By far the biggest beneficiary of a move earlier this year to turn three dozen civil service jobs into political appointments is Cindy Archer, the one-time top aide to Gov. Scott Walker whose house was raided by the FBI last week.
Archer served as Walker's deputy administration secretary until last month, when she abruptly shifted into a job as legislative liaison at the Department of Children and Families. She is being paid $99,449 a year - $39,129 more than the $60,320 the last person to hold the job made.
The governor could funnel such a huge increase into the job because earlier this year Republicans who control the Legislature went along with his plan to give him more political appointments. The change allows department secretaries to go around the normal hiring process and name whomever they want as chief counsel, communications director and legislative liaison.
Archer isn't the only one benefiting from the new system. One employee kept the same job and saw an 18% boost in pay; another is making 10% more than what her predecessor did.
The political appointments were created in the same legislation that eliminated most collective bargaining for public employees and required them to pay more for their health care and pensions. Paying more for benefits is costing an average state employee making $50,000 a year about $4,400, or 9%. Walker insisted most employees had to pay those costs because the state is "broke.
Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo said Archer was "a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done kind of person."
"Whenever I would ask for information from her, I'd just get it cut and dried," he said. "I found her to be refreshingly straightforward."
Thomas said Archer "stayed on message" and demanded that others follow her lead.
"They created an environment, if you weren't in line, you were gone" from the administrative services department, Thomas said. "That message resonated down to the employees."
Thomas called Archer Walker's "right-hand person."
"Whatever she said went," Thomas said. "I don't know if I could say fear was the attitude up there, but you definitely didn't go outside of the message and outside of the orders that were given."