MADISON — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has created a legal defense fund in the wake of an ongoing John Doe investigation into some of those who served as aides to Walker while he was Milwaukee’s county executive. Some say the fact that Walker has set up this legal defense indicates he is also being investigated.
The John Doe investigation into activities during Walker’s time as county executive has already resulted in charges for four former Walker aides and appointees. Now, Walker has announced he has set up a legal defense fund, though he’s said he has “no information to believe he’s the target” of any investigation.
The controversy comes with the circumstances in which an elected official can set up a legal defense fund. Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, says based on the rules, Walker has to at least be under criminal investigation to set up the fund.
“If you are under criminal investigation, about to be charged with crimes, or have been convicted of crimes for illegal use of campaign finances or illegal election practices,” Tate said.
Walker says he falls under none of these rules. “This is literally, purely the Government Accountability Board suggesting per our request – asking them what the proper way to do this was,” Walker said.
Walker says the fund will pay for expenses incurred in cooperating with the John Doe inquiry, and will use no public money.
Tate says he wants to know where the money is coming from. “We think as someone who claims to be the most transparent governor in the nation, that he should come clean about who’s funding his criminal defense. He should come clean about who’s funded it in the past,” Tate said.
“For that process, there’s requirements, disclosures, just like there are with campaign accounts. Once disbursements are made, it all has to be reported through the normal reporting requirements that you get from any other donations,” Walker said.
Walker can transfer unlimited funds from his campaign to the defense fund with contributors’ consent.
The legal defense fund is called the Scott Walker Trust.