We have extensively covered the Wisconsin John Doe investigations.

The extremely abbreviated version is that Milwaukee County prosecutor John Chisholm has led two distinct investigations of conservatives in Wisconsin. John Doe No. 1 targeted Scott Walker’s term as Milwaukee County Executive. That case is over, and no wrongdoing by Walker was uncovered.

John Doe No. 2 involved allegations that a wide range of Wisconsin conservatives engaged in illegal coordination with Walker in the Recall Election, which Walker won.

John Doe No. 2 has resulted in federal and state litigation, with conservative individuals and groups asserting that the wide-ranging seizure of records violated their constitutional righs.

Currently, the probe effectively is shut down by a state court judge’s ruling refusing to issue any more search warrants, and a federal court’s decision that Wisconsin could not apply the state campaign laws so as to prohibit issue coordination.  A separate federal case on that legal point may be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now some more information, via M.D. Kittle at Wisconsin Reporter, who has been the leading reporter covering the various John Doe proceedings and cases, regarding yet another lawsuit, against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

Rogue agency defied judges to carry out partisan probe of Wisconsin conservatives:

Agents for the embattled state Government Accountability Board continued a zealous campaign finance investigation into dozens of conservative groups even after judges who preside over the board voted to shut it down, according to a previously sealed brief made public Friday.

The documents, from an updated complaint filed by conservative plaintiffs in a case against the GAB, appear to support claims that the campaign finance, ethics and election law regulator is a rogue agency. They also show that the GAB considered using the state’s John Doe law to investigate key state conservatives and even national figures, including Fox News’ Sean Hannity and WTMJ Milwaukee host Charlie Sykes.

Wisconsin Reporter also obtained some of its information from previous court documents that were supposed to have been redacted.

“What we have uncovered so far shows the Government Accountability Board, or at least its staff, being anything but ‘accountable,’” said Eddie Greim, attorney for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the GAB. “For example, the public has learned for the first time, over GAB’s objections, that GAB set up a secret system of Gmail accounts for its staffers and the prosecutors who ran the John Doe. We also know that GAB hoped its ‘illegal coordination’ theory could even extend to allow it to subpoena media figures like Charlie Sykes and Sean Hannity.”

Here is the relevant paragraph from the First Amended Complaint (via Wisconsin Reporter)(emphasis added):

75. The search warrants and subpoenas extended to targets throughout Wisconsin. In addition to the subpoenas received by Mr. O’Keefe and the Club, it has since been publicly revealed that R.J. Johnson, Kate Doner, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Friends of Scott Walker, and Governor Scott Walker were also subjects of search warrants or subpoenas. These identities were revealed during a Federal Civil Rights Action that challenged the constitutionality of Doe proceeding. See O’Keefe, et al. v. Schmitz et al., Case No. 2:14-cv-00139 (E.D. Wis. Feb. 10, 2014). Many more warrants and subpoenas were planned for other targets throughout the country, including media figures such as Charlie Sykes and Sean Hannity. See Investigation Planning – Meeting Notes, Ex. F at 7; see also Investigation Status Update – Meeting Notes, Ex. L at 8.

Unfortunately for us, Exhibit L was filed under seal, we can’t confirm the text independently.

None of this would be surprising.  As I have noted before, the John Doe investigations identified people (primarily Scott Walker) and then searched for crimes.

That conservative media almost was targeted also is not surprising.

A cynical view would say that stifling conservative media was necessary in order to make the stifling of conservative activists complete, to isolate them from their base of support:

“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

A less cynical view would believe that the moon is made of cream cheese, and the tooth fairy exists.

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O'Keefe v Wisconsin GAB – First Amended Complaint