Governor Scott Walker says he’s “very disappointed” by allegations that a former member of his staff in the Milwaukee County executive’s office stole funds intended for veterans and their families.
Prosecutors on Thursday charged 61-year-old Kevin Kavanaugh and 48-year-old Tim Russell with using their ties to a Milwaukee County veterans program to steal thousands of dollars. Assuming the charges prove to be true, Walker says those funds should have been used to help military families and the annual “Operation Freedom” event at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Russell was a county staffer under Walker’s county administration, while Kavanaugh was the finance officer of a group that received money from Operation Freedom.
Walker notes the investigation appears to have been based on questions raised by his administration in the county executive’s office, after $11,000 was reported missing from the program’s funding. Although, Walker says he had no idea Russell was allegedly stealing money and his office had no further contact with prosecutors beyond asking them to look into the issue.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:09)
Meanwhile, Democrats argued Thursday that the charges in the criminal probe send “disturbing signals about Walker’s management and his judgment.” In a statement, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate accused the governor of running “his administrations in great secrecy” and says Walker “owes the people of Wisconsin an explanation for his role in these alleged bad acts.”
When asked by reporters Thursday if the charges could impact the recall effort against him, Walker said “anyone can try and twist things, but in the end, I think people will realize it was my office that brought it to their attention.”