Scott Walker sailed into a federal courtroom during one of his numerous appearances in 2014 like someone running for public office rather than facing prison time for defrauding the federal government of $390,000.
He smiled and shook hands all around. He even offered warm greetings and shook hands with the men who investigated him: FBI Agent Matt Campbell and State Auditor's Office investigator Chris Lott.
I've covered a few federal court sentencings involving corrupt public officials and their cohorts. Seeing a defendant enthusiastically greet his adversaries was a first.
But it illustrates Scott Walker's mindset. Judging from the comments I've heard and seen, there seems to be a major disconnect between the way he perceives himself and the way others see him.
Walker is out of prison now, after serving 475 days for fraud and conspiracy. He picked up his cell phone when I called him Monday, his first day of freedom.
Walker has always been loquacious. He said he wanted badly to tell his side of the story from the time he was first indicted on 10 felony charges back in November 2013.
Maybe he wanted to talk a full year earlier, back in November 2012, when Sun Herald reporter Karen Nelson first uncovered a land deal arranged by his father, Bill Walker, who headed the Department of Marine Resources.
In the deal, DMR gave a nonprofit $210,000 in federal funds to buy a subdivision lot in Gulf Hills from Scott Walker.
Both Walkers eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy over the land deal and, in a separate case, Scott Walker pleaded guilty to fraud over a $180,000 finder's fee he collected from the city of D'Iberville, managed at the time by one of his business partners, Michael Janus.
Scott Walker was contrite when he stood before a federal judge for sentencing. He admitted his guilt, a necessity for defendants trying to minimize their prison time. Turns out, Scott Walker doesn't think he was guilty at all.
He explained why in a story based on the interview. It's clear he believes what he said.
The story also laid out his crimes.
It's clear most readers did not believe him at all.
One reader emailed to say the article was “the most outlandish thing I have read in some time. He is unapologetic throughout the article, and the Sun Herald should not be putting such a positive spin on his wrongs nor providing a forum for him to inflate his ego.”
Others readers commented on the article online. A couple of them also questioned why it was written.
I called Scott Walker and wrote the article because I thought readers would be interested in what he had to say, and I thought they deserved a glimpse into how Walker perceives himself after dozens of articles in which he had no comment at all.