Ex-Walker aides fired fuels WI Dems to refile ethics complaint

Published On: Jan 06 2012 07:37:08 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 06 2012 10:08:34 PM CST

STODDARD Wis.--Gov. Scott Walker is in the controversial spotlight again, but not for the looming potential of a recall election. This time it's the arrests of some of his former aids.

Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh worked for Walker during his time as Milwaukee County Executive.

Both have now been arrested for taking money donated to groups that were supposed to help veterans and their families. Now, the Wisconsin Democratic Party is looking for answers.

Two of Governor Scott Walker's former aides now face felony charges for stealing money from groups that help veterans and their families.

"For us we've had a long-standing tradition long before I was governor, of doing events that help veterans that help military families and help military personnel," said Gov. Walker. "So, just personally I was very disappointed."

Tim Russell is accused of taking at least $21,000 from the Heritage Guard Preservation Society while working as an aide to then Milwaukee county executive, Scott Walker.

Kevin Kavanaugh allegedly stole at least $42,000 from the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Friday, Walker was in Stoddard where he expressed his concern.

"At the time we didn't know the depth to which it involved multiple individuals, but we were concerned at the time that that particular veteran’s organization couldn't account for where their funding was at after repeated attempts to get access to their financial records," said Walker.

Walker said he heard money was missing and contacted the district attorney's office to investigate. It's an explanation the Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Mike Tate doesn't buy.

"That's a little bit like the arsonist setting a fire and then calling the fire department," said Tate.

The party initially filed an ethics complaint last year accusing Walker of using county money for a state wide tour to promote himself.

Friday, the party filed the complaint again in light of the arrests and new information the party says links Russel to purchasing websites promoting the governor's campaign.

"We're talking potentially thousands of dollars in value that a corporation provided the Walker campaign we believe illegally," said Tate.

And with a recall election likely in the coming months, both the governor and the Democratic Party hope the facts lead to the truth.

If convicted, Russell and Kavanaugh could each face up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

A third person arrested during this investigation. Brian Pierick, Russell's long-time domestic partner was fired Thursday from the state Department of Public Instruction.

He was arrested for child enticement after trying to get a 17-year old boy to have sex in his car.