What does Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have to say about this week’s revelations, stemming from the release of documents unsealed in the case of a convicted former aide? So far, not a whole lot.
His spokesperson told reporters yesterday that the governor hasn’t scheduled any media availability to answer questions about this or any other subject. In fact, Walker is actually leaving town – the Wisconsin Republican is headed to D.C. for a National Governors Association event. He’ll return on Monday, five days after the release of the materials.
The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state’s largest newspaper, doesn’t see this as a sustainable position, arguing that Walker “must” answer questions.
Gov. Scott Walker needs to talk. He should hold a news conference to explain how much he knew about a secret email system as Milwaukee County executive. And he needs to let reporters ask as many questions as they want.Why wouldn’t the governor want to clear up questions raised by the release Wednesday of 27,000 pages of emails related to a John Doe investigation into links between his county government staff and his gubernatorial campaign staff in 2010? […]The longer he dodges questions, the more he undercuts his reputation as a straight-shooter. There are questions that need answering that only the governor can answer. The people of Wisconsin deserve those answers.
At least for now, Walker doesn’t seem to agree.
It’s worth noting that at least part of the defense presented by Walker’s allies has merit: the revelations aren’t just several years old, they’re also revelations that were considered, reviewed, and scrutinized by law enforcement years ago. If officials intended to charge the governor with a crime, they already had that choice and intended not to pursue it.
While there are other former and current Republican governors whose scandals are just now unfolding in earnest, with investigators still digging and unpredictable legal outcomes on the horizon, Walker is in a very different place in Wisconsin – those conducting the probe wrapped up their work quite a while ago. Six Walker aides and allies faced criminal charges; Walker didn’t.
That said, there are still questions about propriety and honesty that deserve answers, outside the confines of a completed criminal inquiry. The governor appears unlikely to ever face charges in this matter, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear as a political matter – Walker’s credibility and judgment have been called into question by this week’s revelations, so dodging media inquiries indefinitely is not a sustainable strategy.
In theory, with Walker headed to Washington, the governor could face press from the national political media, but it appears some of the Beltway has already decided not to care about the Wisconsin controversy.