Scott Walker eliminates state agency that helped target conservatives, while legislative investigations of prosecutors in the works.
We extensively covered the two Wisconsin “John Doe” cases in which prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives in Wisconsin.
John Doe No. 1 concerned Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive.
John Doe No.2 was the more notorious, as a Democratic lead prosecutor unleashed the equivalent of SWAT teams on conservatives, raiding homes, seizing electronic records, and generally terrorizing innocent people.
It was a nasty, vicious investigation (note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July 2015).
John Doe No. 2 was definitively shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which found that it was based on a faulty and unconstitutional legal theory, and employed outrageous tactics that never should be repeated (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.
An attempt at rehearing was rejected in a ruling that affirmed the impropriety of the proceeding.
I discussed the legal proceedings recently in a radio interview:
Now the John Doe prosecutors are mulling an attempt to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, to which one of the targets of the probe essentially says “make my day”:
With a state Supreme Court deadline looming, a conservative target of Wisconsin’s notorious John Doe investigation is urging Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to take his case to the court.
Political activist Eric O’Keefe believes there’s a teachable moment here for the partisan DA who launched the investigation more than three years ago.
O’Keefe in a statement issued Wednesday said Chisholm should file to intervene in the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent ruling that reaffirmed the politically driven probe into dozens of conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker was unconstitutional.
O’Keefe asserts the Democrat DA should also “hire competent counsel” to review his options for filing a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state court’s ruling.
“Chisholm and his allies have not been willing to accept the clear decisions” of John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson, federal judges Charles Clevert and Rudolph Randa, or the state supreme court, O’Keefe said.
Meanwhile, the legal payback has started.
Scott Walker already has signed a law emasculating the John Doe statute, and ensuring it can’t be used as political witchhunts.
But there are more developments.
A small part of the story, and one on which few people focused outside Wisconsin, was the role played by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which governed elections in Wisconsin.
Conservatives who sued the state’s political speech cop for helping to drive a politically motivated investigation picked up a huge victory in court Thursday.
Conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth resolved their lawsuit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, with the GAB agreeing it will refrain from funding and assisting future criminal prosecutions in violation of its statutory authority.
The victory for conservatives targeted in the unconstitutional John Doe investigation was announced a day after Gov. Scott Walker, himself a target of the political probe, signed legislation eliminating the GAB and replacing it with two separate ethics and elections commissions.
While the regulator doesn’t admit any wrongdoing, it acknowledges “it had contact with prosecutors about the subject of John Doe II and later made expenditures in conducting GAB Investigation No. 2013-02 in cooperation with prosecutors conducting the John Doe II investigation,” according to a press release issue by Kansas City, Mo.-based Graves Garrett LLC, the law firm that represented the conservatives.
In what I think is a classic Walker move, he also just signed legislation eliminating GAB. Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Gov. Scott Walker has cemented key changes in time for the 2016 political campaign, signing into law bills giving campaign finance law its biggest makeover in decades and dismantling and replacing Wisconsin’s oversight board for elections and elected officials….
Walker’s signing of the two bills, announced in a press release, was conducted in private Wednesday. It was widely expected after the bills passed the Legislature last month on votes that largely mirrored party lines.
The campaign finance measure dials back restrictions on money flowing into state political campaigns, some of which had been struck down by court rulings.
The signing of the measure dismantling the Government Accountability Board kicks off a six-month transition to new elections and ethics commissions that will succeed it on June 30.
What’s more, Republicans in the state legislature are moving forward on a bill, which presumably will be signed by Walker, to authorize legislative investigations into the John Doe Prosecutors and GAB role:
The committee would have the authority to “investigate all facets of a John Doe investigation,” once it is officially closed.
In the case of the politically driven John Doe probe into conservatives, the committee could turn the tables on the state Government Accountability Board and the John Doe prosecutors, compelling them to testify about their activities and conduct.
John Doe law emasculated? Check. State agency eliminated? Investigators now being investigated? Check.
None of this adequately remedies the wrongs committed under the John Doe investigations. But at least it’s some level of payback.DONATE
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