And no surprise, the prosecutor refuses to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the prosecutor.
Welcome to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Wisconsin Democratic Prosecutors:
The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.
That’s what George Will calls The nastiest political tactic this year.
Will was describing how dozens of conservative activists were targeted by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm in connection with the John Doe (No.2) investigation of supposed campaign law violations. That would be the same John Chisholm whose wife is a school union representative and who, according to a whistleblower, drove the investigation out of fury over Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reform bill.
John Doe No. 2 relates to Walker’s recall campaign, in which he defeated a national union effort to oust him, and whether there was illegal coordination with the conservatives who were targeted in the raid.
A state court judge already has ruled that even if there was such coordination, it was not illegal. A federal District Court ruled the same way, but was reversed by the federal appeals court primarily on procedural grounds as to whether a federal court should interfere in a state investigation.
The federal case may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in what could be another blockbuster campaign regulation case on the scale of Citizens United, if the court takes the case.
In a second federal case brought by a different conservative group, the same District Judge ordered Wisconsin not to enforce its coordination law as relates to issue advocacy. We’ll see if that holds up on appeal.
More from Will’s column, calling John Doe No. 2 the “nastiest episode” of this political season:
Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility….
Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm. He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks….
But Chisholm’s aim — to have a chilling effect on conservative speech — has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.
More details on how Chisholm worked the investigation and silenced conservative speech in my prior post, Exposed: How Prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives.
Why do I call it the Soviet Socialist Republic? It’s not because of the political beliefs of Chisholm and his wife, but the tactic used of finding the man (Scott Walker), then trying to find the crime:
“Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”
Meanwhile, some of the targets requested that Chisholm appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Chisholm’s conduct. Chisholm refuses to do so, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has sharply denied a request from a potential target of an investigation that Chisholm himself be investigated.
Instead, Chisholm recommends against any investigation while leaving the final decision to Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers.
Last month, Eric O’Keefe, a conservative activist and director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, asked that Chisholm appoint a special prosecutor to look into Chisholm’s secret probe of alleged campaign finance allegations during the 2011 and 2012 recall campaigns. Specifically, Chisholm was looking at whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign had improperly coordinated with outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth.
In the complaint and separate civil litigation, O’Keefe has alleged Chisholm, a Democrat, had committed misconduct in office by conducting a political vendetta against conservatives.
In a 10-page Oct. 8 letter to Kremers, Chisholm dismissed O’Keefe’s allegation that Chisholm pursued inquiries into Walker and Republicans because Chisholm’s wife is a teacher and union member and the district attorney was angry about Walker’s repeal of most collective bargaining for public employees.
Chisholm doesn’t get it. A special prosecutor is needed precisely because Chisholm is legally incapable of making such determinations because of the inherent conflict of interest.
Curiously, not a single other prosecutor in the State of Wisconsin will investigate Chisholm:
Nearly 50 elected district attorneys from around Wisconsin have declined a request by a conservative group to investigate the Milwaukee County prosecutor behind a secret probe into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and his allies.
Citing a conflict of interest, Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg, a Republican, turned down the investigation request by conservative activist Chris Kliesmet, a member of Citizens for Responsible Government, a group that has supported Walker.
After denying Kliesmet’s request for a secret probe into the conduct of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, Klomberg then asked 49 other district attorneys around the state whether they would be able to take on the case. One didn’t answer and the 48 others declined to investigate Chisholm, citing conflicts of interest or a lack of resources. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, also declined to take the case because of a conflict of interest, Klomberg wrote Wednesday to Kliesmet.
Unable to find a district attorney anywhere in southern Wisconsin to take the case, Klomberg instead on Wednesday asked Dodge County Clerk of Courts Lynn Hron to assign the request to a judge in the county who can then decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor in the case. An aide to Circuit Court Judge Steven Bauer, who received the case, said Thursday he never comments on his cases.
This is not all theoretical, it is a key component of the Democratic attempt to oust Walker in this year’s regular election, having failed in the recall, as Will points out:
Would the race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke be as close as it is if a process susceptible to abuse had not been so flagrantly abused to silence groups on one side of Wisconsin’s debate? Surely not….
Because of Chisholm’s recklessness, the candidate he is trying to elect, Burke, can only win a tainted victory, and if she wins she will govern with a taint of illegitimacy. No known evidence demonstrates any complicity in Chisholm’s scheme, but in a smarmy new ad she exploits his manufactured atmosphere of synthetic scandal in a manner best described as McCarthyite. Indeed, one probable purpose of Chisholm’s antics was to generate content for anti-Walker ads.
Mary Burke has used the false allegations from the John Doe investigation in her advertising.
It always has been about damaging Walker and removing him from office. And worse still, it’s part of a broader national campaign to silence conservative speechDONATE
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