Right on cue: Document dump fuels anti-Walker donation drive

Part 87 of 87 in the series Wisconsin’s Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Not long after news broke of a court-ordered records release related to the politically charged John Doe investigation, wouldn’t you know it: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin had its hand out looking for campaign contributions.

Shortly after Thursday’s massive document dump, the mouth of the Wisconsin left, DPW chairman Mike Tate, was begging for donations to “Stop Walker from buying this election.”

The cover charge to the party: $5, $35, $50, $100.

Yep, Democrats are trying to make political hay on the unsealed court documents tied to a federal lawsuit against the prosecutors of the secret investigation into dozens of conservative groups.

HAND OUT: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Thursday made the court-debunked John Doe investigation a fundraising cry.

And Tate and crew, of course, don’t mind stretching the truth all the way to the bank.

The fundraising appeal says the newly released documents show prosecutors targeting Gov. Scott Walker “due to his involvement in a nationwide criminal scheme to coordinate with outside groups in an attempt to buy the recall election of 2012.”

Not quite.

The nearly two-year-old “John Doe investigation” launched by Democrat Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been investigating dozens of conservative organizations and Friends of Scott Walker, the governor’s campaign. The probe, bound by a court-issued secrecy order, has operated under the prosecutors’ theory that the conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s campaign during the state’s partisan recall election drives.

What Tate fails to mention is that two judges, John Doe presiding judge Gregory Peterson and U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa, have shot holes in the campaign-finance theory, with Randa declaring it “simply wrong.”

The federal judge, presiding over a civil rights lawsuit filed by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, early last month shut down the probe. And the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the same court that ordered the release of previously sealed documents, last month declared unconstitutional the portion of campaign finance law that involves issue advocacy, the mode of protected political speech in which the conservative targets were engaged.

Walker took aim at Chisholm in a statement blasting what he said are false accusations.

“This is nothing more than a partisan investigation with no basis in state law,” Walker said in the heated statement. “It’s time for the prosecutors to acknowledge both judge’s (Sic) orders to end this investigation.”

In a recent court filing, Peterson wrote that if his decision quashing several of the subpoenas issued in the John Doe probe is upheld at the state Supreme Court, the “ultimate and inevitable consequence will be to terminate” the investigation.

“It seems rather incongruous for the State to continue to examine documents based on an interpretation of the law that I have ruled is invalid,” Peterson said of the prosecutors, who noted he is amending the stay of his original order to include that while the stay is in effect, the prosecutors “shall not examine any material secured from any source by legal process such as subpoena or search warrant.”

The Democrats’ Tate then goes on to stretch the truth beyond repair.

“Walker even went so far as to brag to Karl Rove about his illegal coordination,” Tate writes in the fundraising appeal.

John Doe prosecutors and the Government Accountability Board, which oversees state election and campaign finance laws, worked the theory that Walker’s camp and the conservative groups were illegally coordinating. That theory, to date, has been debunked by the two judges who have said it seems very apparent that no campaign finance violations occurred.

“Bottom-line: R.J. Johnson (political strategist for Walker) helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker wrote to Rove in May 2011. “We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)”

Two problems: It’s hard to make a case for express advocacy and quid pro quo (political favor for favor), as the prosecutors have, when what Walker is talking about in the 2011 email to Rove are Senate recall elections, not his own. The left-led recall campaign against Walker occurred more than a year later in 2012.

And Randa in his order shutting down the probe said there is no illegal coordination where like-minded groups come together. If that were the case, conservatives contend, why didn’t Chisholm and crew go after left-leaning groups who coordinated political efforts?

O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth “have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted,” Randa wrote in his earlier ruling. “Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ingrained in our culture.”

Conservative targets are not surprised by the Democratic Party contribution appeal and the machine’s fast-and-loose play with the truth.

O’Keefe in his lawsuit contends the investigation, which featured pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style” raids on the homes of conservative targets, was a political witch hunt from the very beginning, partisan-prosecuted payback for the political victories the right has won in recent years in Wisconsin.

“Now my Democratic opponents will use these false accusations to distract from the issues important to the voters of Wisconsin,” Walker said in the statement.

Right on cue.

American Bridge 21st Century, the Hillary Clintonattached left-leaning political action committee, jumped on the doc dump, luxuriating in the mainstream media’s headlines.

“(W)e know that Scott Walker is a direct subject of this investigation into potentially illegal coordination between Walker’s recall campaign and outside groups,” the PAC said in a release not long after the documents were made public. “More importantly, prosecutors are alleging that Walker’s campaign ‘tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law.”

Such closely timed releases from the Democratic Party and a liberal cause political action committee. Sounds like possible coordination.

Is a two-year John Doe probe in order?

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org