It’s been more than a week since previously sealed court documents revealed that law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe that Scott Walker committed felony misconduct in office, yet as the governor travels the country campaigning for president Wisconsinites still don’t have any answers about his role in the investigation or his million dollar criminal defense.
Walker has repeatedly stated that he was not a target of the John Doe investigation into his Milwaukee County office, but a court filing in a federal civil lawsuit revealed last week that Walker was a subject of the investigation that resulted in charges for six Walker aides and associates, with jail time for four of them.
“I submit that there is probable cause to believe that Scott Walker, John Hiller and Andrew Jensen, in concert together, committed a felony, i.e., Misconduct in Public Office…” investigator Robert Stetler wrote in a September 13, 2011 request for a search warrant.
Yet two weeks after that date, Walker began a string of denials that he had knowledge of the probe.
Despite repeated denials that he was a target of the criminal probe, Walker in March of 2012 opened a criminal defense fund. The law in Wisconsin is very clear: an elected official can only establish a criminal defense fund if they, or their agent, is under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance and election laws (Chapters 11 and 12, Wisconsin Statutes.) If Walker wasn’t paying for his own criminal defense, since he claims that he merely was assisting prosecutors, then he must have been paying for the criminal defense of his aides or associates – Wisconsin law does not provide for an elected official creating a legal defense fund for the sole purpose assisting the prosecution or aiding the investigation of Ch. 11 or 12 violations.
As of June 2014, Walker had spent more than one million dollars on his criminal defense. Walker’s most recent campaign finance report shows an additional $173,424 in legal fees paid to the firm of Walker attorney Steven Biskupic since January 1, 2015.
Timeline of Walker denials
9/27/11: “To me, you look at any of the stories that you and others have been a part of – you’ve either got people who don’t know what they’re talking about as sources or they’re violating the law,” said Walker, who added that he has not been contacted personally by investigators.”
12/3/11: “Have, have I been contacted? No. I have not been contacted personally. In terms of anything with the campaign, I mean there was stuff, questions, asked about, stuff that was brought up earlier in the year, with Darlene Wink, and that was six month, or actually it’s been more like nine or ten months ago, but nothing that I’ve been brought up recently. Nothing that involved me directly.”
1/5/12: Following the arrest of longtime aide Tim Russell for theft from charities intended to benefit wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, Walker stated that he was “disappointed” in the charges, but didn’t know who may or may not be involved in the John Doe investigation.
1/27/12: “I think it’s very clear when all of this is done, no matter how much time it takes, and again my campaign has been involved with cooperating with them for more than a year, I have every confidence that when this is completed, people will see that our integrity remains intact.”
2/3/12: “Last year, my representatives voluntarily contacted Mr. Chisholm’s office to arrange a time to discuss any outstanding issues. I will be voluntarily meeting with Mr. Chisholm,” Walker said. “To assemble additional background information, I hired counsel to insure that I am in the best position possible to continue aiding the inquiry.”
3/9/12: “We reiterate that Gov. Walker has been told that he is not a target of this investigation.”
3/13/12: WTAQ reported that, “Walker said one of his campaign lawyers spoke with officials of the Government Accountability Board – and he was told that the defense fund was the best way for him to proceed.” Walker also stated that his campaign attorneys had been advised that he was not a target of the John Doe investigation.
“People in Wisconsin and around the country deserve answers about why law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe that Governor Walker committed felonies in office,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Melissa Baldauff said Thursday. “While campaigning for president over the past week, Walker has had all the time in the world to say he would oppose abortion even when it was necessary to save a woman’s life, yet he won’t talk about his role in an investigation that sent four of his top aides to jail or say why there was probable cause to believe he committed felony misconduct in office.”
Unanswered Questions for Scott Walker
- When did you first become aware that you were a target in the first and second John Doe investigations?
- Did you ask for or receive immunity in exchange for your testimony in the first John Doe investigation? In the second investigation?
- Are you in possession of emails exchanged on the secret email network revealed by the first John Doe investigation? If so, will you release those records?
- Since you’ve stated that nothing you did was illegal, will you release documents from the second John Doe investigation?
- Will you make public any statements or depositions you’ve given, and/or agreements you entered into, with district attorneys in connection with either John Doe investigation?
- Will you disclose the donors to your criminal defense fund?
- You said that you created your criminal defense fund after consultation with the Government Accountability Board. Now that the investigation is over and the fund is closed, will you release any advice you received from GAB regarding the creation of the fund?
- Wisconsin law doesn’t allow a criminal defense fund to be used to assist prosecutors. If you weren’t paying for your own criminal defense with your criminal defense fund whose were you paying for?
- Now that the investigation is closed, will you take any and all questions from reporters that you have previously declined to answer, citing your inability to talk about an ongoing investigation?
- Will you coordinate with outside groups on your presidential campaign?
- Did you personally approve payments to John Doe figures facing prosecution, like Kelly Rindfleisch, from your campaign and/or from entities associated with the Republican Party of Wisconsin?
- Did you ask Club for Growth to call for John Chisholm’s removal from office? Will you attempt to remove him? Were you deposed by John Chisholm or anyone from his office?