Wisconsin governor blasts allegations as political

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2014 2:38 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rejected on Friday prosecutors' accusations of illegal coordination between his campaign and conservative groups and said they were politically motivated.

Neither Walker, a potential Republican White House hopeful for 2016, nor anyone else was charged in an investigation launched nearly two years ago by prosecutors under a Wisconsin law that requires the probes to be conducted in secret.

"This is a case that's been resolved," Walker said in a brief interview on the morning talk show "Fox & Friends." "What you see is the left and others out there trying to stir things up."

Walker's comments came a day a U.S. appeals court unsealed documents from the investigation. Prosecutors alleged that Walker's campaign created a complex network of organizations that allowed them to circumvent Wisconsin campaign finance laws.

The details of the investigation may hurt Walker's political aspirations and his campaign for re-election in November, political analysts said on Friday.

"This could qualify as a black cloud or not, depending on how it develops," said Larry Sabato, who leads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "He has to resolve it."

In the documents, prosecutors asserted that Walker's campaign coordinated fundraising with conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, during recall elections for state Senate candidates in 2011 and Walker in 2012.

In January, the state judge overseeing the investigation concluded that prosecutors had not shown probable cause that campaign finance laws had been violated.

Wisconsin Club for Growth accused prosecutors in a federal lawsuit of violating their free speech rights and a federal judge agreed.

Walker, a polarizing figure in Wisconsin because of his push for a law that restricts the power of public-sector unions, has taken steps toward a possible presidential bid, meeting with big Republican donors and publishing a book.

Sabato said Walker must first win re-election to have any chance at a White House bid and appeared to be communicating to supporters a lack of concern during his interview Friday.

Wisconsin voters have been about evenly divided throughout Walker's tenure, with a few undecided voters in the middle, and the documents' release may have limited impact, said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University political poll in Wisconsin.

"Partisan perceptions are so strong on these matters that the net political effect is pretty modest because people see what they want to see through their partisan lenses," Franklin said.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Leslie Adler)