Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker praises registered sex offender Christopher Barber in speech

3:50 PM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
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(USA TODAY) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is learning the hard way the importance of background checks before a big speech.

The Republican saluted a man who happens to be a registered sex offender during his State of the State Address on Wednesday, reports The Journal Sentinel.

Walker praised Christopher Barber for turning a seasonal job as a welder into a full-time position during his remarks, as the governor emphasized his ability to create jobs in the state. What's more, several Wisconsin newspapers ran a photo of Barber waving to the audience inside the state Assembly chamber. Barber was one of several people mentioned by Walker in his remarks as examples of "people hired since I took office."

The Journal Sentinel reports: "Records show that he is a registered sex offender with two felonies and three drunken-driving offenses. Because of his checkered past, Barber has been in and out of jail and prison for much of the past decade, with his probation having been revoked at least twice."

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson told the Milwaukee newspaper that the governor's administration contacted employers looking for people hired since Walker took office in 2011. Ariens Co., which makes snowblowers and riding mowers, recommended Barber. He declined to respond to the newspaper's question about whether Barber was vetted.

"Obviously, if we had been aware of this individual's prior convictions, he would not have been invited to participate," Evenson told The Journal Sentinel.

Walker is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

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