Campaign staff the focus in race for Wisconsin governor

Mary Burke (D), left, and Scott Walker (R)
Mary Burke (D), left, and Scott Walker (R)

MILWAUKEE - The early stages of the 2014 gubernatorial race seem to be more about the campaign workers then the candidates.

For the past week, Wisconsin political observers have been focused on emails sent by Scott Walker's staff when he was Milwaukee County Executive. Now, the Republican governor is raising questions about potential Democratic challenger Mary Burke's campaign staff.

The 27,000 emails released as part of a John Doe investigation into Walker's county staff have made ethics an issue in the 2014 campaign for governor. This week in Appleton, Burke weighed in.

"I'm just disappointed that our governor set such a low bar for campaign ethics," said Burke.

Governor Walker said in response, "It's an interesting statement for a campaign who actually has someone on their staff right now who has been involved in things like that in the past."

The governor is referring to Tanya Bjork, an adviser to Burke's campaign. More than 10 years ago, Bjork was convicted of two misdemeanors related to illegal campaign activity: soliciting campaign donations inside the state capitol, and altering official calendars to make them seem as if time spent soliciting donations was actually spent with constituents.

The governor asked, "How can someone make a suggestion like that when, arguably, they knowingly accepted someone who fits the very category they're criticizing?"

Burke's campaign says the John Doe scandal, which led to felony convictions of six of Walker's aides or associates, can't be equated to the actions of a single person whose offenses happened years ago.

"I think people have lost their confidence in politicians just because of things like this. I want to restore trust and honesty from the Wisconsin people," said Burke.

Governor Walker says the Burke campaign is focusing on the John Doe emails as a way to distract from his record of reforms.