Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker has reversed the promotion of a 27-year-old son of a lobbyist whose appointment to an $81,500 administration job sparked cronyism claims by Democrats.
Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement Tuesday that Brian Deschane will return to his previous $65,000 job with the Department of Regulation and Licensing just two days after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported his hiring and promotion.
It's the latest chapter in the ongoing showdown between Walker and Democratic legislators, including senators who fled the state on Feb. 17 to temporarily delay a vote on a bill ending most union rights for public workers.
Deschane had been promoted to head up a division within the Commerce Department that oversees environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees even though he has no college degree and little management experience.
His division was scheduled to be moved from Commerce back to DRL under a restructuring proposed by Walker.
Werwie says when Walker learned of the staffing decision, he ordered that Deschane be put back in his original job as bureau director of board services within DRL. He got that job after being recommended for it by Walker's chief of staff.
Werwie said a replacement for the post he is vacating will be named soon.
The announcement of his demotion came just minutes after Assembly Democrats proposed eliminating his $81,500 position altogether.
"This is the problem with cronyism," said Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca. "This is it, right here."
Republicans rejected the proposal just before Walker announced the demotion.
Deschane is the son of Jerry Deschane, a longtime lobbyist for the Madison-based Wisconsin Builders Association. The group's political action committee gave $29,000 to the campaigns of Walker and his running mate, putting it among the campaign's top donors.
The Journal Sentinel reported that members of the trade group also funneled more than $92,000 to Walker's campaign over the past two years, bringing the contribution total to $121,652.