denied National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent's claim that he collaborated with Walker during a 2011 showdown between the Republican governor and unions. Walker's denial was prompted by Nugent's recent declaration on a Detroit radio station that he “worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies and got rid of the debt and got some freedom back in Wisconsin.”
During an October 30 Google hangout hosted by 94.7 WCSX, Nugent also said he worked closely with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
On November 9 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that spokespersons from both Walker's campaign and state office denied working with Nugent. Campaign spokesperson Jonathan Wetzel stated, “We have not had any interaction with Ted Nugent,” and Tom Evenson, a spokesperson for Walker's office, said there had been “no involvement” between Nugent and Walker since the 2006 NRA annual meeting in Milwaukee:
“I worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies and got rid of the debt and got some freedom back in Wisconsin,” Nugent said.
But Walker staffers said this week that Nugent's statement simply isn't true.
The Motor City Madman doesn't know what he's talking about.
“The governor met Ted Nugent during an NRA convention in Milwaukee years ago when he was Milwaukee county executive,” said Tom Evenson, spokesman for Walker's state office. “Other than that, our office has not had involvement with him.”
The NRA held its national convention here in 2006, and Nugent -- best known for such hits at “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Dog Eat Dog” -- performed the national anthem on his guitar, as Walker recalled in this interview.
Nugent did campaign last year in Sturtevant for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson during his failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat.
But officials say he has never worked with the Walker campaign.
“We have not had any interaction with Ted Nugent,” said campaign spokesman Jonathan Wetzel. [emphasis in original]
Evenson also issued a denial to the Wisconsin State Journal.
During an interview with NRA News at the NRA's 2012 annual meeting, Walker said that “the best part” of the 2006 annual meeting was meeting Nugent. Incidentally, the 2012 meeting is also where Nugent infamously claimed that in a year he would be “dead or in jail” if President Obama was reelected.
According to Walker's denial, Nugent's involvement with the governor predates the 2011 union showdown by five years. Between February and June in 2011, thousands of protesters filled the Wisconsin State Capitol to oppose Walker's budget which eliminated collective bargaining rights for many state employees including public school teachers.
While Nugent is known for his inflammatory rhetoric on race -- he recently endorsed racial profiling -- he is also stridently anti-union and used his since discontinued regular opinion column at The Washington Times to regularly attack the Walker-opposing National Education Association (NEA).
Nugent, who claimed in September 2011 that "[p]ublic-sector employees should be banned from joining a union," has also written that, “If we truly cared about providing our children with a quality, world-class, proper education as we once did, we would start by busting up the NEA and then completely dismantling the public-education system.”
Walker's denial is not the first time a prominent Republican has pushed back on Nugent's claims of influence. In 2012, Nugent claimed that Mitt Romney solicited his endorsement. But after Nugent's “dead or in jail” comment in April 2012, the Romney campaign claimed that it accepted -- but had not solicited -- Nugent's endorsement. Still, in May 2012, Nugent claimed the endorsement came about when he received a personal phone call from the then-presidential candidate, who made a number of “pledges” to Nugent on gun regulation. Nugent also claimed that Romney -- who while governor of Massachusetts supported some gun regulations -- told Nugent that he had “learned [his] lesson from before”:
NUGENT: I said I will endorse Mitt Romney if I can get a pledge from him on certain issues. He called me, I was in a sporting goods store, I said, 'Hey guys,' -- big gun shop in Michigan -- I said, 'I got Mitt Romney, he wants to be president. See if I represent my fellow shootists, my fellow Second Amendment conservationists accurately.' I said, 'Mitt, you got to vow to me. No more gun restrictions. You have to vow. You have to pledge. No more intrusion. No more limitations on my right and keep to bear arms.' He goes, 'I understand that now, I do pledge it.' I go 'You can't call anything any assault weapon, unless this chair I hit you over the head with, that would be an assault weapon.' He says, 'Yeah, I understand that mistaken vernacular, and that terminology was misrepresented.' I said, 'You got to vow no more taxes, no more back door Second Amendment restrictions, taxes on ammo, and limitations on magazines, just leave the Second Amendment alone. Do you promise?' He goes, 'Yes, I have basically learned my lesson from before, and I do promise that.'