Democrats call for Walker to pay for security expenses

By Channel 12 WISN-TV

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats on Wednesday renewed their call for Gov. Scott Walker to follow through on a promise to reimburse taxpayers for travel costs incurred by his state-funded security detail now that his run for president is over.

Walker quit the campaign abruptly Monday as financial support dried up. During the campaign, Walker pledged to reimburse the travel costs associated with his security detail. Those State Patrol officers are with the governor around the clock, but critics said it wasn't right for taxpayers to pay for their travel costs as Walker campaigned for president around the country.

Two Democratic lawmakers said Walker should immediately pay the security detail's travel costs. They cited media reports quoting Walker's former campaign manager Rick Wiley as saying that the campaign has expenses as large as $800,000, with $1 million cash on hand.

It was unclear whether the campaign had paid back all the costs.

Our American Revival, a political committee Walker formed in January before he officially became a candidate, made two payments to the state, according to an IRS filing. It shows the committee paid the state $33,427 on June 25 for security services and $5,829 on May 26 for use of a state vehicle.

Walker's presidential campaign committee, which formed in July, is not required to submit any reports showing payments made until Oct. 15.

Emails to Walker's presidential campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski bounced back. She did not immediately respond to a message sent to her personal email account. Her cellphone's voicemail box was full.

There was also no word from the state on whether any payment from the campaign had come in.

Cullen Werwie, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, which would receive the money, said Wednesday he was checking to see if anything had been submitted and would respond when he had information.

Security costs for Walker, his wife Tonette and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in 2014 - the year Walker successfully ran for re-election as governor - were $2.3 million. That is more than three times what it cost to protect his Democratic predecessor in 2010.

Democrats intensified criticism of the costs when Walker began traveling extensively as he explored a presidential run earlier this year. In April, Walker's Our American Revival promised to reimburse travel costs for his security detail.

Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen, of Green Bay, and Rep. Katrina Shankland, of Stevens Point, said Wednesday that Walker should never have relied on taxpayer money to pay for travel costs of his security detail while he was running for president.

"Before they pay another nickel to a consultant, vendor, pollster or anything else campaign-related, the governor needs to do his duty and pay what he owes to Wisconsin taxpayers," Shankland said in calling for immediate payment.

The two Democrats have introduced a bill that would require any state elected official running for higher office to reimburse the state within 30 days of incurring any campaign-related travel and security expenses on the taxpayer dime.

It's unlikely to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature.