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Wisconsin governor has legal defense fund

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MILWAUKEE, March 9 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Friday he has set up a fund for expenses from an investigation of activities related to his time as Milwaukee County executive.

The Republican governor released a statement saying he would use the defense fund to help pay two criminal defense lawyers "to review documents and assist me in cooperating" with the so-called John Doe secret probe, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

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Ciara Matthews, Walker's spokeswoman, insisted the creation of the fund is not an indication the governor is under investigation for violations of state election law.

"We reiterate that Gov. Walker has been told that he is not a target of this investigation," Matthews said.

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George Dunst, a retired state election lawyer, though, told the newspaper the move implies otherwise.

"If you create a legal defense fund, you are either being investigated, being charged with or have been convicted of a criminal violation of Chapter 11 or Chapter 12," Dunst said.

"For nearly two years, Milwaukee County officials have been examining issues related to former employees of the County," Walker said in a statement. "I have repeatedly pledged my cooperation with that inquiry. I also made it clear that no public money has been used, or will be used, to pay for the attorneys needed to review documents and assist me in cooperating."

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The John Doe investigation by Milwaukee County prosecutors has resulted in charges being brought against four former Walker employees and political appointees.

Darlene Wink, a county employee when Walker was Milwaukee County executive, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of using public resources to raise funds for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. A former Walker deputy chief of staff, Kelly Rindfleisch, has been charged with four felony counts of misconduct in public office.

Kevin Kavanaugh, appointed by Walker to the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Commission, and a former Walker deputy chief of staff, Timothy D. Russell, have both been charged with embezzling more than $60,000 from a fund intended to benefit veterans, the Journal Sentinel reported.

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Walker, who faces a recall election, said Feb. 3 he has hired defense counsel but reiterated he has done nothing wrong.

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