This week, as Gov. Scott Walker releases, Unintimidated, detailing his fight to curb public union rights, the Wall Street Journal sheds light on probe into the era.
The Wall Street Journal editorial reports that a John Doe investigation launched in Wisconsin early last year, has been targeting more than two dozen conservative groups and their activities during the 2011 and 2012 recall campaigns. The governor faced recall, so did various legislators during the political battle over public union rights.
According to the editorial, a special prosecutor has subpoenaed documents and records from groups including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity - Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Action, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
One source told the paper that agents raided at least three homes, as part of the probe.
The editorial expresses doubt over the reasons for the criminal investigation:
"The disclosure of conservative political donors has become a preoccupation of the political left across the country...Another reason for skepticism is the probe's timing as Mr. Walker's 2014 re-election campaign looms. This is the second such investigation against Mr. Walker in three and a half years, following one that began in the office of Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm in spring 2010. That probe examined whether staffers used government offices for political purposes while Mr. Walker was Milwaukee County Executive, but after three years turned up nothing on Mr. Walker and embarrassingly little else...Stifling allies of Mr. Walker would be an enormous in-kind contribution to Democrats. Even if no charges are filed, the subpoenas will have served as a form of speech suppression."
Speculation is, that investigators are looking into whether a network of independent groups may have illegally funneled money directly to candidates.
The Center for Media and Democracy favors the probe, according to its PR Watch:
"To the public, these money flows are absolutely obtuse and untraceable...many of those known funders exist in order to disguise the identity of the true donor...This secrecy deprives voters of the information necessary to assess a particular ad, and makes it nearly impossible to track whether elected officials are giving those donors special treatment...states have begun to take steps to shine light on dark money...Like these investigations (in California, Idaho and Kentucky), a John Doe in Wisconsin may be needed to unravel the elaborate dark money web. But what is truly needed is to put citizens back in the driver seat, and enact (and enforce) disclosure laws that prohibit the shell game and let the public know who is meddling in state and local politics."