Posted: 03 Mar 2011 05:00 PM PST
I think this might be the strangest story yet in the Wisconsin budget saga. The protesters got an injunction that they couldn't be locked out of the Capitol, but Walker did it anyway. So they stood outside making noise while Walker gave his speech to a bunch of designated seat-fillers.
Many of the state's Democratic officials moved their desks outside the building and held office hours in the cold:
The Awl's Abe Sauer is at the Wisconsin state house with press credentials, and he describes the scene after rogue governor Scott Walker defied a court order and violated state law by locking the public out of the capitol. But then something even weirder and creepier happened: a cadre of out-of-town ringers in suits were smuggled into the gallery through the civil defense tunnels to bleat their approval for Walker's budget proposal:
Walker entered to thunderous applause, though not from the Democrats, who refused to rise. At least two-thirds of the East audience galley was loudly applauding but they had nothing on the West coast. It was now clear who the men in business attire were. Nearly without exception, the west gallery was all men in black suits and, when the governor said something meaningful, they all rose and applauded, and they did it with verve and volume. I'm not saying these guys were not from Wisconsin, but if you know Wisconsin, you know for a fact that even for most businessmen, black suits are not part of the wardrobe. In general, the only time one will see a large gathering of Wisconsin men in black suits is at a funeral, or, apparently at a Governor Walker budget address.
Reporter Kristin Knutsen found evidence that many of these ringers may have entered through the capitol's access tunnels, noting the presence of the Division of Criminal Investigation--the same officers I saw upstairs outside the Assembly chambers following the address escorting unidentified men.