Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in the middle of a contentious recall fight, which has made headlines around the country.

But one story that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the ongoing criminal investigation involving a number of Scott Walker’s former staff members. The investigation is centered on Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee’s county executive. So far, a half dozen of Walker’s former staffers have been charged with various crimes related to the mishandling of funds.

Walker has mostly remained above the fray. But Friday, Walker announced that he’s started a legal defense fund.

A spokesman for Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the governor has been told “he is not a target of this investigation.”

But the paper’s watchdog columnist, Daniel Bice, reports that there are very clear restrictions on when elected officials are allowed to create legal defense funds.

From Bice’s column:

“The only way you can set that up is if you are under investigation or being prosecuted,” said Michael Maistelman, an election lawyer who is representing former Walker aide Tim Russell in the John Doe investigation. “One can only draw the conclusion that either one of those two things is happening.”

The prosecutor in the case is, not surprisingly, not commenting. But Bice says investigators have been looking into possible election law violations for 22 months. One former Walker staffer has already pleaded guilty. Another one was due in court today on embezzlement charges, but couldn’t make it because of an illness.

Walker is expected to meet with investigators later this month.


Mixed bag of jobs news: In Toledo, a company that makes solar panels is laying off 40 workers. The Chicago Tribune is starting a round of newsroom buyouts. But, in Canton, Mich., a TV manufacturer plans to hire 100 workers. The Detroit Free Press says it will be the first time a company has built TVs in the U.S. since Sony closed its last plant here in 2010.

More tourism, fewer movies: The mixed news theme continues in Michigan with a pair of stories about the state’s effort to lure out-of state business. First, the Detroit Free Press reports that interest in the Michigan’s film tax incentives dropped after the state revamped the program last year. But, partner station Michigan Radio reports the state’s tourism ad campaign seems to be paying off. In 2010, out-of-state visitors spent more tourism dollars in Michigan than in-state residents. It was the first time that’s ever been recorded.

Fracking fallout: Officials in Mansfield, Ohio are threatening to block construction of two new waste wells in their city. The wells would store waste products from “fracking,” a controversial method of drilling for natural gas. The concern is these waste wells may have contributed to a series of small earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio. Meanwhile, TV station WKBN reports a hearing on those earthquakes will be held today at Youngstown State University. WKBN will stream the hearing live on its website starting at 10 a.m. ET.

A truckload of signatures: Later today, a truck is expected to make a delivery to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Democrats are loading the truck with 3,000 lbs. worth of documents, containing up to one million signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans. Walker’s office says the effort will cost taxpayers $9 million. Needless to say, this probably won’t be the last you hear of it.