Gov. Scott Walker has opened a legal defense fund to help pay for the legal expenses surrounding the John Doe investigation, according to a statement released by his campaign.
The statement released Friday said in order to fulfill his commitment to working with the investigation, Walker will form the legal fund to pay for the expenses incurred in cooperating with the investigation.
The fund would operate in accordance with Wisconsin law and the campaign has not attempted to use public money for the defense fund, the statement also said.
In addition, Walker has been fully cooperating with the investigation over the last two years, the campaign said.
So far, the John Doe investigators have charged four former aides to Walker over a variety of issues from during his time as Milwaukee County executive.
A statement released by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said Wisconsin has never had a governor who needed a defense fund before Walker.
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck said according to state statutes, a state official cannot set up a legal defense fund unless the official or one of the official’s workers is under investigation.
“It’s difficult to tell what it means,” Heck said. “The statements have been very vague. I think at the very least Walker needs to come out and explain what this means and specifically state that he is not under investigation. To not say anything is bad for everyone, including Walker, and leaves us all in the dark.”
Heck also explained who is allowed to contribute to a legal defense fund of this kind. He said if a person gets the written consent of the contributor, they can use existing campaign contribution donations for the legal defense fund.
Heck added once the money is in the legal defense fund, it then has to be disclosed to the public.
The governor cannot take money from campaign contributions from lobbyists and put it into the fund, according to the statues.
In a statement from One Wisconsin Now, Director Mike Browne said the governor’s announcement raises more questions than it answers and urged the governor to disclose who is paying for the criminal defense lawyers.