Gov. Scott Walker used almost $10,000 of his controversial legal defense fund to pay a public relations bill, according to a quarterly report filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
According to the report, the Scott Walker Trust paid $9,988 for "public relations" on May 15 to Chicago-based APCO Worldwide Inc.
"This doesn't seem to square with what the governor said he needed that money for," said Mike McCabe, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the election watchdog organization that first reported the filing. "He said over and over, he just needed to pay lawyers to help him with the investigation."
Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said the agency cannot comment on specific expenditures and referred to state law, which says political candidates or officials "investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation" can create a defense fund "for expenditures supporting or defending the candidate."
Said Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson, "APCO Worldwide provided assistance on legal and media issues. The fund is in accordance with the Government Accountability Board's requirements."
The governor set up the fund in March to pay legal bills in connection with the ongoing John Doe probe, which is looking into the actions of several former and current Walker staffers. Walker has spent $155,489 of the $160,000 transferred to it as of June 30.
The John Doe has resulted in six people being charged with crimes including conducting political campaign work on public time and embezzling money from veterans groups.
McCabe said the report also shows the fund paid $115,000 to Sidley Austin LLP, a Chicago law firm where Walker has reportedly retained the services of criminal defense attorney John Gallo. The fund also paid $29,200 to Milwaukee attorney Michael Steinle and his law firm, Terschan & Steinle Ltd., and $1,301 to Lind Weininger LLC, a Madison law firm.