Leaked documents: Governor Walker sought corporate donations in 2012 recall

MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers protected lead paint manufacturers after one of their owners helped Republicans win elections. That's according to documents leaked to the British newspaper The Guardian.

Governor Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker

The documents are from the former John Doe investigation into Walker's 2012 recall campaign. It comes as prosecutors are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to re-open the case.

Who released them, and why now?

It could be a crime. But what's in the documents is just as controversial.

In the wake of Act 10, as recalls loomed against Governor Scott Walker and several Republican state senators, the governor's effort to defeat them ramped up.

Documents published by The Guardian newspaper show Walker went after corporate donors, directing them to the Wisconsin Club for Growth -- where there was no limit to how much they could give.

One man wrote a $10,000 check "because Scott Walker asked."

Courtesy: The Guardian

Courtesy: The Guardian

But there was bigger money to be had, according the The Guardian.

Harold Simmons, then-owner of NL Industries, sent one check, then another, then another -- totaling $750,000.  Documents show the governor was warned that Simmons was controversial.

NL Industries had made lead paint before the U.S. banned it in 1978, and now faced lawsuits over health effects.  The next year, in 2013, Republic Lawmakers and Walker passed legislation that retroactively protected lead paint makers from lawsuits.

Democrats called it "payback."

Peter Barca

Peter Barca

"I'm anxious for that Paul Harvey moment, 'now the rest of the story,' because I think there's a lot more to this story we still don't know about," said Peter Barca.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in the 2012 recall race, said he was shocked by the lead paint details.

"I have to admit, my reaction was 'wow,'" said Mayor Barrett.

Before the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down the John Doe last year, investigators were looking into whether Walker's campaign illegally coordinated with the Club for Growth.

Three prosecutors want the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case.

In the meantime, the John Doe materials were supposed to be kept secret.

Democrats responded Wednesday at the Capitol, "If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it looks like a duck, it's most likely a duck," said Senate Minority Leader Peter Barca. "It's up to Scott Walker to tell us why this isn't a poisoned duck."

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, one of the John Doe prosecutors, says whoever leaked the documents to the The Guardian committed a crime.

Walker's campaign spokesman, responded to the story, saying "there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing" in the John Doe case.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office released the following statement in regards to the leaked documents:

"John Doe materials are secret materials.  The public release of this John Doe evidence without court authorization is not merely a violation of the John Doe secrecy order; it is a crime under Wisconsin law.  As Special Prosecutor Fran Schmitz has done in the past when other secret materials have been publicly disclosed, we support any effort that may be undertaken to determine the source of these newest leaks."

Assembly Democrats responded to the investigation with the following:

In the aftermath of an investigative journalism report from The Guardian released this morning, Assembly Democrats responded to the shocking and explosive documents the newspaper uncovered. The report raises serious questions regarding whether Gov. Walker was partaking in pay-to-play politics and illegally coordinating with corporations and special interests to raise funds for the Club for Growth. Following the press conference, Assembly Democratic leaders Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) released the following statement:

“This explosive investigative piece brings to light the incredibly questionable behavior by the governor and the Republican legislature,” Rep. Barca said. “Because Scott Walker asked, the era of clean and open government is over. Now we know why the Republicans worked so mightily to keep these documents from the public. Now we know why the Republicans have been passing legislation to keep their jobs instead of serving the people of Wisconsin. Now we know why Wisconsin has some of the worst campaign finance laws in the country. Because Scott Walker asked.

“Democrats have been pushing back against this contemptable assault on our democracy by the governor and legislative Republicans. We need to continue to tirelessly fight to bring transparency and openness back to Wisconsin, especially in light of the air of corruption surrounding the Capitol,” said Barca.

Rep. Shankland added, “Today’s report from The Guardian brings into serious question the integrity and character of Scott Walker and those legislative Republicans who knew of these troubling allegations while they were unfolding. In Walker’s Wisconsin, money speaks. Our democracy hinges on our ability to maintain transparency and serve the people’s interests, yet the allegations revealed today point to bills going to the highest bidder in Walker’s Wisconsin. The report released this morning leaves us with more questions than answers.

“According to the report, millions of dollars were funneled to the shadowy Club for Growth at Walker’s request. Who knew? Did Republican legislators know about it when they voted to exempt themselves from John Doe investigations, blast open the doors to corporate campaign donors, and neuter the nonpartisan government watchdog into a partisan lapdog? The appearance of quid-pro-quo corruption and illegal coordination between the governor and corporate interest groups is extremely damning and deserves further scrutiny. Assembly Democrats will continue to fight for clean and transparent government and speak out against Republican efforts to rig the rules to keep their jobs,” Shankland concluded.

CLICK HERE to read the Supreme Court of Wisconsin's opinion in this case

CLICK HERE for further coverage of the two "John Doe" investigations involving Governor Scott Walker

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20 comments

    • FOX6 IS FULL OF CRYBABY LIBERALS

      FOX6 is on some sort of cranky liberal kick today and posting all sorts of Anti-Walker “Stories” (If you can even call them “stories”). I guess they ran out of real news to report… interesting since I handed them several *real* stories regarding real issues that have a big impact on locals, but they as usual, chose to ignore them because they don’t boost their liberal point-of-view or something. FOX6 is a pathetic and worthless “news” station if you can even call it that. Hope FOX network gets a clue and dis-owns them sometime.

  • CYNIC

    Yes, and all of that is 100% legal and typical. You think Hillary is giving speeches to big banks with no quid pro quo? Where does Fox think superpacs get their money from? Not saying that’s necessarily good or bad, but its legal. There too much money in politics on every possible side of the equation. It shouldn’t cost $1 billion to run for president especially when everyone always promised to help out the little guy. So all the elitists and CEOs throw away money by the truckload in exchange for favors while the average american gets stiffed. The entire system from top to bottom is broken and corrupt. But as long as they all keep offering freebies to the masses, they will always stay in power. What’s that saying about the tree of liberty…?

    • Get real

      YES ALL politicians that lie Republican ,Democrat or independent should be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing so. But you really think that would ever happen any politician tell the whole truth. Get real

  • Hyman Roth

    I’m just a retired pensioner living in poverty and glad that Walker put down the unions and stopped them from extorting union dues from young teachers at over a G note a year and giving liberal schools a free check to spend out of control on the broken backs of hard working taxpayers. They need to pay the teachers more money but not from the average joe.

    • Truth

      Instead of knocking down one group of workers why don’t you just stomp on all the workers , isn’t that being a true Republican. Take away, take away , cut wages, cut benefits, pay more pay more.

    • FOX6 IS FULL OF CRYBABY LIBERALS

      How about you freeloading liberals pay us taxpayers back for all of the millions of our money you wasted with your pathetic recall election, then we’ll talk. You sound like a typical “Woe is me..” butthurt liberal, kind of like the same butthurt liberals that run FOX6.

  • Mike

    I see my comment from yesterday was deleted when I asked about Barrett getting all of his donations from out of state corporations to go along with his thousands of recall signers from out of state liberals. I guess that is OK Fox to NOT report.

    • FOX6 IS FULL OF CRYBABY LIBERALS

      Of course FOX6 removed it, the whole station is run by man-child cry baby liberals who don’t like anyone to hurt their little feelings or have an opinion that is different from there own, so they take to removing comments and I’ve even seen them (very obviously) using employees to post responses that compliment their own stories and then quick “close” the comments so no one can point this fact out. FOX6 really is trashy. Oh and I WILL keep posting this… FOX6 is just proving my point by making their angry man-child employees remove my post.

  • Biddy

    So what about Hillary’s emails? And how come those in the investigation had everything seized, gone over with a fine tooth comb, were watched like hawks, THREATENED IF they say ANYTHING to the press–and this was not the GOP that was looking over this, mind you, this was the Democrats, and their darling can do whatever she wants while the worst thing found in all these different investigations was a person used email on a break? Sheesh, move on already. This is any more news than Bill Clinton’s many escapades or Hillary’s practically handing classified info to Putin and ISIS on a silver platter–if those things aren’t news, then ONE person in Walker’s administration “caught” using office email outside of work hours hardly even qualifies, and usually things like that don’t become national news. At worst the person gets fired. Actually it’s Hillary that needs to be FIRED, from ANY public official position. She would screw up a garbage company if she was in charge of it. I was going to say animal shelter, but I wouldn’t dare put poor animals through something like that.