John Doe target O’Keefe taking on IRS, too


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Eric O’Keefe risked jail time to speak out against a Democrat-driven John Doe investigation into dozens of conservative groups.

Now he’s telling the prosecution of that probe to shut it down or face a civil rights lawsuit for what O’Keefe asserts is “political payback by elected prosecutors against conservative activists for their political successes in Wisconsin.

To date, the political activist appears to be the only conservative subpoenaed to openly defy the secret probe’s strict gag order to tell the Wall Street Journal about targets who had their homes raided before dawn and their possessions seized.

FIGHTING BACK: Limited-government advocate Eric O’Keefe is engaged in the fights of his life – with Wisconsin prosecutors in a secret John Doe case and in a national lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service. His conservative allies say O’Keefe’s battles are about nothing short of preserving basic American rights – chief among them, free speech.

But free-market advocate O’Keefe is no stranger to taking a stand against what he sees as blatant government abuse.

The director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a proponent of lower taxes and limited government, is on the board of directors of Citizens for Self-Governance. CSG filed a lawsuit last May seeking damages against the Internal Revenue Service after the agency was found to have targeted conservative groups, flagging and delaying their applications for nonprofit status based on their tea party-sounding names.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those known and unknown who have been abused by a federal government running amok,” Mark Meckler, CSG president and cofounder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement in May 2013 announcing the litigation.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Western Division in Cincinnati, has yet to be class-certified.

Meckler, in an interview with Wisconsin Reporter this week, said the government has dragged the process along.

“Clearly their primary goal is to delay and obfuscate,” he said. “And I can tell you the opposing counsel has been nothing but uncooperative.”

So far, 11 plaintiffs have signed on to the lawsuit, according to Meckler, although he said there are many more “behind the scenes” who have asked not to be named.

“Our goal is that we represent anybody harmed by the IRS,” he said.

The IRS targeted 292 conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status, according to Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration who detailed what the IRS has billed as “improper” activities.

Meckler asserts Wisconsin’s secret John Doe investigation is part of a broader effort nationally by the liberal-led government to go after big-government opponents, like O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth.

“I think this John Doe is the worst example of this stuff in the nation. You’ve got pre-dawn raids in homes — these are fascist-type tactics,” Meckler said.

The probe’s presiding judge raised serious questions about the investigation last Friday when he quashed several of the subpoenas to conservative groups and their directors ordered the return of property to the targets, according to a copy of the secret order obtained by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled the subpoenas “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.”

The investigation, launched nearly two years ago by the Democrat-led Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, has been digging for evidence of “illegal coordination” between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and the conservative groups that allegedly occurred during Wisconsin’s unprecedented recall elections, sources have told Wisconsin Reporter.

Prosecutors, including special prosecutor Francis Schmitz and Milwaukee County Assistant DA Bruce Landgraf have repeatedly declined to comment on the John Doe.

The probe doesn’t appear to be targeting any liberal groups, despite tens of millions of dollars pumped into the recall campaigns by both sides. In that way, the John Doe bears a striking resemblance to the IRS scandal, Meckler charges.

“I think this scandal is just the beginning of their intent to wipe out the conservative infrastructure in the state. It’s important we do not walk away from this fight,” he said.

And Meckler, O’Keefe’s friend and fellow free-market freedom fighter, said he knows the conservative target has no intention of giving up his fight in the John Doe saga.

“I’m really proud of Eric. Thank God there is a patriot like him to stand up and speak. Lord knows where this situation would be without him,” Meckler said.

Contact M.D. Kittle at

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