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Gov. Scott Walker addresses John Doe document leak

Documents were made public on Wednesday
Posted: 10:09 AM, Sep 15, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-15 14:28:06-04
Gov. Scott Walker addresses John Doe document leak

The governor, on Thursday, said a donation to the Wisconsin Club For Growth in support of his efforts to beat back a recall effort in 2012 did not influence policy at the State Capitol. 

Documents surfaced this week showing Gov. Scott Walker asked business leaders to donate to a conservative group supporting his 2012 recall campaign. 

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that it obtained leaked documents showing Walker and his fundraisers approached corporate leaders and asked them to donate to Wisconsin Club for Growth. 

According to the documents published by the Guardian, Walker sought money from the head of a company that produced lead used in paint, and after the owner gave $750,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth, GOP lawmakers passed legislation granting lead manufacturers immunity from paint-poisoning lawsuits. 

On Thursday in Edgerton, Walker said the policy change was consistent with his previous campaign position, that frivolous lawsuits had a negative impact on Wisconsin’s economy. 

“For decades I talked about tort reform and the need to reign in frivolous out of control lawsuits,” Walker said. 

In regards to paint-poisoning lawsuits, Walker said previous policy allowed people to sue companies, who employ Wisconsin workers, even if there was no evidence that company had anything to do with what the lawsuit was about. 

“That put us at an incredible disadvantage in terms of employment opportunities in this state,” Walker said. 

The governor also rejected the idea that he had done anything wrong during the 2012 recall campaign, or officially coordinated with Club for Growth. 

“Multiple courts have looked at this and ruled the allegations were baseless,” Walker said. “We were under attack in early 2011, and we thought it was important to get the message out about the facts."

Assembly Democrats said during a news conference Wednesday that the documents raise questions about what other bills the GOP has passed in exchange for donations and that clean, open government in Wisconsin is dead. 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling allows unlimited political spending by corporations. 

State Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) said the John Doe investigation and the document leak are indicative of a campaign finance system that needs more transparency. 

“The public should have a right to know who you got your money from,” Riemer said. “I think this is an example of the direction we're headed in because the law allows these shell organizations to take lots of secret money and not report it to the public."

No charges were ever filed in connection with the John Doe probe into the 2012 recall election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court previously halted the investigation, ruling it was based on invalid legal theory. 

Prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision, and it’s expected to consider doing so in the coming weeks. 

Watch Walker’s full conversation with Newsradio 620 WTMJ in the video below: