Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) blamed a lack of background research after it was revealed that one of the people he lauded as a symbol of his administration’s success is a registered sex offender with three drunk-driving convictions, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
“They did not do a full scale background check, which is why (he) slipped through,” Walker said of 32-year-old Christopher Barber, who was photographed being applauded by Walker during his State of the State address on Wednesday. “Obviously, we would never had this person up if that was the case.”
Barber, who currently has a seasonal welding job for the snowblower and mower manufacturer Ariens, has had his probation revoked for two separate convictions, including a 2005 conviction on third-degree sexual assault charges. He has also been convicted of forgery, battery and drunk driving. His last drunk-driving conviction was in 2011. On Wednesday he joined a group of people standing onstage near Walker as the governor praised them for being able to find work during his tenure as governor.
“Each of these people were looking for a job, or a better opportunity, over the past three years,” Walker said. “They represent the people and the families behind the numbers. These are the faces of an improving economy in our state. Wisconsin is going back to work.”
A spokesperson for Walker, Tom Evenson, told the Journal-Sentinel that the administration placed the group on stage after asking employers in the state to recommend workers they thought would be interested in being name-checked during the event.
“It’s customary for us to background all participants, which we did do with every other person mentioned in the speech,” Evenson was quoted as saying. “This individual was a very late addition and was recommended by a reputable employer in our state, who typically perform their own background checks, so a check was not done internally.”
However, Ariens spokesperson Ann Stilp suggested that even hiring Barber was a mistake, given that the company asks applicants if they have criminal records during the hiring process.
“We recommended him based on his performance on the job since he has been employed with Ariens Company beginning December of 2012,” Stilp told the Journal-Sentinel. “As part of recommending him for the speech, we did not know the details of his record.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.