For IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 21, 2012
REP. GARY HEBL: 608-266-7678
Reps. Richards and Hebl Propose Legal Defense Fund Transparency Act
Legislative action is needed as Gov. Walker
continues to refuse to disclose details regarding his legal defense fund
MADISON – State Representatives Jon Richards and Gary Hebl are drafting legislation to require increased transparency for political legal defense funds in Wisconsin. Their proposal is in response to Gov. Walker’s unbending refusal to make public the details surrounding his creation of a legal defense fund, to which he transferred $60,000 from his campaign account in April. Gov. Walker created the fund in response to the ongoing John Doe criminal investigation into his time as Milwaukee County Executive.
“Wisconsin has a proud tradition of open government,” said Rep. Richards. “Unfortunately, Gov. Walker and his administration have continuously undermined this tradition since taking office. The fact that a sitting governor has created a criminal defense fund because his previous office is under criminal investigation is troubling enough. What is even more troubling is that Gov. Walker refuses to tell the public who is paying for his legal bills and who is receiving money from his legal defense fund.”
Wisconsin law allows political officials to create a criminal defense fund only if they are under investigation, their campaign is under investigation or agents of their campaign are under investigation for violations of state ethics or campaign finance laws.
“We need to begin restoring Wisconsinites’ faith in their political system,” stated Rep. Hebl. “Gov. Walker’s time in office has been marked by unprecedented secrecy and outright hostility toward Wisconsin’s commitment to transparency. This legislation will help provide the public with much-needed information regarding public officials who raise legal defense fund money from third parties.”
The Legal Defense Fund Transparency Act will contain stricter disclosure requirements for donations to and expenditures from legal defense funds than are provided for under current law. The provisions will include:
· Any official who transfers money from a campaign account to a legal defense fund must disclose which donor or donors consented to have their donation transferred to the defense fund and the amount authorized by the donor within seven days of making the transfer.
· Any official who receives a direct donation to a defense fund must release the name of the donor and the amount of the donation within seven days of receiving the donation.
· Any expenditure from the defense fund to pay for legal bills for the official who created the fund or for the legal bills of the official’s agent must be disclosed within seven days.