With no degree and little expertise, Wisconsin Governor’s appointee pulls in big bucks

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, April 4, 2011 13:52 EDT
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It’s good to be born to people who know people.

That’s largely the perception many Wisconinites are taking away from this weekend’s revelation that the son of a major political donor to Republican Governor Scott Walker landed a very well-heeled post in the state’s Department of Commerce with apparent ease.

His qualifications: dropping out of college, working for a few Republicans, working for a lobbyist shop and getting busted a couple times for DUI.

Most guys in their mid-20s would be staring down a decade of riding the bus after a couple drunk driving convictions.

That one reason why Wisconsinites aren’t necessarily happy to hear that the young Brian Deschane, the son of a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Builders Association and a major Walker donor, is now earning $81,500 a year on their dime.

And lucky him: In Brian’s first two months on the job, he even landed a 26 percent pay raise, according to The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. It’s a very generous percentage too — unlike Wisconsin teachers, who typically make about half of Deschane’s salary and see their pay increase only 21 percent every 10 years.

So how does a man in his mid-20s climb the career ladder so quickly?

His online resume places him at a number of jobs in recent years, including fundraising for Republicans, working in the office of a Republican state Senator, managing a failed Republican congressional campaign and finally serving pseudo-political functions at big business lobbying groups connected to his father’s industry.

As for the government job, Jerry Deschane, Brian’s father and the executive vice president of the Wisconsin Builders’ Association, told the Journal Sentinel that he didn’t help Brian get his shoe in the door.

Hard work, he said, and a respectable resume, made Brian a good fit for Walker’s team.

But a look at the numbers belies the assertions of the elder Deschane that it was all about his son’s resume.

Deschane’s lobbying shop bet big on Walker, the paper noted, with the group and individual members donating a combined total of over $121,000 to the Republican’s campaign.

In a state currently racked by accusations of class warfare, those donations are only fueling appearances of cronyism.

Many of Walker’s critics already accuse the governor of creating the state’s budget crisis, pointing to the $140 million in spending and giveaways he and fellow Republicans pushed through the legislature in January.

Walker claims the state’s deficit is at or around $137 million, and that removing the right of public workers to bargain for better compensation and working conditions is the only way to solve the crisis.

Wisconsin Democrats have since set about collecting signatures for numerous Republican state Senators, with an eye on triggering a series of recall elections that could flip the balance of the state’s legislature.

Although the state’s Republicans claim they passed a bill stripping unions of their right to organize, a judge has placed it on hold and it has not been implemented.

A State of Wisconsin website which listed Brian Deschane’s telephone number appeared to be in error. He could not be reached for comment.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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