MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Republican Governors Association said Tuesday that Democrat Mary Burke’s comments criticizing Gov. Scott Walker on the issue of campaigning while on state time can’t be taken seriously because an adviser on her staff was convicted of illegal campaign work.
Burke is challenging Walker this year as he runs for re-election.
On Monday, Burke said Walker set a “low bar for campaign ethics and as governor” in reaction to the release of 28,000 pages of documents in an investigation into illegal campaign work by former aides and associates when he was Milwaukee County executive.
RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said that Burke’s attacks aren’t valid because her campaign employs someone who was convicted of illegally soliciting campaign donations on state time.
Tanya Bjork works as Burke’s political adviser. She pleaded no contest in 2005 to misdemeanor counts of fraudulently entering computer data and illegally soliciting campaign donations on state property while working for former Democratic state Sen. Brian Burke, of Milwaukee.
After her convictions Burke went on to work for then-Gov. Jim Doyle as his national liaison and as a senior adviser for President Barack Obama’s Wisconsin campaigns in both 2008 and 2012.
“Before Mary Burke preaches about ethical standards, she needs to take a good long look in the mirror,” Thompson said.
Burke’s campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki said the criticism was “nothing more than a desperate attempt by Scott Walker and his allies to distract” from attention brought to Walker from the document release last week.
Democratic critics of Walker have been calling on him to explain how he did not know that workers in his county office were doing campaign work on state time, especially given emails that show him discussing campaign issues with them during regular business hours.
Walker has repeatedly said he didn’t know about any illegal activity. He was not charged as a part of the investigation, which closed last year.