Barrett Issues Letter to Walker to Disclose Information on Governor's Legal Defense Fund
By Phil Walzak, Barrett for Wisconsin Communications Director
Tom Barrett issued a letter today to Scott Walker urging the governor to share with the public any and all information regarding an advisory opinion from the Government Accountability Board on the authorization of the creation of Walker's legal defense fund.
Barrett's letter comes a day after GAB official asserted in news reports that state law requires that the decision to disclose information regarding an advisory opinion on the formation of a legal defense fund rests only with the person or party requesting that advisory opinion. This statement by GAB came as many people have asked GAB in recent weeks to share details on the advisory opinion, since a legal defense fund can only be created by those under investigation or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices.
GAB's assertion indicates that it is up to Gov. Walker to decide if he is going to disclose this information with the public. Barrett's letter in full appears below.
May 15, 2012
Campaign Office Location Undisclosed
For several weeks, the general public has asked you to identify the legal authority and justification for the creation of your legal defense fund surrounding the investigation, arrest and/or indictment of six of your associates in the ongoing John Doe probe into your time as Milwaukee County Executive.
The question has generated increased interest in the wake of news that you recently transferred $60,000 from your campaign account to your legal defense fund. And Wisconsin statute says clearly that creation of such a fund is allowable only for those officials who are being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices
Thus far you have declined to address the issue for the people of Wisconsin. Yet late Monday afternoon, the Government Accountability Board asserted that state law prevents the public disclosure of information regarding the advisory opinion that allowed the creation of a legal defense – unless the person who requested that advisory opinion gives his or her explicit consent.
This means that the decision to disclose information about the creation of your legal defense fund rests squarely with you. The people of Wisconsin deserve to know the truth about your involvement in this investigation, and the compelling public interest for this information to be released is paramount. Without full disclosure, the people of Wisconsin will continue to wonder if their governor is breaking the law.
At various points throughout this investigation, you have dismissed calls for full disclosure of why and how you were granted permission to create a legal defense fund as political stunts and distractions. Yet there is no better way to finally put these questions to rest than to share with the public all information regarding the advisory opinion you received from GAB that allowed you to create your legal defense fund.
In the interests of transparency and openness, the people of Wisconsin urge you to release this information immediately.
LIMITED EXCEPTION: LEGAL DEFENSE FUND LIMITED TO DEFENSE OF VIOLATIONS ALLEGED UNDER CHAPTERS 11 AND 12,WISCONSIN STATUTES
Wisconsin Statutes permit a state government official who is being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws [chapter 11, Wisconsin Statutes] or prohibited election practices [chapter 12, Wisconsin Statutes] to establish a “legal defense fund” for expenditures supporting or defending the candidate while that person is being investigated for, or charged with, or convicted of a violation of those chapters.