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Friday, March 9, 2012

 4:04 PM 

State regs on legal defense funds

Under Wisconsin law, public officials are only allowed to create a legal defense fund if they are being investigated for or charged with a violation of campaign finance laws or prohibited election practices.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what justification he used for establishing the fund. He announced previously this year hiring two defense attorneys to help him deal with the probe.

The Government Accountability Board has an overview of the regulations for legal defense funds. According to the document, legal defense funds can only be used for expenditures stemming from an investigation, being charged or a conviction.

Officials cannot solicit direct contributions to their legal defense funds. Instead, they are allowed to transfer contributions from their campaign accounts to the legal defense fund if a donor consents.

Lobbyists cannot contribute, and their past contributions cannot be transferred to the legal defense funds. The official creating a legal defense fund has to file a report with the GAB to identify each person who contributed more than $50 to the legal defense fund during the past year.

UPDATE, 6:05 p.m.: A Walker spokeswoman said the fund was established under the guidance of the GAB but she had no other information on the rationale for establishing it. She reiterated that Walker has been told he's not a target of the John Doe probe.


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