Impact of John Doe emails may not be known for months - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Impact of John Doe emails may not be known for months

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MADISON (WKOW) -- There are no new significant revelations from the John Doe emails since what 27 News reported Wednesday, but many questions linger, including what the emails could mean for Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) both legally and politically.

With certain documents suggesting Governor Walker knew about the secret email system in his Milwaukee County Executive's Office and others showing he had his campaign staff ask his county staff to do some work for them, many 27 News viewers are asking if that means Walker may face criminal or state ethics penalties.

"Short answer - its not gonna happen," said UW-Madison political expert Ken Mayer.

Mayer says if the Governor was going to face punishment over the contents of those emails, it would have already happened.

 "The fallout is political," said Mayer, who believes the first real test of that will be in this year's gubernatorial race against Democrat Mary Burke.

"It's easy to see the contours of, say, campaign ads that Mary Burke will probably run in the spring and over the summer that could make a difference to people who are on the fence, people who are not paying a lot of attention to politics right now," said Mayer.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says he can't see anything in the emails that would greatly harm the Governor.

"It reminded me more of what people would do in high school.  So perhaps people might be embarrassed by what's in the emails, but I don't think any wrongdoing was done from what I read," said Rep. Vos.

But Mayer says it's those embarrassing emails, such as the racist/homophobic joke sent by Walker's former chief of staff Tom Nardelli, that could prove more costly in the court of public perception.  And Mayer says that could be particularly important if the Governor wins reelection and decides to run for President in 2016.

"If people form an impression of Walker, who haven't heard about him before, based on this and that takes root, that can become difficult to change," said Mayer.

Mayer thinks the second John Doe investigation into Walker's 2012 recall campaign could prove to be more problematic for the Governor than the release of these emails, especially if details come to light closer to election day in November.
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