Washington (CNN) - Facing controversy back home over documents from a 2010 investigation, at the National Governors Association in Washington, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has decided the best defense is a good offense.
After initially being criticized by reporters in Wisconsin for not answering questions following Wednesday’s release of the records and e-mails, Walker has kept a high profile during the conference. He has made himself available to reporters several times, sat down with The Washington Post and taken part in a national television interview Sunday morning.
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Walker, a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, dismissed the documents as “old news” in all of his interviews. It’s a talking point he returns to continually, arguing that there is nothing more to learn about a now-closed case investigated by a Democratic prosecutor and heavily reported at the time.
At issue is the investigation into coordination between Walker’s campaign for governor and staff members at his then-Milwaukee County Executive’s Office. Six former aides were convicted in the case. Walker was reportedly never considered a target in the investigation and was not charged.
But the release of documents from the case has raised new questions that could be politically troubling for Walker, and despite his frequent appearances this weekend, the governor has refused to answer some specifics.
The records show that he ordered his staff members to hold a daily conference call with the political campaign. And messages suggested that Walker was linked with a private e-mail system used by the staff members.
Asked by CNN on Sunday whether he regretted ordering the conference call, Walker would not answer. He said only, “those are all details that were reviewed, and we're confident that the district attorney announced last year that they're completed, so for us, I don’t know if there's anything more to talk to in terms of details in that regard.”
Asked about the e-mail system and whether he knew of it, Walker said, “I’m not going to go through every detail, because that would distract from my ability to be an effective governor in the state and be preoccupied with that.
“And the reason I don't feel to go any further is because I don't ask you to rely on me, I ask you to rely on the fact that the district attorney's office...the largest district attorney's in the state of Wisconsin, led by a Democrat, went through each and every one of these communications and talked to other individuals and ultimately decided to close the case last year,” he continued.
Though Walker claims the reports are “old news,” the case continues to generate new headlines in Wisconsin newspapers, including the ones he says have reported this so extensively.
Pressed on that point Sunday, the governor told CNN, “the reason I say it's old news is not so much because of the press but because you had a district attorney in Milwaukee County, a Democrat, who had spent about three years looking at these communications as well as other interviews, and they ultimately went through and looked at the information, obviously issued some charges against individuals.”
Walker added that the investigation began when his County Executive’s Office flagged some concerns to the District Attorney's Office about a different program.
Walker made similar comments in his Sunday morning interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
In response, Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said in a statement, “The fact is, there was illegal activity going on in Scott Walker’s government office on his behalf and, in some cases, at his direction.”
“Just because Scott Walker isn’t behind bars today doesn’t mean he is not guilty of unethical behavior that has broken the public trust,” Czin continued. “While a second investigation into related conduct moves forward, the governor still needs to explain his actions and how such wide-spread illegal activity could happen under his nose.”
It is impossible to escape the politics of the story, given that Walker is up for re-election this year and is the subject of growing speculation about a presidential run.
Walker said of the impact on the playing field, “for 2014 it's pretty clear that the operatives at the DNC and (Democratic Governors Association) would like nothing more to change the subject. I can understand why when, in last year from April through the end of the year, we had the largest private sector job growth in Wisconsin since ‘94 . We took a $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a billion-dollar surplus. I can understand why they want to change the narrative.”
Walker said “as long as people focus on the facts...I think we’ll be fine.”
As for 2016, Walker repeated, “any Republican who's talking about anything other than 2014 is doing a disservice to themselves, to the party and ultimately to their county.”
Walker told CNN he won’t be returning to Washington in March for the closely watched Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was a major speaker last year. He said the “scheduling just doesn't work, but we'll be mainly focused on things in Wisconsin.”
CNN's Brian McBride contributed to this report.
Maybe he should joke about traffic cones.
Those pesky e mails by his staffers on tax payer time is such old news. Only six of his staff are in jail. Maybe he can join Blago, Ryan, Scott, Krispy, Deal, in the joint. The republicans will at least have enough for a prison basketball team.
Old news? Maybe someone should tell Priebus/Paul that.
For Republicans, scandals with evidence are old news, but scandals without evidence are cover-ups.
You could brush off all you want...You're still a dirty Koch puppet!!!
This idiot is as pathetic as pat mcRory of NC. Two need to be removed immediately.
Why isn't tthis guy saying "Good Morning" every day to Blaggo?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a bad joke , he fits in the same mold as King of Cheese Wiz .
Look at his first political ad , then ask yourself if this is the kind of person you would buy a used car from .
Walker wants to be president, but I am not sure we are ready for someone who places so little value on education.
Release those college transcripts, Scott.
Old news to you, Scott, as you've been a lying scoundrel for years... All the way back to your Marquette days. How many aides were convicted? That you "knew nothing" about? If people focus on the facts, rather than the Koch brothers money and misleading ads in the upcoming election, you're toast! ALEC rubber stamp!
Why does he feel he has to keep mentioning the DA is a democrat? That means he is less guilty? Or does it mean the DA didn't do his job because he IS a democrat? Does Scott mean to imply that he got away with something and a democrat let him go?
He looks like the "special" kids we used to protect from the bullies in high school. The exception is that HE is a bully!
This GOP CLOWN will be in jail along side MOST of HIS staff and McDonald and maybe Christi before ANY of them become president, the GOP party of STUPID PROVES it every day!!!!!!
Explaining would distract me,,
They are lies, not facts, your state is 38thvon job growth. But they were going to try to sell it as 7th, same BS Snyder in Michigan is pulling, nothing but lies, the truth is something they just can't win with.
Does he think think avoidance tactic will work in a national debate, he's going nowhere, sad, pathetic bunch of gop governors.