Rick Wiley, Scott Walker’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, was trashed by Walker supporters this week for disloyalty after he spoke out about the failed effort.
On Wednesday, longtime Walker political confidante R.J. Johnson, who had been sidelined in the latest campaign,responded with an “amen” to conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes’ column 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 in a public Facebook post. “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. It crosses a line that any ethical political consultant would avoid. And when you cross it the beating that follows is one of your own making.”
U.S. News reported in July that Johnson had been sidelined with Wiley at the helm of Walker’s political operation. The move came as an investigation into Johnson’s own conduct in the 2012 recall campaign was litigated before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Johnson may have been referring to comments Wiley made to Politico and the Washington Post pushing back against criticism of his management decisions. Donors complained about Wiley hiring 90 staffers, including a full-time photographer and high-paid consultants.
Wiley told the Post, “we didn’t have a spending problem, we had a revenue problem.” And he told Politico, “I think sometimes it’s lost on people the largeness of the job. I think people just look at it and say, ‘Wow! Yeah, you know, it’s like he’s a governor and he was in a recall’ and blah, blah, blah — he’s ready. It’s just not like that.”
Wiley also said Walker “did a great job” and was a “machine” when it came to studying national issues and foreign policy.
Sykes cited a National Review article that criticized political consultants as having “absolutely no conception of loyalty or reticence or even self-awareness.”
“If the world was either fair or rational, Rick Wiley would never again work in politics,” Sykes wrote. “But, trust me, he will.”
Walker’s campaign did not respond to a request for a response from Wiley, a former Republican Party of Wisconsin executive director and Republican National Committee political director, or to a question about whether he is still on the payroll.