Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.
The allegations by five county district attorneys, released as part of a federal lawsuit over the investigation into Mr. Walker, suggest that some of the governorâ€™s top campaign aides directed the political spending of the outside groups, most of them nonprofits, and in effect controlled some of them.
The documents made public on Thursday threatened to cloud the political prospects of Mr. Walker, who is seeking election to a second term this fall and is mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016. They provided a rare view of the inner workings of a far-flung network of conservative nonprofit groups that have come to play a decisive role in national and state elections, secretly moving hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns by avoiding traditional political action committees, which typically face tougher disclosure requirements.
This is bigger than Scott Walker. Very briefly, it is alleged Walker, his aides, and political operatives connected to Club for Growth were coordinating the spending of various outside interest group, such as Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Bro’s outfit. By law, such groups cannot directly be in contact with political campaigns. Karl Rove’s name comes up, but it’s not clear he was in on anything.
Right-wing bloggers (Althouse, Instapundit et al.) still insist the investigation is nothing but a witch hunt directed by Democratic political operatives to stop Scott Walker from becoming president. Evidence? what evidence? Althouse is so upset by the “prosecutorial aggression and overreach” that she is tempted to renounce “the liberal values I believe in.” I’m not linking to this, as I’m afraid the bullshit could leach into my laptop and cause a system crash.
Other right-wing bloggers are calling the charges false, because. They’ve taken the position that the investigation itself is an outrage.
Mind you, this did not happen in the last day or so. This has been an ongoing John Doe investigation in 2014 which Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth have been attempting to quash. Wisconsin District Judge Randa agreed with Walkerâ€™s group and ordered all documentation destroyed. The case was appealed to the 7th District COA where Judge Easterbrook and two other judges over ruled Randa. â€œFederal Judge Rudolf Randa is a member of the Federalist Society and his wife donated often to Walkers campaign. Judge Randaâ€™s Judicial Assistant is the wife of Scott Walkers lawyer.â€ Hey, its all in the family.
â€œFederal Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook unsealed the court documents Thursday as he reviews a lawsuit attempting to end the John Doe probe. Two unnamed individuals this week tried to intervene in the case to prevent the release of the records, but Easterbrook rebuffed their request.â€ I wonder who that could be?
One alleged Scott Walker email with Karl Rove was released by Easterbrook in the ~250 pages.
â€œThe documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush, that Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson is also Walkerâ€™s longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative group active in the recall elections.â€™
â€˜Bottom line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,â€ Walker wrote to Rove. â€œWe are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9 Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)â€™â€ No crime there yet; but, it is a smoking gun.
Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth are accusing the state prosecutors of violating their rights to freedom of speech due to the gathering of this information which reveals the names of donators to pro-Republican/Conservative funds. They accuse the prosecutors of violating elections laws.
The 7th District COA with Judge Easterbrook as the chief judge of a panel of three is reviewing the case. Like Posner, Easterbrook is not so easily swayed by politics. It should get interesting.
Update: See Simon Maloy, “GOP Is Falling to Pieces.”
The funny thing is that as Republicans team up with pundits to chisel out Obamaâ€™s epitaph, the Republican Party itself is falling to pieces right before our eyes. . . .
. . . Now Christie and Walker are implicated in criminal investigations. Prosecutors in Wisconsin placed Walker at the center of a â€œcriminal schemeâ€ to coordinate campaign spending with outside groups. In New Jersey, the investigation stemming from the George Washington Bridge scandal is reportedly closing in on Christie himself. For both men, once considered potential saviors of the GOP, the political future looks considerably dimmer.
Losing two top-tier presidential candidates (and potentially two governorships) would be bad enough, but the party also has to deal with the Tea Party/establishment fight that flared anew with Eric Cantorâ€™s downfall earlier this month. The House leadership elections yesterday were quick and uneventful: Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy replaced Cantor as majority leader, and Rep. Steve Scalise replaced McCarthy as whip. Hardcore conservatives felt that Cantorâ€™s defeat at the hands of a Tea Partyer would send a message to the leadership that RINOs (itâ€™s still amazing they consider Eric Cantor a RINO) would not be tolerated at any level of government. The leadership heard that message, ignored it and installed McCarthy, whom the hard right considers even more of a squish than Cantor.
The media are conditioned to spew out the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative, whether the Dems are disarrayed or not. But as Maloy points out, right now about the only thing holding the Republican Party together is pathological hatred of Barack Obama.