Wisconsin AG Report: Govt election officials were “on a mission to bring down the Walker campaign and the Governor himself”
Report on John Doe investigations reveals invasion of privacy and other malfeasance, and existence of previously unknown John Doe No. 3.
The “John Doe” investigations of Wisconsin conservatives, targeting particularly Governor Scott Walker, was a shameful chapter of political abuse of the prosecutorial process.
My most recent post was The rotting corpse of Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation still stinks, which details the history of investigations based on unconstitutional attempts to silence conservatives. The cases eventually were thrown out and shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But not until lives had been ruined, and people terrorized.
There was John Doe No. 1, investigating Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. They never came up with any wrongdoing by him.
Then there was John Doe No. 2, regarding Walker’s alleged unlawful collusion with conservative groups during the recall election. It is John Doe No. 2 that has generated litigation over several years. In the end, every court that ruled on the issue found that the entire prosecution legal theory was legally unfounded — that even if these conservative groups did what they were alleged to have done, it was constitutionally protected speech and not illegal.
(note: Michael Lutz in this interview from late April 2015 committed suicide in late July).
We have several dozen posts about the history of John Doe No. 2 . Scroll through our John Doe (WI) tag. Here are some key posts in our extensive coverage of the John Doe investigation reflecting the abusive tactics:
- Can we finally stick a fork in Wisconsin John Doe?
- Revealed: Wisconsin John Doe investigation was full-blown anti-conservative fishing expedition
- Exposed: How Prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives
- Was Prosecutor’s union-operative wife behind “John Doe” investigation of Scott Walker?
- Wisconsin “John Doe” War on Walker wins “Nastiest Political Tactic of the Year”
- Wisconsin Dems used battering rams against Scott Walker supporters – literally
- Former Scott Walker Aide Sues prosecutors for WI John Doe “Home Invasion”
Now there are new revelations in a Report from the Wisconsin Attorney General (full embed at bottom of post)(pdf.)that was unsealed by the court today.
The AG investigation concerned the violation of a court order sealing investigation records. In violation of that order, documents about Wisconsin conservatives, gathered as part of the investigation, were leaked to The Guardian newspaper in Britain.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports:
Attorney General Brad Schimel is asking for disciplinary action against nine people following his investigation into the leaking of documents collected during a now-closed probe of Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.
Schimel made the recommendation in a report released Wednesday. Jefferson County Circuit Judge William Hue is overseeing the probe and says he hopes to make a decision within 40 days after receiving the report Tuesday afternoon.
Schimel says former Government Accountability Board attorney Shane Falk should be referred to the Office of Lawyer Regulation for knowing and repeated violations of secrecy orders.
Schimel also said contempt proceedings should be brought against Falk and three other former GAB employees, special prosecutor Franc Schmitz, Elections Commission attorney Nathan Judnic and three employees of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
There was “systemic and pervasive mishandling” of evidence during the investigation that led to the leak of documents to the Guardian newspaper, Schimel said.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is not recommending the filing of any criminal charges following its investigation.
The numerous news reports about the Report gloss over the malfeasance disclosed in the Report, focusing mostly on the fact that no criminal charges were recommended.
But the Report is a blockbuster. It’s so long and detailed that I’m likely to update this post later. But here are some lowlights.
The introduction to the Report provides the overview (emphasis added):
As this report describes in detail, the systemic and pervasive mishandling of John Doe evidence likely resulted in circumstances allowing the Guardian leak in the first place, and now prevents prosecutors from proving criminal liability beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information.
In the following pages, this report will explain how the former GAB never fully divested itself of evidence from the John Doe investigations and how former GAB employees and current employees of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission (Ethics) left sensitive evidence unsecured in the former GAB office space and on former GAB computer systems. This report also describes how DOJ investigators, in searching for the leaked documents, discovered what this report calls “John Doe III,” a previously unknown and secret investigation into a broad range of Wisconsin Republicans. John Doe III reached far beyond John Doe II’s original (and unsubstantiated) allegation centering on unlawful “coordination” during Governor Walker’s 2010 election and 2012 recall election. As explained more thoroughly below, this secret investigation collected hundreds of thousands of private emails from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans (and at least two national conservative leaders, Ed Gillespie and Leonard Leo). In searching for the leaked documents and the leaker, DOJ investigators found over 500,000 of these John Doe III emails in the basement of the former GAB in two unsecured boxes labeled “Shane Falk.” Moreover, for reasons that perhaps may never be fully explained, GAB obtained and then held thousands of private emails from Wisconsin Republicans in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research.”
Government Accountability Board employees, who were supposed to supervise elections in a non-partisan manner, were motivated by anti-Walker politics during their investigations of Walker and conservatives (pg 80-81, emphasis added):
GAB attorneys represented themselves to the Milwaukee ADAs and to the special prosecutor as experts in the field of campaign finance law. The Milwaukee ADAs and the special prosecutor relied on the advice of GAB attorneys in proceeding with the investigation. After reviewing the emails exchanged between the attorneys
at GAB, it is apparent that GAB attorneys had prejudged the guilt of Governor Walker, Wisconsin Republicans, and related organizations that they were investigating and this dramatically influenced their ability to give competent legal advice.
GAB attorneys did not act in a detached and professional manner. The most reasonable inference is that they were on a mission to bring down the Walker campaign and the Governor himself.
As the AP reports, there was a broad invasion of the privacy of people whose emails and other electronic information was collected:
In a report to the judge overseeing the probe released Wednesday, Schimel concluded the leak came from the former Government Accountability Board, but couldn’t determine who exactly was behind it.
“Although probable cause certainly exists to believe that a crime was committed, DOJ does not currently possess proof beyond a reasonable doubt necessary to convict any particular person of a criminal offense at this time,” Schimel said.
The report also discloses that Justice Department investigators discovered a previously unknown secret investigation “into a broad range of Wisconsin Republicans” related to illegal campaigning on state government time. The GAB, which was disbanded in late 2015, held thousands of private emails from Wisconsin Republicans in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research,” the report said.
Investigators received chat logs or emails from Walker; U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson; U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos; and Reince Priebus, the former Wisconsin Republican Party chairman who went on to head the Republican National Committee and serve briefly as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.
Many of the emails obtained were personal and “completely unrelated to campaigns” and DOJ was unable to determine why investigators had them, Schimel said in the report.
Three also was disclosed the previously unkown existence of John Doe No. 3
A DOJ report on a leak to the Guardian newspaper regarding a previous John Doe investigation into @GovWalker shows there was "a previously
unknown and secret investigation into a broad range of Wisconsin Republicans" known as John Doe III.
— Molly Beck (@MollyBeck) December 6, 2017
The Report describes how John Doe III was discovered when AG investigators were tracking down documents (pp. 62-63):
In addition, DOJ also discovered that comingled with this evidence was evidence related to a previously unknown GAB investigation into members of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (hereinafter “Wisconsin Republicans”). For ease of reference, this report will identify this previously unknown investigation as “John Doe III.” ….
Due to the nature of evidence collected, DOJ believes that John Doe III expanded and ultimately became intertwined with the other investigations into Wisconsin Republicans since much of the evidence of John Doe III was comingled with evidence from John Doe II and John Doe I. In fact, a database obtained from the
Milwaukee County DA’s office describing over 200 search warrants and subpoenas issued between 2010 and 2013 did not make any distinction between evidence from John Doe I, John Doe II, or John Doe III. It appears that prosecutors believed that Wisconsin Republicans were “coordinating” expenditures or campaigning on state
time during the 2010 election and the subsequent 2012 recall election, and so prosecutors and the former GAB staff simply shared whatever evidence they could obtain related to Republican campaigning and fundraising. DOJ was not able to discern any limit into this investigation.
Of course, no charges were ever filed resulting from John Doe III, but the nature and scope of this investigation was exceedingly broad and, until now, unknown to the public.
The Report describes how John Doe No. 3 swept up large amounts of personal information about Wisconsin conservatives (pp 65-66)(emphasis added):
The investigation included subpoenas to state officials (such as the Assembly Chief Clerk, Legislative Technology Services Bureau, and the Department of Financial Institutions) and several search warrants executed on the private email accounts of state employees, state officials, and campaign workers and fundraisers associated with Wisconsin Republicans and Governor Walker. In the “Falk boxes,” three hard drives in particular contained nearly 500,000 unique emails (from Yahoo and Gmail accounts, for example) and other documents (email attachments, for example) totaling millions of pages. The hard drives included transcripts of Google Chat logs between several individuals, most of which were purely personal (and sometimes very private) conversations. GAB placed a large portion of these emails into several folders entitled, “Opposition Research” or “Senate Opposition Research.” DOJ has been unable to determine who labeled these emails as “Opposition Research,” what the purpose of this label was, or how these emails were to be used in the future. However, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponizing of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive why GAB needed any information from GoDaddy.com related to former Republican Senate Leadership Association Chairman Ed Gillespie or why staff attorneys wanted information held by Google for Leonard Leo, Executive Director of the Federalist Society….
Because of the very broad nature of the search warrants, the John Doe III investigators obtained emails and chat logs from hundreds and perhaps thousands of other individuals who corresponded with the individuals listed above. For example, investigators obtained chat logs and/or emails from the following individuals, merely because they corresponded with one or more individuals in the list above: Governor Scott Walker, Speaker Robin Vos, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, former U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall, former RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Congressman Sean Duffy, State Senators Van Wanggard and Howard Marklein, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, former Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Joe Fadness, and legislative staffers Tad Ottman, Jenny Toftness, and Adam Foltz.
Many emails obtained did, in fact, include campaign-related conversations and plans. But in addition to campaign-related emails (which were apparently the target of the investigators), a very large portion of emails were personal and completely unrelated to campaigns. As would be expected in most personal email accounts, many of the conversations were private and personal. DOJ investigators were unable to determine why GAB investigators obtained, reviewed, categorized, labeled, and organized private emails of Republican political operatives, state employees, and other related individuals.
The breadth of information and communications contained in the “Falk boxes,” apparently as the result of the John Doe III investigation into Wisconsin Republicans, was breathtaking.
It’s now confirmed that the #JohnDoe witchhunt reached my own life, even so far as to collect private medical information included in my emails with my daughter and stored in a file titled "opposition research." Horrifying! pic.twitter.com/Qkac57GZzF
— Leah Vukmir (@LeahVukmir) December 6, 2017
The Report recommended a Bar disciplinary referral and contempt of court proceedings against numerous individuals:
Under separate cover, DOJ will provide the necessary evidence for the Court
to take the following actions:
Refer Attorney Shane Falk to the Office of Lawyer Regulation for
knowing and repeated violation of Judge Peterson’s January 27, 2014,
Initiate contempt proceedings against the following individuals to
remedy violations of orders of the John Doe Judge and orders of the
Wisconsin Supreme Court, as more specifically outlined in a separate
letter to the John Doe Judge:
o Former Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz
o Former GAB employee Kevin Kennedy
o Former GAB employee Shane Falk
o Former GAB employee Molly Nagappala
o Former GAB employee Jonathan Becker
o Elections Commission Counsel Nathan Judnic
o Milwaukee ADA David Robles
o Milwaukee Administrator James Krueger
o Milwaukee DA Investigator Robert Stelter
(added) For additional analysis, I also suggest you read the post by the expert on the John Doe proceedings, Matt Kittle at the MacIver Institute, DOJ Report: Wisconsin’s Infamous John Doe Was More Sinister Than First Reported:
DOJ investigators believe the leak to the Guardian was calculated to attempt to influence a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether to take up John Doe prosecutors request for review of the state court’s decision shutting down the investigation – and whether they could hold onto the possessions they illegally took. The Guardian hit piece, with hundreds of pages of cherry-picked court documents, was published just days before the court unanimously rejected the case.
Sloppy disregard for the security of the court-sealed John Doe documents – at the GAB and at the state Supreme Court office – left the DOJ unable to identify beyond a reasonable doubt who had access to the records, when the records where accessed or “who stole them,” according to the report.
Here’s the scary footnote to a frightening report on government abuse: The Department of Justice cannot assure any John Doe II or III target that information illegally seized from them “will not be published on the Internet or by The Guardian at some future date.”
“Nor can DOJ assure any person whose information was gathered that they will not suffer from identity theft or face other adverse consequences as a result of the irresponsible way that GAB handled personal information,” the report states.
Here is the full report (pdf.):
Wisconsin AG Report on Violations of John Doe Secrecy Orders by Legal Insurrection on Scribd
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Not saying it’s the same, but it has a feel that is similar to the feel of the Mueller investigation.
If so, I wonder what kind of pipeline from the Mueller investigation has been established to pump information over to the DNC in anticipation of the 2020 election. I really doubt that anything really juicy has been transferred yet, because the DNC has no self-control, and would splat it all over the papers in minutes.
The pipeline would be the numerous Dem donors working for Mueller
….so like would be Führer Mueller…..
Exactly the same as Herr Mueller’s Gestapo terror.
Reichfurher comey is smiling.
Swamp sessions should show up for work and put them both in a supermax. Or the end of a lethal injection. Either way.
Swamp Session? You there?
wow is an understatement of epic proportions…
Has everyone seen this from today concerning dirty Mueller as head of the F.I.B. and its dirty doing employees?
They figuratively rip Hillary and Mueller to shreds.
Well worth your listening.
“Representatives Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and others hold a press conference. 6.12.17”
…and standing in front of a microphone whimpering about how unsporting the Special Counsel is behaving is the typical Republican response which allows them to virtue signal while doing nothing that would irritate the Washington Post and Sen. Schumer or correct the situation
The only shame felt by Democrats is that their loyal foot soldiers were caught. Internally, these are Party heros on par with Palestinian martyrs. They so deeply believe their political opponents are evil that any action is justified. This abuse of Wisconsin’s government to attack opponents must require the stiffest of penalties from which the perpetrators can not be salvaged by the Party. Frankly, that level of retribution is not available in this country.
What we are uncovering in WI is what was happening in all federal departments under obama. It also happened in the FBI. It is now happening under Mueller. When do we stand and say ENOUGH! This is as bad as Mexico or Guatemala. Those in power control law enforcement, the military, healthcare and most of our daily lives. We must raise our voices to those who represent us and tell them ENOUGH! Get off of your lazy a$$es and call your Congressmen/women.
Remember the testimony about the politicization of the IRS? It appears as though ANY state or local agency that could be used to bring charges against a conservative political opponent HAS been used by the Left.
If BAR associations were worth anything at all these guys would be disbarred for life.
Speaking of which, was Mueller required to notify Gen. Flynn’s attorney and/or the judge accepting the guilty plea that Strzok, the questioner and alledger against Flynn, was fired for expressed bias, or whatever you call it, before the plea deal was accepted?
How come EVERY time something like this comes to light its always involving DEMOCRATS doing some shit to conservatives???
And people thought the Cold War ended? It’s final phase was always going to be right here in America.
Where is the media in all this?
Of thats right they were right there covering up all the Democrat games weren’t they.
Recommending nobody be prosecuted seems almost as outrageous as the Democrats criminal enterprise. Democrats used tax dollars confiscated from taxpayers to fund their “opposition research” into state and national Republicans for their political gain, intrusively invading everybody’s privacy in the process.
After uncovering the Democrat’s criminal scheme, the government used probably millions of dollars confiscated from taxpayers to fund this investigation, putting years of man-hours into the investigation to accumulate all of this evidence, then said it will not prosecute anybody with a crime.
Corrupt Democrats use taxpayer money to fund their criminal opposition research and invade everybody’s privacy, then Republicans spend millions to investigate only to decide not to prosecute so the corrupt Democrats avoid jail time.
Taxpayers fund it all and get screwed by both parties.
“Taxpayers fund it all and get screwed by both parties.”
Sadly, this pretty much sums up our entire political process.
What else would you have the report do? Pick someone at random to prosecute, even though it’s impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that that individual committed an offense?!
Civil libertarian hero Harvey Silverglate wrote a book titled, “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.” The premise is that the legislature has criminalized so much conduct that people unwittingly and frequently commit federal crimes just innocently leading their lives.
Silverglate’s book deals with federal statutes but I suspect it is similar at the state level. They can always charge you with something and force a plea – 97% of federal cases are plead out and 94% of state cases are plead out.
I don’t like that system at all. But that’s the system they’ve created. Democrats are not afraid to use it. Ask Ted Stevens, Tom Delay, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bob McDonnell.
In this case Democrats abused their power and used taxpayer money and resources for purely partisan reasons, and infringed the civil rights of Wisconsin and even national Republicans. Probably millions of dollars were spent investigating their crimes. But they can’t find anything to charge them with?
I don’t buy it.
I hate to say it, but I think Milhouse is right in that it would be virtually impossible to prove in a court a law exactly which corrupt attorney broke exactly which law.
Without deliberately designed & professionally installed auditing systems, it’s nearly impossible to determine who accessed an email. Let alone who created a folder, who copied which email into a folder and if the purge request on the John Doe I && II data was carried out faithfully. And which law is broken by creating a folder called “Opposition Research”. Is it actually opposition research? Was it used for such purposes?
Don’t get me wrong, this mess stinks to high heaven. But there are enough actors in GAB using what is most likely a simple information system that it’s just not possible to recreate each scumbag’s actions with anything more than modest confidence.
There is NO auditing system that cannot be circumvented when the people who are circumventing it are the ones supervising it.
John T. Chisholm was only mentioned 17 times in the report.
And once again, there will be limited (if any) accountability because Democrats destroyed the evidence.
The Democrat crime wave sweeping the country is actually a result of the GOP’s poor, cowardly leadership. It’s quite obvious that nothing will improve until the guilty start going to jail, but who on our side is putting them there?
I gave you a thumbs up for merely stating the obvious when you used “GOP” and “cowardly” in the same sentence
“…but who on our side is putting them there?”
Unfortunately, “our” side turned out to be on the other side.
Until we begin the replacement that started with Trump, nothing will change.
Everyone involved should be have their employment terminated without pension, and those who led the investigations should be jailed for their abuse of power. There have to be terrible consequences to prevent future abuse.
Or it’s just another dance of the uniparty.
And NeverTrumpers like Rags are 100% supportive of these tactics now that they are being used on President Trump and his staff, and for exactly the same reason: they don’t like who won the election and his supporters.
His every remark proves it, no matter how much he sputters it’s not true.
And how many of these scumbag Democrats have been prosecuted? How many have been run out of state then? Tarred and feathered? There should be real-life consequences for abuse of power like this.
The political abuse will continue until there is some punishment for those guilty of it. So far, I haven’t seen any.
“The numerous news reports about the Report gloss over the malfeasance disclosed in the Report, focusing mostly on the fact that no criminal charges were recommended.”
Exactly, and why should anything else be reported? ‘(Mostly conservative) ‘lives had been ruined and people terrorized’ – and those responsible for these egregious crimes against their political opponents will get little more than an infamous wrist slap.
If not such a soviet style travesty, all this would be a joke.
I said this elsewhere, but the John Doe investigations in Wisconsin were almost certainly the test runs for what the Obama administration has done to President Trump over the utterly nonsensical Russian collusion allegations.
Reads like the FBI, DOJ and Mueller.
I see a whole slew of civil rights violations. Sessions? Sessions? Sessions?