Governor: Business conducted ethically in current office

Walker's current office staff undergo ethics training
Governor: Business conducted ethically in current office

Gov. Scott Walker said he has created a “clear distinction between things that are political and official” in the Governor’s Office.

It was blurred lines between political work and official government operations that spurred a three-year investigation into Walker’s Milwaukee County Executive Office. Walker’s deputy chief of staff was convicted of misconduct in office for doing campaign work on the taxpayer dime.

Walker wasn’t charged in the probe. The release last week of 28,000 pages of documents collected during the probe are leading to a new round of questions about illegal campaign work going on in Walker’s county executive office.

Walker said Tuesday that he now carries one cellphone for official state business and one for personal use. And Walker said his staff undergoes ethics training.

“Since I took office on Jan. 3 I’ve had a very clear standard in terms of a very comprehensive ethics package,” Walker said. “We actually have our staff and cabinet go through training and they have to sign a code of conduct.”

That ethics policy says that employees use of personal laptops or phones during the day should be limited, and that Blackberries and work computers should not be used for purposes unrelated to state business.

That doesn’t speak to the use of personal email addresses, which is what both Walker and other aides used in the Milwaukee County office to discuss both campaign and county business.

News 3 asked Walker if he understood why people would want to know as a manager whether or not he was aware of the emails and separate wireless system that was used in his office.

“I understand, but what I say is, ‘Don’t look at anything I say, look at what the District Attorney’s Office did,'” Walker said. “Not one that was of my own party but one that’s led by a Democrat went through them, and as you all know went extensively into other cases and brought charges forward where appropriate. I think again, don’t take my word for it, look at what the process did.”

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office did examine the emails as evidence in the John Doe cases, but they were looking for illegal activity. Others have said the activity happening in the office was unethical.

“I think you look at the things we’ve done and it’s clear from the district attorney standpoint that they looked at things in great length and great detail and that’s why I point out they closed the investigation,” Walker said.

Walker told reporters he wouldn’t address the content of the emails because he needed to be familiar with them and he didn’t feel that it was a good use of his time to look through them all.

He said he’s focused on the Senate taking up his tax cut bill and other jobs initiatives.