Longtime adviser to Scott Walker rips his presidential campaign manager
Rick Wiley, manager of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s former presidential campaign, is seen in July speaking a WisPolitics luncheon at The Madison Club in Madison.
R.J. Johnson — the architect of much of Gov. Scott Walker’s electoral success in Wisconsin — has been noticeably quiet about the Republican governor’s failed presidential campaign.
In a Facebook post, Johnson takes aim at Rick Wiley, who ran Walker’s presidential operation, for his comments seemingly pinning the blame for the campaign’s problems on the GOP candidate.
Johnson began his post by offering “amen” in response to a column by conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes titled, “Good Riddance, Rick Wiley.”
“It’s one thing to fail at a campaign and there’s more than one reason this one did,” Johnson wrote. “But it’s quite another to publicly and repeatedly blame your client for that failure, one you had full ownership in. The same client who paid you and trusted you with their life, their most personal details and their reputation.”
Johnson then suggested that Wiley’s post-campaign comments were improper.
“It crosses a line that any ethical political consultant would avoid,” he wrote. “And when you cross it, the beating that follows is one of your own making.”
Johnson declined to comment when reached Wednesday. Wiley also refused to discuss the issue.
“Jesus,” Wiley said when read Johnson’s post. He then added, “I don’t have any comment.”
Wiley has come under withering criticism from conservative bloggers, talk show hosts and publications since Walker shut down his campaign operation on Sept. 21.
Most have focused on how the campaign — under Wiley’s leadership — burned through millions of dollars with a massive campaign staff and on Wiley’ suggestions that it was tough preparing Walker for a presidential bid. Wiley told Politico, for instance: “I think people just look at it and say, ‘Wow! Yeah, you know, it’s like he’s a governor and he was in the recall and blah, blah, blah — he’s ready. It’s just not like that. It is really, really difficult. … I’m just saying, you know, like it’s a (expletive) bitch, man. It really is.”
One blogger said Wiley should “never, ever work in politics again.” And the National Review said Wiley reminded everyone “why Republicans hate political consultants.”
“One reason Republicans hate political consultants is that so many of them seem to have absolutely no conception of loyalty or reticence or even self-awareness,” wrote Matthew Continetti. “Scott Walker is a talented governor who won three elections in a blue state. He deserves the respect of his employees, who were happy to spin best-case scenarios for him as long as the money was good.
“Now, though, Walker’s campaign manager is suddenly out of a job. So what does he do? Like a true Washingtonian, he absolves himself of responsibility for the collapse while explaining to the press — and to his future clients — that it was entirely the governor’s fault.”