MILWAUKEE — In a recall campaign where voters say their number one concern is jobs, Gov. Scott Walker again faced questions about his criminal legal defense fund Tuesday, May 15th.
The John Doe investigation into several of Walker’s aides who served under him while he was Milwaukee’s County Executive has resulted in charged against three of those aides, a Walker appointee and a major Walker campaign donor.
The key question is: Is Walker himself under investigation?
Walker says he’s not a target of the John Doe investigation, but has set up a legal defense fund – a move usually reserved for elected officials under investigation. Now, officials with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board say that just because Walker has a defense fund, doesn’t mean he’s a target in the investigation.
Walker says he is not a target, so it is likely the legal defense fund is being used to pay legal bills for Walker’s former staffers. Tuesday, May 15th, Milwaukee’s Mayor and Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial recall election, Tom Barrett, demanded to know their names.
“Is he paying the legal defense fees for aides? For associates? Is he paying legal defense fees for the man who’s being charged as a pedophile? For the woman who had an expansive network?” Barrett said.
GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy says there is no legal requirement to identify the people who may be using Walker’s legal defense fund. Kennedy says the existence of the fund means that either Walker himself, the campaign as a whole, or particular agents of Walker’s campaign are being investigated for crimes, but that’s about all he can say.
“This puts this issue squarely into Governor Walker’s lap. He and he alone has the authority to tell us why he has created this fund,” Barrett said.
FOX6 News asked Walker why he has the legal defense fund Tuesday. “It’s the same reason we’ve said all along. Mr. Chisholm (Milwaukee’s District Attorney) is someone we asked to look into this in the first place – to look at the tens of thousands of emails and other documents they’ve asked us to is not, I think a good use of the governor’s time,” Walker said.
Walker recently transferred $60,000 from his campaign coffers to his legal fund.
Barrett sent Walker a letter on Tuesday, May 15h, demanding that he disclose the names of donors whose money is being used to pay legal bills. “Governor Walker has refused not only to tell us the reason he created this fund, but he’s also refusing to tell the people of the state who’s funding this defense fund,” Barrett said.
Walker says the issue is a distraction. “I think it’s a bogus issue. I think we’ve talked in every way. We’ve released information without request. I think it’s one where they’re hoping for something more, and there isn’t,” Walker said.
Walker says he wants the focus of the campaign to be about jobs, and he’s promising new numbers released Wednesday, May 16th will show a “brighter” outlook for the state’s economy.