JSOnline: Walker Denies Favoring Police, Fire Unions

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Several at City Hall raised the question before the election:

Had Scott Walker cut any closed-door deals with the local police and firefighters unions to gain their support during last year's campaign?

Some Milwaukee officials believe they have an answer now that the state budget repair bill is out and Walker has exempted law enforcement and firefighters from the dramatic changes he is proposing in bargaining rules for other public employee unions.

"I'm very disappointed," said Ald. Michael Murphy, a critic of the newly elected governor. "It seems to be almost like a pay-to-play."

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Except the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association and Milwaukee Police Association don't deliver much in terms of campaign donations. The firefighters gave Walker no money, while the police union chipped in $1,100 to his campaign and that of his lieutenant governor.

What these labor groups deliver instead is an image that their candidate is tough on crime. You may remember that in addition to endorsing the eventual winner, leaders from both Milwaukee unions starred in one of Walker's most compelling campaign ads late in the election season.

"I can't speak to whether any deals were cut," said Patrick Curley, chief of staff for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat who was defeated by Walker in November. "But it's obvious that these two groups received special consideration in this bill."

Related content: Click here to read more about this story from the Journal Sentinel