Citizens for Responsible Government Advocacy seeks injunction against prosecution for coordinated issue advocacy.
We reported last night on a demand by one of the targets of the Wisconsin John Doe investigation for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the John Doe prosecutors, particularly John Chisholm, WI “John Doe” target seeks criminal investigation of prosecutors
Also last night, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a new lawsuit on behalf of a conservative group has been filed alleging that the John Doe prosecutors violated conservative groups’ rights:
As a sixth lawsuit was filed Thursday connected to an investigation of Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative allies, the leader of one group being probed took to the airwaves to accuse Milwaukee’s district attorney and state election officials of engaging in “domestic spying.”
“We have in Wisconsin a taxpayer-funded domestic spying operation of over three years’ duration conducted by the Milwaukee County DA, John Chisholm, and now in concert with Kevin Kennedy at the Government Accountability Board, which is corrupt and so is Kennedy,” said Eric O’Keefe, one of the directors of the Wisconsin Club for Growth.
O’Keefe spoke to WISN-AM (1130) host Vicki McKenna. His comments came as a Milwaukee County group sued Chisholm, Kennedy and the members of the accountability board, arguing it has a constitutional right to collaborate with candidates — raising issues at the heart of the legal battle over whether Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations have illegally worked together.
Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates has not been involved in the investigation connected to Walker. But the group has been a longtime Walker ally, and its lawsuit addresses what has been raised in the investigation into his campaign’s activities. The lawsuit is being funded by a group affiliated with O’Keefe using lawyers who have represented O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth.
The Complaint in the new case now is available on PACER, and is embedded in full below.
The heart of the suit is that CRG wants to engage in conservative issue advocacy in coordination with others, including state political candidates, but under the interpretations put forth by the Government Accountability Board and Chisholm, such coordination would be illegal.
CRG seeks a court declaration that GAB and Chisholm are wrong, and that CRG’s proposed conduct would be lawful and would not subject it to criminal investigation by Chisholm, as has happened to other conservative groups.
For protection, CRG seeks an injunction against enforcement of the statutes as interpreted by Chisholm and others.
Here are some key paragraphs from the Complaint:
29. GAB and Chisholm maintain that the term “for political purposes” reaches issue advocacy if it is made or incurred under the authorization, direction or control of or otherwise by prearrangement with a candidate or a candidate’s agent.
30. On June 20, 2013, GAB formally authorized a statewide campaign-finance investigation predicated on the interpretation of Wisconsin law that issue advocacy is subject to regulation when coordinated with a political candidate: “Any individual or organization, including a corporation, may make an independent disbursement or purchase an issue ad. Coordination with a candidate or candidate committee transforms such purportedly independent disbursements and even true ‘issue ads’ into in-kind or monetary contributions to a candidate.” GAB’s resolution stated that such coordination may violate the contribution limits and bans, as well as the reporting requirements, of Wisconsin law.
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35. In GAB’s view, coordination of issue advocacy with a political candidate may result in various violations of Chapter 11, resulting in a concrete threat of civil or criminal enforcement against a person who collaborates with a candidate or office-holder concerning issue advocacy.
The Prayer for Relied seeks to declare portions of the Wisconsin campaign finance laws unconstitutional, and seeks injunctive relief against their enforcement:
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
Wherefore, Plaintiff CRF respectfully requests that this Court enter judgment against the Defendants, including:
a) An order declaring that the definition of “political purposes” found in Wisconsin Statutes § 11.01(16) is facially unconstitutional and unconstitutionally vague, or adopting a limiting construction of that definition that excludes issue advocacy, whether or not coordinated with a political candidate;
b) An order declaring that the restrictions of Wisconsin Statutes §§ 11.05, 11.06, 11.10(4) 11.12, 11.14, 11.16, 11.23, 11.24, 11.26, 11.27, 11.30, 11.36, 11.38, 11.60, 11.61, and 11.66 are facially unconstitutional and unconstitutionally vague, or adopting a limiting construction of those provisions that excludes issue advocacy, whether or not coordinated with a political candidate;
c) An order declaring Wisconsin Statutes § 11.01(16), as applied through the restrictive provisions of Chapter 11, unconstitutional as applied to CRG’s intended coordinated issue advocacy;
d) Preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Defendants, their agents, officers, employees, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them from implementing, enforcing, or giving any effect to the provisions of Chapter 11 as applied to issue advocacy, whether or not coordinated with a political candidate;
e) Costs and attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 or any applicable statute or authority;
f) Such other relief as this Court determines is just and proper.
This new lawsuit appears to be part of a more aggressive posture by Wisconsin conservatives, who have been on the receiving end of multiple John Doe proceedings and subpoenas.DONATE
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