Wisconsin Prosecutors Claim Scott Walker Violated Campaign Finance Laws in 'Criminal Scheme'
Wisconsin prosecutors are pushing on with an already invalidated investigation into Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, this time going so far as to say that Walker engaged in a "criminal scheme" by illegally coordinating his campaign efforts with outside groups.
In the new charges released Thursday, prosecutors allege that Governor Walker and two top deputies--R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl--illegally coordinated fundraising and political advertising activities with private sector groups such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth during efforts by Democrats to recall the governor and a host of other Republican lawmakers.
Prosecutors say that, starting in 2011, Walker and his aides coordinated with "a number of national groups and prominent figures," including Karl Rove, to defeat the recall movement and stay in office.
The charges, part of the discredited "John Doe" investigation, are the newest in a long line of claims made by prosecutors who have already been chastised for their wild overreach and obvious political motivations.
In the newly-released documents, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz alleges that there was a "criminal scheme of R.J. Johnson, Deborah Jordahl, Governor Scott Walker and Friends of Scott Walker to utilize and direct 501(c)(4) organizations, as well as other political committees" to illegally coordinate recall election efforts.
The evidence "provides the State strong reason to believe that coordination occurred," Schmitz concluded.
Federal Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook unsealed the court documents on June 19. The judge is considering a lawsuit filed by Walker's supporters seeking to have the investigation ended.
The initial series of far-reaching investigations were declared at an end on March 2 of last year. It resulted in no charges being filed against the governor.
Despite the purported end of the investigation, though, prosecutors continued their attacks on Walker and his associates until by May of 2014 U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa issued an injunction calling into question the legitimacy of the whole operation.
The information released Thursday came at the behest of the conservative groups suing officials for using the prosecutor's office to launch a political campaign against them in violation of their rights to free speech.
"The materials released today are all ones that we asked the district court to unseal because the public has a right to know about the John Doe prosecutors' abuse of government power," Wisconsin Club for Growth attorney Andrew Grossman said in a statement released to the press.
The Club for Growth maintains that none of their advertisements urged a voting pattern, nor did they urge Wisconsiners to "vote for" or "vote against" any particular candidate but were instead only issue advocacy ads extolling the virtues of Walker's administration, activities that are in no way illegal.
On this particular point Judge Randa agreed when he invalidated the "John Doe" investigation earlier this year.
But prosecutors say that emails, such as those between Walker and political strategist Karl Rove, prove that illegal coordination occurred.
Once such email from Walker sent to Rove on May 4, 2011, says, "Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)."
With evidence such as this, Schmitz says that the investigation should continue.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com