AP Interview: Walker confident he's clear in investigation
- Article by: SCOTT BAUER
- Associated Press
- November 26, 2012 - 10:39 AM
MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press that he remains "absolutely" confident that he is not a subject of a criminal investigation involving former aides in his Milwaukee County office.
Walker, speaking to the AP at his Capitol office, said none of the emails or other evidence revealed by prosecutors for the first time in court last week during the sentencing of his former deputy chief of staff suggest that he's a target of the investigation.
Walker also said he had no knowledge of anyone in his Milwaukee County executive's office doing illegal campaign work and if he had, he would have stopped it.
Walker has not been charged with anything in the secret probe, known as a "John Doe" investigation, by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office. Six people have been charged on counts ranging from exceeding campaign contribution limits to theft. Four have been convicted, including Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's former county deputy chief-of-staff.
Walker has maintained from the beginning that he was not the center of the investigation, and he said Monday that nothing revealed in last week's hearing, in which Rindfleisch was sentenced to six months in jail for misconduct in office, makes him believe otherwise.
"Absolutely," Walker said when asked if he was confident he was not the subject of an investigation.
Prosecutors revealed emails that showed Rindfleisch and other members of Walker's county executive staff were in regular contact with people running Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The emails showed they held daily telephone meetings, discussed how to handle politically sensitive topics and even suggested planting stories in the press to distract attention from problems at Milwaukee County's mental health hospital, where nine people have died since 2010.
Democrats have said the emails show that Walker was involved in illegal campaigning.
Walker on Monday described the contacts as routine.
The morning phone calls were about coordinating staffing and scheduling issues between the campaign and county office and discussing how to handle questions from the media, Walker said.
"Often times there's not a distinction between asking a political question in the official office and the campaign office," he said. "All those things are things that need to be coordinated. There's nothing wrong with that."
Walker said he had built a firewall to ensure county workers were not ordered to do campaign work while on county time. He said he didn't know about the things Rindfleisch did that resulted in her being charged with misconduct in office, including working on Republican Brett Davis' 2010 lieutenant governor campaign on county time using a secret email system.
"If I had known about that, we would take taken action," he said.
Walker served eight years as Milwaukee County executive until he was elected governor in November 2010. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the probe into the county office in May 2010, some six months before the election.
Walker, who survived a June recall election, said he is busy working on putting together the next state budget and is not looking ahead to a potential run for the presidency in 2016. He and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee this year, have both been mentioned as possible candidates in four years.
"I've worked far too hard to become the governor and governor again to worry about anything else after that," Walker said. "I'm just not thinking about it. After two elections in less than two years, I'm just happy being governor, still being governor."
Walker said he has talked with Ryan, who lives in Janesville, but not about running for president.
"I've talked to him about pheasant hunting, I've talked to him about going to Mass, I've talked to him about things in Janesville, but I haven't talked with him about anything presidential," Walker said.
© 2017 Star Tribune