Impact of 'John Doe' investigation on governor's race

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shakes hands with supporters after a campaign rally at Dane Manufacturing in Dane, Wis., Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Walker officially launched his re-election campaign Tuesday with a series of rallies across Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King)

GREEN BAY – Gov. Scott Walker says the secret investigation into his recall campaign is not a campaign distraction.

Last month, a federal judge put the secret inquiry into 2011 and 2012 recall campaign fundraising and spending on hold, saying it violated free speech rights.

But it is still expected to be a discussion on the campaign trail. Monday was the deadline for candidates to file the required amount of signatures to get on the ballot.

At a campaign stop in Brown County Sunday, Governor Scott Walker downplayed the so-called “John Doe” investigation's effect on his re-election bid.

"Is that distracting to you as you're going forward with your campaign?" asked FOX 11’s Bill Miston.

"No,” replied Walker, “Interestingly enough, other than the media, I don't hear about it from anybody else."

Reports of a possible settlement between Walker and investigators surfaced last week.

Professor: Secrecy of investigation leaves number of unknowns

"Right now it's just so gray," said David Helpap about the details of the probe.

Helpap – a UW-Green Bay political science professor – says he expects Walker and his allies to downplay the probe on the campaign trail, if it even comes up.

"This is something that has no impact on the state, on the governor. Nothing has been concluded - so why should this matter?" posited Helpap of likely Walker campaign talking points on the matter.

An advantage for Walker's opponents, Helpap says is the governor cannot discuss the investigation.

"If you are someone running against the governor, you're saying, ‘Do we want a governor in office that is the subject of this type of an investigation?’"

FOX 11’s Bill Miston asked Walker's likely Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, about the investigation, if it could be a distraction used to her favor.

"I'm not a lawyer, so I can't speak to the investigation,” said Burke, who was at the same campaign stop as Gov. Walker Sunday. “But it certainly – you'd think about whether these discussions between Governor Walker and prosecutors – why would he be thinking about settling, if there wasn't anything to settle for?"

Helpap says if the investigation goes forward and Walker and special interest groups are implicated in electoral wrongdoing, it could have national effects.