Police Union Official Pulls Down Anti-Walker Press Release After News Coverage

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February 20, 2011 6:49 p.m.
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Tracy Fuller, the head of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, has pulled down the statement that he posted online, in which he regretted the endorsement that the Wisconsin Troopers Association — of which he is a member, but is not officially qualified to speak on its behalf — had given to Gov. Scott Walker (R).

“I am in no position to speak for the Troopers Association on any issue, other than just being — I am a member, that’s the truth. Because the reason that I am a member, and I’ll give you this piece of information, the Troopers’ Association does a lot of beneficial things in this state.”

The local CBS affiliatein Madison, Channel 3000, had reported Fuller’s statement constituted a repudiation of the endorsement by the organization itself; and we here at TPM picked up on the story. In fact, the two organizations, the WLEA and Troopers Association, are different groups with overlapping memberships — the WLEA also includes state Capitol Police, University of Wisconsin police, Department of Transportation field agents, and dispatchers for the State Patrol and Capitol Police.

The snafu and Fuller’s quick decision to pull down the statement is a further sign of the tensions in organized labor in Wisconsin and the rapid pace of events in the unfolding crisis. Divisions within Fuller’s union are due to Walker having exempted the State Patrol but not other WLEA members from his budget proposal to remove most collective bargaining rights and place other heavy restrictions on public employee unions.

“There are many intertwinements of the two organizations,” Fuller told TPM in a subsequent interview Sunday night. “But the decision about what candidates it supported and all that, the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association doesn’t ever support, has never endorsed a candidate, ever. The Trooper’s Association commonly does that. They do lots of things that are politically connected.”How did Fuller end up pulling down the statement, we asked?

“I got a phone call from a friend of mine asking me did you see the article from Channel 3000? And I said no. And they said is this what you intended when you put your statement on the web site?” Fuller said. “And I looked at it, and I read the first sentence of it, and I thought, oh my god. So I called our person that takes care of our web site, and I said take that off of there.”

Fuller said he had heard from one person in the Troopers Association about the statement, though he did not specify who the person was.

“Well, they wanted me to explain how that happened wit the Channel 3000 article. and I said I don’t know. that’s one of the problems that I had. Channel 3000 puts that out there. Then the members of my own union are complaining about the endorsement and what that means from the governor and all manner of things. So it’s almost like I can’t do anything I’m gonna be wrong no matter what. If I don’t do something that’s negative, if it do something then that’s one thing. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

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