Politics & Government
2:00 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Unsealed John Doe Documents: Prosecutors Believe Walker was Part of Illegal "Scheme"

Credit Eric Thayer, Getty Images
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice shares insights into the John Doe investigation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich.

A federal court released 266 pages of documents on Thursday, related to a John Doe probe prosecutors launched into Wisconsin's 2012 recall campaigns.

The investigation was exploring whether conservative funders and Gov. Walker's campaign illegally coordinated campaign activities during the 2012 recalls of Walker and Republican state senators.

The documents show prosecutors believe Gov. Walker was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate fundraising with outside conservative groups.

Walker responded to the latest developments while in Milwaukee on Thursday.

"I think it's pretty clear.  You've got a state judge and a federal judge who said they didn't buy into the argument that's being presented at this point.  I think their words speak pretty strongly, both at the state and federal level," Walker said.

Several weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ordered prosecutors to halt the probe, ruling that it was violating certain parties' first amendments rights. The Wisconsin Club for Growth had sued prosecutors. They are appealing Randa's decision.

The pages released on Thursday identify the groups that wanted to halt investigators from issuing subpoenas. Those groups included Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Citizens for a Strong America.

In the newly-released court papers, prosecutors state that they suspected Walker and others of violating campaign laws that "included a nationwide effort to raise undisclosed funds for an organization which then funded the activities of other organizations supporting or opposing candidates subject to recall."

Among the names cited as perhaps being involved in coordinated effort are Walker and R.J. Johnson, who worked on the governor's campaign and is an advisor to the Wisconsin Club for Growth. It was actively involved in the 2012 recall battles.

The documents also contain a statement attributed to the governor communicating with national conservative strategist Karl Rove reading, "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 the state."

Two unnamed parties had attempted to block the release of the documents made public Thursday.

Wisconsin Club for Growth has claimed that prosecutors are targeting the group, because it is conservative.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice has faced allegations since he broke the fact that there was a John Doe investigation taking place, wondering how he gained access to the information. Bice finds this situation to be rather bizarre, being not entirely sure whether this is still a John Doe case.

“If the Seventh Circuit would decide that the investigation could go on and if there were no problems here, it would be very bizarre to continue, but I am guessing they would ramp up the investigation and start going again,” said Bice.

Bice says no matter how this plays out, he highly doubts that this will be resolved by the fall election.

Lake Effect's Mitch Teich talks with Mordecai Lee about the political impact of the investigation.