There he goes again, going about his business of slaying another progressive dragon.
The saga of the two John Doe investigations of Walker, his supporters and almost the entire Wisconsin conservative movement has been covered here dozens of times. It was a nasty, vicious investigation (note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July).
An important chapter was turned when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered John Doe No. 2 investigation closed, as a violation of the constitutional protections of free speech and association, Wisconsin Supreme Court stops John Doe investigation against conservatives.
Here is the key finding, which completely shreds both the legal theories and motives of the prosecutors, completely vindicates the targets, and praises those who fought back legally against prosecutorial misconduct (emphasis added):
¶133 Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points. It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a “perfect storm” of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.
The Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate in Wisconsin quickly passed laws to make sure such abuses never took place again, and Walker quickly signed it on Friday, as the Chicago Tribune reports:
Gov. Scott Walker, who has been involved in two secret John Doe investigations, signed a bill Friday doing away with the probes into political misconduct.
The Republican-controlled Legislature this week passed the bill eliminating John Does for any kind of political misconduct, including bribes, theft and campaign finance violations. They could still be used for violent felonies and some drug crimes….
John Does are like a grand jury, but are done before a judge who ultimately decides whether a crime has been committed. Witnesses are under gag orders, and prosecutors can compel people to testify, obtain search warrants and collect evidence in secret.
Republicans have denounced the second John Doe investigation into Walker and his allies as a political witch hunt and maintain that police were too heavy-handed when they executed pre-dawn search warrants.
Christian Schneider writes that the new law, opposed by Democrats, basically conforms the statute to the Supreme Court decision:
In shutting down the John Doe investigation into Walker’s supporters in July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court not only took a brickbat to the secretive Doe process, it also upheld the ability of third party issue groups to coordinate with candidates, as long as those issue groups didn’t engage in “express advocacy.”
Republicans are now codifying that ruling in statute, even though it was patently clear that such third-party groups were never covered under state campaign finance regulations in the first place. Ironically, in the most recent John Doe, prosecutors were relying on outdated laws that had been struck down by courts but were still on the statute books — which I have dubbed “zombie laws.” Actually changing the law to explicitly reflect modern court rulings will lessen such confusion.
At some point, we need to reconsider what the Walker opponents consider to be “good government.” Is it “good government” for Democrats to want to operate contrary to Supreme Court decisions? Is it “good government” for a rogue prosecutor to detain citizens while officers raid their homes looking for evidence? Is it “good government” for damaging details about targets to be leaked when they cannot defend themselves? Is it “good government” to deny citizens their right to take part in politics by contributing to candidates who reflect their viewpoints?
Sadly, if Walker were not the subject of the John Doe investigation, many Democrats would answer “no” to the above questions. But instead, they continue to support a system that has turned the phrase “good government” into an oxymoron.
Another notch in Walker’s belt, in the face of screams from the media (i.e. Milwaulkee Journal Sentinal) and Democrats.
Imagine if he were in the White House. (Don’t get me started.)DONATE
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