Walker Responds To New Findings From John Doe Documents

Walker Apparently Encouraged Groups To Donate To Club For Growth, Which Received $700K From GTAC

Gov. Scott Walker speaking at a recent campaign event. Photo: Shawn Johnson/WPR News.

Gov. Scott Walker spent part of the weekend answering questions about the latest documents released in a now-suspended John Doe investigation.

The federal court documents released Friday in Milwaukee were from the second John Doe probe that looked into potential illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign team and the Wisconsin Club for Growth around the time of the 2011 and 2012 state Senate recall elections and the governor’s recall race.

The documents suggest Walker encouraged wealthy people to send large amounts of funding to Club for Growth. At a campaign stop Saturday in Racine, Walker said that suggestion is based on bits and pieces of information,

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“This is more evidence of a political witch hunt, and it’s been disproved not once, but twice in state and federal courts,” said Walker.

Walker said he did try to help connect Republican state senators to money for the 2011 recalls, but he said he’s not soliciting donations for Wisconsin Club for Growth this year.

Walker said that a club leader, R.J. Johnson, remains an advisor to this year’s campaign.

The documents also show Gogebic Taconite — the mining company that wants to construct a large iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin — donated $700,000 to Club for Growth. State lawmakers later passed the mining legislation the company wanted, and the Department of Natural Resources is now monitoring the early stages of GTAC’s mining plan.

Walker said on Saturday that the donations won’t make it harder to the DNR to do an impartial job.

“Ultimately, they’re going to have to work with the federal government—the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers—on that,” said Walker. “We said we want a process for safe and environmentally sound mining, and we changed that process so we could have that.”

News of the size of GTAC’s political donation disappointed some northern Wisconsin residents who would live near the iron ore mine, including Iron County resident Bobbi Rongstad. She said she has met some good people at the DNR.

“If their boss, Cathy Stepp, is being told what to do by Governor Walker, then how can we trust that those people in the DNR will be able to make the right decision?” said Rongstad.

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke said she’s been critical of the governor’s approach to the mining legislation from the start. She said if Walker steering donations to the Club for Growth isn’t illegal, it should be.