MADISON – As the arrest tally of Scott Walker operatives continues to rise in the widening John Doe criminal corruption probe, questions are circling about when Scott Walker became aware of the criminal abuse of taxpayer resources in his office to conduct illegal campaign activity on his behalf.
But this isn’t the first time Scott Walker has come under scrutiny for using his administration to conduct campaign activity.
As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in July 2005, Walker acknowledged in an August 2004 interview that his former Chief of Staff, Jim Villa, had acted as a conduit between Walker’s office and political operatives setting up a Chicago campaign fund-raiser for Walker with Nick Hurtgen, a former aide to then-Gov. Tommy Thompson who was seeking county municipal bond business at the time of the Walker fund-raiser and has since been indicted in a federal corruption probe.
Then, like now, Walker said he hadn’t been aware that his chief of staff was illegally campaigning on county time. Walker characterized the incidents as “inappropriate,” but did note that it appeared to have only been “a couple of times.”
Jim Villa, who has been referred to as “the Karl Rove of Milwaukee,” claimed his activities “may have been an inadvertent mistake” and were “a fairly isolated” accident.
“Given the pattern of Scott Walker’s advisers conducting political activity on his behalf, and Walker’s continued employ of the very same bad actors, his pleas of ignorance just don’t wash,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “We now know that Walker’s misuse of county resources to advance his political career dates as far back as 2003. If Scott Walker were to be believed, he would literally have been unaware of activity going on for as many as seven years right under his own nose with people central to his political ambitions. Scott Walker himself has even acknowledged past improprieties – at this point, he no longer has plausible deniability.”