Walker, who was elected in 2010 but is facing a recall election in June, came under harsh criticism during a budget fight in which he called for the elimination of collective bargaining rights for many Wisconsin public employees.
The legislation eventually passed after a battle that drew thousands protesting at the Wisconsin state Capitol.
The controversy touched off recall efforts for several legislators of the Badger State, as well as Walker.
More recently, critics assailed Walker for repealing that state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a law that proponents said made it easier for victims of workplace discrimination to seek judicial redress.
Walker is scheduled to be the keynote speaker this evening at the annual Citizenship Dinner hosted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank. Previous high-profile speakers at the event have included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Brian Bush, executive vice president of OCPA, said Walker’s actions and beliefs align with OCPA’s mission: free enterprise, limited government and individual initiative.
“Gov. Walker and his passion for good government and his commitment to seeing the taxpayers get the most for their dollar was something very appealing to our members at OCPA. Just to watch his conviction and his courage in taking on what was by all accounts a real disaster when he took office has been refreshing to see,” he said. “That’s the type of leadership and commitment we like to highlight at OCPA.”
Bush said Walker’s commitment to principle on the budget matter should be celebrated.
“Regardless of your [party] affiliation, it was about good government,” Bush said. “He had a crisis on his hands and there were some tough decisions that had to be made.”
But not all are thrilled with Walker’s visit. Ron Cobb, president and business manager for the Teamsters Local Union 886, said the union plans to protest the event at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, as well as hold a competing fundraiser nearby.
Cobb said the Teamsters plan to raise money for eyeglasses for Capitol Hill High School students who need them.
“We intend to express our freedom of assembly,” he said. “We’re going to do a peaceful protest against Scott Walker’s legislation that certainly destroys working families and collective bargaining.
“We do not want him bringing that type of legislation or suggesting that type of legislation in Oklahoma.”