File new suit in state court, as Gov. Scott Walker avoids issue of prior controversial settlement talks
UPDATES: Scott Walker: No way I’m throwing fellow conservatives under bus in “John Doe” probe.
Also, late this afternoon a Judge practically laughed at the investigators’ request for “clarification” of the injunction:
“The order of this Court and that of the Seventh Circuit offers clear guidance as to the parameters of the injunction,” the federal judge said. “In the absence of any further information regarding the content and import of ‘discussions’ that may violate the Court’s clear directives, it is impossible for the Court to offer further clarification at this time.”
A legal expert close to the John Doe proceedings said Randa is saying that Schmitz knows precisely what he can and cannot do.
“Judge Randa is saying, ‘Look, guy, you know what this means and if you’re skulking around trying to do something you know you are not supposed to be doing you are risking contempt,’” said the source, who did not want to be identified due to his proximity to the John Doe proceedings. “And contempt is really a serious thing, especially against a prosecutor.”
The last time we wrote about the abusive “John Doe” investigation of conservative activists in Wisconsin, we were wondering whether Gov. Scott Walker would try to cut a prejudicial side deal with the investigators to have the probe dropped in exchange for some concessions including shutting out some key political activists, Dear Scott Walker: Don’t sell out conservative victims of “John Doe” abuses.
Two developments directly related to the settlement.
First, Walker issued what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel termed a “carefully worded” statement on the settlement controversy:
The statement by Friends of Scott Walker was attributed simply to the campaign and not to any individual and appeared to deal only with the federal lawsuit, not the state investigation in which both the Club for Growth and Walker’s campaign are targets.
“Neither Governor Walker nor his campaign committee are parties to the federal lawsuit. This means they have no legal standing to reach a settlement or deal in their lawsuit,” the statement reads in full.
A spokeswoman for Walker did not respond to questions clarifying the statement.
That is technically true, but doesn’t address whether a deal was being cut between Walker and the investigators on the probe itself.
The issue, according to the lawyer for the plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, was that through the settlement, the investigators were trying to coerce a punishment forbidden by the court’s preliminary injunction, as reported by The Wisconsin State Journal:
Thursday’s filing by David Rivkin, the attorney for O’Keefe and the group, was the latest twist in a complex legal battle over the investigation into Walker and conservative groups. In the filing, Rivkin said it appeared Schmitz was trying to “use the coercive power of the state to cut side-deals” that would violate his clients’ rights.
(added) The motion by the investigators to clarify the injunction and the response by plaintiffs are embedded at the bottom of this post. There is a fascinating exchange of letters between the lawyers, in which the plaintiff’s lawyers allege the investigators are in violation of the preliminary injunction, to which the motion was directed. The plaintiffs’ counsel responded in the court filing:
On the heels of news reports suggesting that Defendant Francis Schmitz is seeking to enter into a settlement that would impair Plaintiffs’ rights by forcing their associates to choose whether to work with Plaintiffs or Friends of Scott Walker, Schmitz has discontinued discussions with Plaintiffs and run to this Court to seek an advisory opinion that would frustrate the Court’s preliminary injunction. While Schmitz’s motion is vague, it appears that he wants the Court to moot its injunction by allowing him to attempt to enforce subpoenas in Wisconsin state court and to use the coercive
power of the state to cut side-deals that impair Plaintiffs’ associational rights. Enough is enough. The Court should confirm that its injunction precludes any attempt by Defendants to obtain compliance with any order, subpoena, or other process issued in furtherance of the investigation….
Second, a new lawsuit has been filed, this time in state court against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, as reported by Wisconsin Watchdog:
The targets of a politically charged John Doe investigation are now targeting the state’s Government Accountability Board, alleging in a lawsuit the agency that oversees election and campaign finance law has created a “Frankenstein monster” out of its enforcement authority.
The GAB has “exceeded its statutory authority and evaded its statutory obligations by pursuing and funding a far-reaching criminal investigation into virtually every conservative-leaning group in Wisconsin,” according to the lawsuit, filed Friday morning in Waukesha County Circuit Court by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, and on “behalf of others similarly situated.”….
In that complaint, O’Keefe argues that the prosecutors violated his First Amendment rights via an investigation that, sources say, involved pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style” raids on the homes of conservative targets.
And it was all done with the backing of the Government Accountability Board, using powers not ascribed to the board, O’Keefe’s lawsuit alleges.
We’ll add a copy of that complaint as soon as we get it. (Update, Complaint added at bottom of post)DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.