Scott Walker has been hailed as one of the worst presidential candidates when it comes to environmental issues. Among other actions, the conservative Wisconsin governor running for president has signed a 2008 “no climate tax” pledge, reversed phosphorus regulations in Wisconsin, and even slashed the state's recycling program by 50 percent. But Walker is also a viable presidential candidate, right behind Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, according to CBS polls published Tuesday. That's what motivated 20-year-old Giselle Hart to trick Scott Walker with a fake sign and point out the Republican's faulty environmental platform.
At a Manchester, New Hampshire meet and greet event with Walker Monday, Hart and her co-workers, Tyler McFarland and Elaine Colligan, posed as supporters who wanted to take a photo with the governor, holding a sign that read, "Walker 4 President." At the last second, McFarland turned the sign around for quite a different read: a fake check for $900 million from the Koch brothers, who said they planned to spend that much on the 2016 election.
Hart, an environmental studies major at the University of New Hampshire, is working as a fellow this summer with environmental activism group 350 Action. She's focusing on making climate justice an essential issue in the New Hampshire primaries. This recent Walker demonstration was part of that.
Publications have been dubbing it as Walker getting "punked," but it's more than just a joke, Hart says.
Scott Walker is one of the most dangerous, or is the most dangerous, on climate change. He has a record as governor of Wisconsin of environmental regulation that harms the protection of health of communities and their air quality. So we are nervous about the fact that he denies that climate change is occurring.
Not only is Walker less than enthused about the environment, he also has some major support bankrolling him. On Monday, The New York Times reported the Koch brothers, a duo who are worth billions of dollars and have ties to the oil industry, want Scott Walker to take the Republican presidential nomination. Hart and her 350 Action fellows wanted to shed light on big oil-related industry campaign donors like the Koch brothers.
We wanted to highlight the fact that there is this connection between Scott Walker's climate denial and fossil fuel industry money in his campaign.
Hart says they are trying to push candidates to be accountable for the environment.
How can we ask them really meaningful questions that they can't evade, and how can we do the sorts of demonstrations that get the media's attention and make it obvious that the candidates are ignoring our concerns and our voices?
While Hart's always been interested in environmental and social justice issues, she didn't always pay attention to politics. But since starting college, Hart says she's become interested in how those two intersect and says electoral politics can be a great way to address intersectional justice issues.
I realized that you don't have to know a lot about politics. You don't have to be a poli-sci major in order to be involved in the political process. All you have to know is, what do you care about? What are your interests? The candidates are supposed to be accountable for that.
So who's got her vote in the 2016 presidential election?
I can say that any candidate that is going to take the issue of climate justice into consideration, is going to really make commitments to keeping carbon in the ground, will definitely be in the running for getting my vote.
Images: Tyler McFarland/Twitter