Could John Doe investigation turn gubernatorial recall election?

MILWAUKEE -- On the same day that a new Marquette Law School poll was released, showing a dead heat between Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the gubernatorial recall election less than one week away, Barrett was on the defensive, attacking Walker over the ongoing John Doe investigation.

Barrett called on Walker Wednesday, May 2nd to publicly identify the donors paying for his legal defense fund in the John Doe investigation - an investigation that has led to charges against several of Walker's former aides while he served as Milwaukee's County Executive.

"I think the state deserves to know who is paying these bills. Six of Scott Walker's top aides and associates have been charged with three felonies and 15 misdemeanors," Barrett said.

In a polarizing recall election where almost all voters seem to have made up their minds, the John Doe investigation looms as the great unknown. "It's a cloud that hangs over this whole election. If you look at the dollars that are accumulating, there's clearly something going on here," Barrett said.

This week, Walker's campaign reported that it transferred $60,000 to his legal defense fund. "(That was done) for the very same reason I reported it on my state ethics form. It's no different from my information there. We were the ones that initiated this -- my office, my chief of staff at the time went to (Milwaukee County District Attorney) John Chisholm and asked him to look into this. We've continued to cooperate throughout the process, and we'll continue to do so," Walker said.

Walker says he is not a target of the investigation. "If he isn't a target, then why does he have a legal defense fund?" Barrett said. "That's ridiculous. We've seen from the spokesperson from the state Democratic Party, he'll say or do anything including, at some point in his career, burning a flag to make a statement, so that speaks volumes about how far they're willing to go to distort the truth," Walker said.

Walker took a shot at Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski who is rumored to have burned an American flag when he was a college student. The Democrats say that's a deflection. "It's a pretty sad state of affairs that our governor is stooping to that level," Mike Tate with the Democratic Party said.

The latest Marquette University Law School poll shows nearly 70 percent of voters are aware of the John Doe investigation and the public is split over whether it's something serious or not. "It's certainly a wild card because no one knows what it might be and which direction it might go in," Charles Franklin said.

Barrett cites state law, which says only governmental officials who are being investigated or charged can set up a legal defense fund.

The Walker campaign has said it worked with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to set it up.

The Democrats filed a complaint with the GAB and the GAB says it has no comment other than that it has received the complaint.

Related stories: