Democratic senators holed up in Illinois to prevent the Senate from voting on a bill to limit collective bargaining for public workers are paying for their own food and lodging and are not accepting donations from labor unions, several of the senators said.

"We all are paying our expenses personally," said Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, on a phone call from someplace in Illinois.

In a prank call from a New York blogger made public Wednesday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker suggested unions were paying the senators' costs and said he was waiting for an opinion from Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen on whether that constituted a crime or an ethics violation.

Justice Department spokesman Bill Cosh declined to comment about any possible investigation. Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney also declined to say whether union contributions could legally be used to pay expenses of the 14 Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois.

But the senators themselves said the question was a moot point. Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said Monday he was using his own money to pay for his expenses. And Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said Wednesday that the group is paying their costs out of pocket, with no taxpayer funds and no campaign contributions involved.

State Journal reporter Dee J. Hall contributed to this report.

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