Sex Offender Inadvertently Shares Stage with Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 02:57 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The owners of a Wisconsin lawnmower manufacturer have egg on their faces after Gov. Scott Walker gushed over one of their employees in his State of the State address, only to learn he's a registered sex offender.

During the annual speech on Wednesday, Walker praised Christopher Barber for his successful employment at Ariens Co., following a long period in which Barber was unemployed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Unknown at the time was the fact that Barber had trouble getting work because he is a registered sex offender with two felonies and three drunken-driving offenses and has served time.

"These are the faces of an improving economy in our state," Walker said of Barber and other workers who shared the stage at the State of the State event, with Barber waving to the audience.

Afterwards, Barber's checkered past was uncovered.

Barber was recommended for the appearance by Ariens Co., after Walker's administration asked a number of Wisconsin companies to recommend workers interested in being mentioned in the speech.

"Obviously, if we had been aware of this individual's prior convictions, he would not have been invited to participate," a spokesman for Walker told the Journal Sentinel.

A spokeswoman for Ariens told the newspaper it was conducting an internal review.

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