Walker points to registered sex offender as symbol of his success

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Scott Walker, left, applauds Christopher Barber, a seasonal welder at Ariens Co. who appeared on stage with the governor as a symbol of his administration’s success. –Photo: M.P. King / AP

During his state of the state address on Jan. 22, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker praised a registered sex offender with three drunk-driving convictions as a symbol of his administration’s success.

“Each of these people were looking for a job, or a better opportunity, over the past three years,” Walker told viewers, referring to a group of people standing with him on stage. “They represent the people and the families behind the numbers. These are the faces of an improving economy in our state. Wisconsin is going back to work.”

One of those faces, that of Christopher Barber, 32, was seen applauding Walker.  But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel learned that Barber only has a seasonal welding job for the snowblower and mower manufacturer Ariens. And although the company recommended Barber to the administration, it now now says hiring him was a mistake, due to his criminal record.

Barber has had his probation revoked for two separate convictions, including a 2005 conviction on third-degree sexual assault charges, MJS reported. He has also been convicted of forgery, battery and drunk driving. His last drunk-driving conviction was in 2011.

“We recommended him based on his performance on the job since he has been employed with Ariens Company beginning December of 2012,” Stilp told MJS. “As part of recommending him for the speech, we did not know the details of his record.”