Gov. Walker under fire for touting sex offender during State of State

MADISON (WITI) -- Governor Scott Walker is doing some explaining after his State of the State Address on Wednesday night, January 22nd. It has to do with one of the workers standing behind him during that address. That worker is a convicted sex offender, and he is from northeast Wisconsin.

At the State of the State address, Governor Walker heralded workers who have found jobs since he's taken office.

But one man -- Chris Barber of Two Rivers, employed as a welder at Ariens company is a registered sex offender, and a felon.

He was convicted in a 2004 for third degree sexual assault in Marinette County. Barber also has multiple DUIs.

At an event in the Town of Lawrence Thursday, Gov. Walker explained why Barber's status slipped past his staff.

"This is not an endorsement of people personally. It was simply an example of people who have found work since I've taken office. All the other individuals were vetted. In this case, that particular individual was added at the last minute," Gov. Walker said.

It doesn't take much to do a simple background check using the Wisconsin State circuit court website, or CCAP. Barber's criminal history is there, for the public to see.

Ariens Company spokesperson says they were also unaware of Barber's past when they chose him to represent the company.

"We selected Chris based on his work performance at Ariens Company. He started as a seasonal employee in the assembly area and he was put on full time and he did training in the welding program to get his certificate to become a full-time welder," Ann Stilp said.

Per state statute, employers cannot use criminal history found on CCAP to discriminate against potential employees.

However, Ariens says it is re-evaluating its background checks done during the hiring process.