During a conference call today with reporters, state Democratic Chair Mike Tate said he is calling on the Government Accountability Board to look more closely at why Gov. Scott Walker needs a criminal defense fund.
Tate cited a state statute that outlines the reasons for a government official or their agent to establish a criminal defense fund: by either being a target of an investigation or pending being charged with a crime. Tate said Walker doesn't meet those benchmarks, based on the governor's own statements.
"First he said he hadn't been contacted about the investigation," he said. "Then he's saying he was contacted and is cooperating."
The question becomes, Tate continued, whether or not Walker is lying about the corruption probe or if he set up an illegal fund.
In either case, the Democrats want the GAB "to address and adjudicate" the matter at their meeting next Tuesday.
"We call on the GAB so people can get answers," Tate added. "This is especially important because we have a pending recall election. Voters should be able to make an informed decision."
Reid Magney, spokesperson for the GAB, said the agency has no comment at this time.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is Walker's presumed opponent in the June 5 recall election. He issued a written statement today about the governor's defense fund and the investigation into Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive.
"It’s time for Walker to come clean about whether he is a target of this investigation or not,” said Barrett in a written statement. “Character matters, and I’ve always tried to hold myself to the highest level of integrity. I will bring this same commitment to the governor's office, and that’s why Walker needs to answer these questions for the people of Wisconsin.”
Last month, Walker moved $60,000 from a campaign fund into his criminal defense fund. He announced in March the creation of the Scott Walker Trust fund. According to Tate, the governor has retained counsel out of Chicago that Tate says has experience defending organized crime.
The John Doe investigation is targeting former Walker staffers from when he was the Milwaukee County Executive. So far, six former aides have been charged with a variety of crimes including using county time to campaign for their boss, stealing money from county fund accounts and illegal use of taxpayer money for campaign activities.