Scott Walker, governor, newspaper thief?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been called lots of things, especially lately. But whether you love him or hate him, one hopes there’s one label he wouldn’t be very proud of: newspaper thief.

According to a story published in today’s Huffington Post, Walker engaged in some nasty last-minute campaigning in his 1988 bid for Marquette University student body president that caused the student newspaper’s editorial board to revoke an earlier endorsement. In that endorsement, the Marquette Tribune’s editorial board said they believed that both Walker and his opponent “would serve the student body well.”

For some reason, Walker and his followers read that endorsement as a slam.

In response, Walker’s campaign distributed a brochure that the Tribune’s editorial board called “nothing more than a blatant mudslinging spree.”

The board’s Feb. 24, 1988, “un-endorsement,” however, also noted reports that Walker’s “campaign personnel” had removed “armfuls of papers” from their campus racks and thrown them away.

“We are disappointed not because the papers contained our endorsements, but because it is a serious shame to see hours of work and thousands of dollars of advertising dollars deliberately made useless.”

There has traditionally been a spike in newspaper thefts in the spring. The reason: that’s when — as the Marquette Tribune did in 1988 — many student newspapers publish their endorsements of student government candidates running in spring elections for the following school year. Disgruntled (read: the one not endorsed) student government candidates — oh yes, our future leaders to whom we’ll look for civic guidance — figure the best way to deal with bad press is to simply throw it in the nearest dumpster.

But as we’ve pointed out often, newspaper theft is a crime. Newspapers may be distributed for free, but they are usually paid for by student activity fees and advertising, both of which would dry up quickly if papers ended up in the garbage anytime they published a story someone didn’t like.

The story notes that Walker, who did not graduate from Marquette, was just a sophomore during his run for office. We can only hope he’s grown up some.

[Disclosure: I am a 1987 graduate of Marquette’s College of Journalism. I did not know Scott Walker.]