The Milwaukee County executive’s office released another wave of documents Tuesday, seized during a John Doe investigation that resulted in the convictions of six people tied to Governor Scott Walker when he was in charge of that office. The timing of the release of 16,000 documents from the case is raising questions though, coming just two weeks before Walker faces a tough reelection fight against Democrat Mary Burke.
Walker released a statement Tuesday morning, saying “Clearly, the highly partisan Milwaukee County Executive, who has given $63,000 to my opponent, released four-year-old emails two weeks before the election to distract voters from my opponent’s failed record. This case was closed nearly two years ago. Voters see through the political motives of my opponents to stop our successful reforms which are moving Wisconsin forward.”
The records released Tuesday are just some of the massive number of documents seized during the John Doe investigation, which was looking into allegations that workers in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive were doing campaign work on taxpayer time. The governor was never charged with any wrongdoing, but members of his staff and associates were convicted under the probe.
Current Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s office said he was not directly involved in the decision to release the records Tuesday, relying on corporation counsel to review and release them instead. Milwaukee County attorney Paul Bargren said in a statement that no outside influences determined when the information was going to be released, noting that “work has been underway full time by a group of four to six reviewers under my supervision since June 30. The material had to be reviewed carefully, and at the same time, there was substantial public interest in the material….As material was ready for release, I chose to make it available rather than hold on to it.”
The release came just hours after Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke put out a new campaign targeting Walker over the John Doe investigation. Speaking with reporters before casting an in-person absentee ballot Tuesday in Madison, Burke said there were no discussions with the county executive about the release of the documents on the same day. Burke said “the timing wasn’t determined based on that…the timing is about that people, when they go to the polls, need to consider Governor Walker’s entire record.”