Wisconsin governor to meet DA probing his ex-office

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 03, 2012 6:28 PM
Wisconsin governor to meet DA probing his ex-office

(Reuters) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker agreed to meet prosecutors investigating allegations of illegal political fund-raising in his office when he was the top elected official in Milwaukee County, and he has hired lawyers, the governor said on Friday.

The first-term Republican said he would meet voluntarily with Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, who brought charges against several of Walker's former aides last month.

Walker has been cooperating with the investigation, now in its second year, and hired two attorneys, Mike Steinle and John Gallo, "to insure that I am in the best position possible to continue aiding the inquiry," he said.

Walker, who is also facing a possible recall election sparked by his efforts to curtain public sector unions, served as the Milwaukee County executive from 2002 until he was elected governor in 2010.

"My cooperation in this matter extends beyond a willingness to supply any and all requested documents," Walker said in a statement issued by the campaign he has put together to defend his seat in the recall effort.

"I have already said that I would be happy to sit down with the people looking into these issues and answer any additional questions they may have."

Last month, Chisholm charged four former Walker aides as a result of the investigation.

Investigators say they have uncovered evidence that Walker aides, who were on the public payroll at the time, set up a private e-mail network inside the county executive's office that was used to raise campaign money and do political work, in violation of state law.

The charges against the former aides follow a fierce partisan battle in the state last year triggered by a successful Republican effort to push through controversial measures to curb the collective bargaining power of public sector workers.

Walker's opponents submitted petitions with more than a million signatures to force a recall election, far more than needed.

Officials at the state's Government Accountability Board are working to verify the petitions, which could trigger special elections in the late spring or early summer.

Democrats have yet to settle on an opponent to face Walker in any recall, and he retains a strong base.

(Reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Daniel Trotta)