MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker's campaign tried to distance itself Thursday from the controversy over reported settlement talks to end the John Doe probe into the state's recall elections.
A statement from his campaign said that neither the Republican Walker nor his campaign committee are parties to the federal lawsuit filed by another John Doe target, the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Therefore, the Walker camp said it has no legal standing to reach a settlement in that suit.
The statement did not mention the Doe investigation itself -- in which Walker's 2012 recall campaign was among several Republican candidacies being investigated for alleged illegal campaign coordination with outside groups.
The Club for Growth filed suit in federal court to end the probe, saying its free speech rights were violated because the conservative group had to remain quiet while Walker runs his current re-election campaign against Democrat Mary Burke.
Federal Judge Rudolph Randa twice struck down the Doe probe this month, for the reasons the club stated. Prosecutors have appealed. There's also a separate challenge to the John Doe probe pending in the state court system.
Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal first reported that Walker was in settlement talks with special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to end the Doe probe -- thus wiping a thorny issue off the books in his close race with Burke.
The Club for Growth feared that a settlement would prohibit any contact between the group and the Walker camp. It alleged that such limits would violate Randa's original order.
(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)