Wisconsin Governor Scott Walter, a polarizing Republican leader who made national headlines when he battled with labor unions last year, has set up a criminal defense fund in anticipation of an investigation and possible criminal charges related to several of his former staff members.
According to a recent report from the Huffington Post, Gov. Walker has begun to raise money for the “John Doe” investigation of activities that took place during his tenure as a Milwaukee County executive.
In an official statement released a few weeks ago, Gov. Walker said that officials in Milwaukee County have been “examining issues related to former employees of the County” for almost two years.
He also said that he has “repeatedly pledged” his “cooperation with that inquiry,” and he promised not to use taxpayers’ dollars to assist him in combating potential charges.
In order to avoid using public money for his legal defense, Gov. Walker has established a fund to collect cash to hire a criminal defense attorney to help him defend himself. The staunch conservative would no doubt be embarrassed if he had to rely on public dollars to defend any charges against him.
The investigation, though, has become fairly serious. Sources indicate that the investigation has already led to charges being filed against six of the governor’s top employees.
Apparently, the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office believes that some of Gov. Walker’s former staffers did political work with money that belonged to taxpayers.
Not surprisingly, Democrats in Wisconsin have leapt at the chance to criticize the controversial governor. According to Mike Tate, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Walker is the first governor in Wisconsin history to ever need to create a criminal defense fund.
In Tate’s words, Gov. Walker “has bent and broken the rules that should govern the conduct of an executive. Every citizen, regardless of party, agrees that our government should be free of corruption. It looks very much like Scott Walker has not given Wisconsin this honor.”
While Gov. Walker should be assumed innocent until he is proven guilty, the court of public opinion in Wisconsin seems to already have weighed in on the matter.
A recent poll conducted by the Marquette University Law School found that the governor’ favorability rating had recently dropped to just 46 percent, and that 52 percent of survey respondents said the pending investigation was “really something serious.”
Time will tell whether the governor’s criminal defense fund will even be necessary, but waves of discontent seem to be pouring through Wisconsin.