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Amazon astroturf hits Wisconsin governor’s new book

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The largest government employee union in the country issued a call-to-arms to its 80,000 Facebook followers, encouraging them to leave negative Amazon.com reviews for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.”

“Don’t waste a second reading it though,” reads a post from the Facebook page of the American Federation of State, City, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “Let us save you some time by sending you right to the parts where he mocks public employees as lazy, overpaid, and corrupt here and here.”

Walker’s book was released November 19.

AFSCME, a 1.6 million-member public sector arm of the powerful AFL-CIO, has targeted Walker ever since his successful 2010 gubernatorial bid. Walker, a Republican, helped roll back public sector union power in the historically progressive state, and went on to survive a multimillion-dollar recall effort by organized labor.

Walker signed legislation that cut back on some of the collective bargaining rights of state and local government unions. Walker’s bill ended the automatic union dues deductions from the paychecks of public employees, limiting a huge source of revenue for unions like AFSCME. Walker’s bill also increased the amount public workers contribute to their health care plans and pensions.

Because of those union-busting measures, Walker faced a 2012 recall election. A solid majority [pdf] of Wisconsin voters chose to keep him in office. But big labor continues its sallies against the governor.

“Now, here’s your chance to tell Scott Walker how you feel about him — and his latest attacks on public employees,” read AFSCME’s post.

“Submit your own review here on Amazon and then copy it into the comments below as well.”

AFSCME follower Marianne Brunelle left a negative review of the book. “He needs to be gone. This book is nothing but full of lies!” wrote Brunelle. “He should be ashamed of himself. DO NOT buy this book unless you like reading lie after lie.”

Hours after their initial post, the union bragged that its effort had helped drag the average rating of Walker’s book down from a 2.5 star rating.

“Nice work everyone – his book is down to an average of just 2 stars now,” wrote AFSCME.

Jacquelynn Burke, a publicist for Sentinel, which published Walker’s book, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “there are hundreds of Amazon reviews from people who clearly haven’t read ‘Unintimidated’ and are angry at Governor Walker for political reasons.”

“This is, sadly, very common for books by controversial leaders,” said Burke.

“Although Amazon has a link next to each review labeled ‘Report abuse’ it’s nearly impossible to report each personal attack. We have to hope that open-minded readers will disregard the personal attacks and focus on the comments by people who’ve actually read the book,” she added.

Amazon.com’s policy on this particular type of seemingly organized type of product review is unclear.

“It doesn’t matter where an item was purchased, or if it was a gift, or if the reviewer just borrowed it for a weekend,” reads Amazon’s contributor guidelines. “If someone feels moved to write a review of an item, and they are a registered Amazon.com customer, they are welcome.”

In another section, Amazon.com says it prohibits “the upload, download, or transmission of any Content that is unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable.”

Multiple requests for comment from Amazon.com by TheDCNF were not returned.

“AFSCME regularly communicates with our members about many issues,” said AFSCME spokesman, Chris Fleming, in a statement to TheDCNF. “We simply reminded them of Governor Walker’s abysmal jobs record and his attitude toward public services and the men and women who provide them.”

The average rating for Walker’s book has improved in recent days. The book currently has a 3.2 rating out of 5 stars, with 243 five-star ratings and 191 one-star ratings. The book is listed by Amazon.com as a #1 best seller in the “United States Local Government” section.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.