John Doe probe: Prosecutors believe Gov. Walker was at center of nationwide “criminal scheme”

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Newly released documents show prosecutors believe Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate fundraising with outside conservative groups. 

No charges have been filed against Walker or any member of his staff.

The documents became public Thursday, June 19th as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the investigation by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth.

One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012 -- as Gov. Walker was facing a recall election.

The documents show prosecutors believe one of Gov. Walker's top campaign operatives used the non-profit Wisconsin Club for Growth as a hub to coordinate campaigns during hotly-contested recall battles.

Prosecutors claim the operative funneled money through political groups that are not required to show how the money is spent.

"The alleged coordination means that they were taking invisible money to advance campaign purposes, even though they were banned from doing that," UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee said.

Prosecutors say Gov. Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove.

In the documents, prosecutors say Gov. Walker was in on the scheme.

Meanwhile, Republicans are calling the case a witch hunt.

CLICK HERE to view all of the newly-released documents

"Were you at the center of a nationwide criminal scheme?" asked FOX6's Mike Lowe.

"No.  I think it's pretty clear, you've got two judges, both a state judge and a federal judge who said they didn't buy into the argument that has been presented at this point.  I think their words speak pretty strongly both at the federal and the state level," said Gov. Walker.

The more than 250 pages relating to the once-secret John Doe investigation were made public on Thursday because of a federal appeals judge.

The documents appear to show Gov. Walker himself knew that one of his top campaign operatives was coordinating with outside groups.

One of the most explosive revelations -- the documents contain an email from Gov. Walker to Republican political strategist Karl Rove. In it, Gov. Walker tells Rove that R.J. Johnson is going to run the statewide coordination campaign.

"Bottom line -- R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin . We are running nine recall elections and it will be like nine Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)" -- the email said.

Gov. Walker says he plans to keep Johnson working for his campaign.

In a conference call, prosecutors say Gov. Walker admitted to knowing how his operative was moving money.

The documents come in the context of a close race for governor. Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke spoke with FOX6 News shortly after the release of the documents.

"If that's true -- and I haven't seen it, that's very disappointing," said Burke.

"I think what happened (Thursday) is significant," Lee said.

Lee says at question is whether Gov. Walker illegally coordinated with outside political groups and hid millions in campaign contributions.

"We've got this principle that we as a voter have a right to know where he or she is getting their money," Lee said.

FOX6 News asked Lee what these documents mean for Gov. Walker politically -- both for the governor's race and a possible run at the White House. 

Lee says it really depends on what happens in court.

Currently, an appeals court is deciding whether the investigation into this alleged campaign coordination can continue.

When Gov. Walker was asked how voters should react to these new documents, he said he wants them to simply look at the facts of the case.

Gov. Walker has issued a statement that reads as follows:

"The accusation of any wrongdoing written in the complaint by the office of a partisan Democrat District Attorney by me or by my campaign is categorically false.  In fact two judges, in both state and federal courts, have ruled that no laws were broken.

This is nothing more than a partisan investigation with no basis in state law.  It’s time for the prosecutors to acknowledge both judge’s orders to end this investigation.

Now my Democratic opponents will use these false accusations to distract from the issues important to the voters of Wisconsin."

Retired Wisconsin State Appellate Judge Gregory A. Peterson’s order states three times that no violation of the law was committed:

“I conclude the subpoenas do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.”

“Therefore, the subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed.”

“Therefore, the subpoena issued to FOSW fails to show probable cause.”

Federal Court Judge Rudolph Randa stated in his federal order to shut down the investigation and that no violations occurred:

“While the defendants deny that their investigation is motivated by animus towards the plaintiffs‘ conservative viewpoints, it is still unlawful to target the plaintiffs for engaging in vigorous advocacy that is beyond the state‘s regulatory reach.”

“Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants‘ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted ―without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction.”

“The Defendants must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation. Plaintiffs and others are hereby relieved of any and every duty under Wisconsin law to cooperate further with Defendants‘ investigation. Any attempt to obtain compliance by any Defendant or John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson is grounds for a contempt finding by this Court.”

Meanwhile, a federal judge has rejected a request by five media groups to unseal the entire record in this case.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ruled Thursday against the media coalition, saying releasing the documents would subject those involved to "unwanted public scrutiny."

Randa's order came hours after a 7th Circuit Appeals Court judge made public the more than 250 pages of material in this case -- after prosecutors and Wisconsin Club for Growth did not object.

Two unnamed people objected to the release of those documents and the entire record.

Randa ordered them to work with both prosecutors and Wisconsin Club for Growth to determine within two weeks which records should remain secret.

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    • Keith

      Charged with what? Don’t you read anything besides the liberal slander? Two federal judges have required the John Doe investigation be shut down because they found NO LAWS WERE VIOLATED! You are just a Walker hater.

    • Keith

      Charged with what? Don’t you read anything besides the liberal slander? Two federal judges have required the John Doe investigation be shut down because they found NO LAWS WERE VIOLATED! You are just a Walker hater.

  • Scott

    The prosecutors can believe anything they want. But if there was anything that looked like proof, wouldn’t it be mentioned in this article?

      • Keith

        Come to terms on what? After 4 years of investigation Chisolm cannot find one charge to bring against Walker. The libs got what they wanted a headline. The only way they can win is to keep this frivolous story alive. The only good thing to come out about this is if Walker runs for President, unlike Obama, Walker will have been probed deep and hard and come out clean!

    • Telcom Charlie

      I want proof he balanced the budget. Apparently, we can’t believe everything he says anymore.

      • Keith

        You want proof? Just google it and read, oh that would require you to digest the information instead of having it spoon fed to you. So you can’t believe Walker and Diamond Jim was soooo much better. Robbing from one state agency to pay for another, choo choo, Maybe you should just go with Mary Burke who has changed her resume 7 TIMES in 3 months because she can’t get her story straight on when she worked for Trek, trying to vye her way out of having shipped WI jobs to China.

      • Telcom Charlie

        Okay. Google what, Walker’s website? Yeah, I can hear it now… Nothing to see here. All is well. Typical Walker mantra.


    Hey…FOX 6 how about investigating the cost to the state tax payers caused by the 5 attorneys accrued during their investigations on Scott Walker. Who gave them this assignment? Was any “outside” influences discussing this issue with them…(aka NEA) I think it is incumbent on our WI journalist to provide both sides of every issue. Since tax dollars must be involved..I’d like to know the answer!

  • S Joan

    I am so sick and tired of people constantly trying to find something against Gov. WALKER.
    Such babies you all are. I am almost embarrassed to be from WI, especially the Madison area. I agree with Pamela Lange!! TELL US THE TRUTH FROM BOTH SIDES!

  • Stugglingtomakeendsmeet

    Walker hurts the poor but I bet his kids gets a Good Education, Let God deal with ppl that intentionally hurt the poor, he will have his day, he will be judged! he is not getting over on anybody, and I bet he goes to church saying hail Mary….everyone that goes to church is not a God fearing Man,ijs

  • Telcom Charlie

    Hey look, Fox6 running a commercial to smear Mary Burke. I wonder where the money came from for that?

  • Thomas Murphy

    Destruction of Evidence and Judge Rudolph Randa 06 20 2014
    A red flag went up when I read that Randolph ordered the destruction of evidence. Here are the issues that I came up with regard to his egregious process.
    1. Evidence prevents bad history from repeating itself! I don’t see how a legitimate judge can ever order the destruction of evidence!
    2. Destruction of evidence is like a raccoon washing its hands and immediately declaring itself innocent of a crime or guilt.
    3. It’s not wanting to believe you committed a crime that you did!
    4. It goes to far with the level of sympathy and indicates therefore indicates the judge personally identifies with the criminal flaw; and hence should have never been a judge.
    5. It represents a continued belief that a crime committed wasn’t really a crime when it was. That leads to legistalation that supports crime and criminals.
    6. Wanting a victim to forget it was a victim so that you can further victimize them (or unsuspecting others like them!)
    7. Prisoner or defendant reform cannot occur from a sentence by a judge when one is allowed to deny they did something wrong. (As evidence against them was ordered destroyed.) Hence a judge who destroys evidence is not consistent with being a judge!
    8. There can be no greater evidence that a Judge is crooked then a judge ordering the destruction of evidence. This is not a third world country or a tribal based judicial system despite a personal bias to want it to be easy like that.
    9. If a judge orders the destruction of evidence does he also order the destruction of the embodiment of evidence; a witness! It is essentially the same criminal motivation isn’t it! It is the antithesis of legitimate criminal justice!
    10. A judge deciding someone is innocent by destruction of evidence against them? It equates to a delusion of professionalism doesn’t it? How many times do you ask yourself, his mother told him that he would make a good judge (or other profession) and that is what motivated him.
    11. If one hand of a person is evil the other is too. If a Judge orders the destruction of evidence then does he also order or empower the false creation of evidence?
    Thomas Paul Murphy
    Originally published on 06 20 2014 at:
    Copyright 2014 Thomas Paul Murphy

    • Keith

      He ordered the destruction of the documents because the “authorities” abused their power in obtaining the documents and the judge deeming these allegations as frivolous. Abuse extended to the pre-dawn raids, reserved only for the violent individuals, engineered only to scare and destroy the credibility of those being questioned. This was a politically motivated witch hunt indicated by 70 of the DA’s staff, almost all of them, signing the Walker Recall petition. The libs got what they wanted, a headline.

      Now the information contained in these files even extended to underage children, bank account, credit card, and investment account numbers, all their financial information. I woundn’t want that information in anyone elses hands.

      Must I remind you that in the US, we are innocent until proven guilty! After four years of gathering information (John Doe 1 and 2) and no charges, Chisolm and company should be fired for either ineptitude or for wasting taxpayer money, take your pick.

  • Sherrie

    This headline is such a joke! The Milwaukee DA lost their case in court so they try with the help of local media to smear the Governor Scott Walker. No charges were ever made because no law was ever broken. Trust me if they had something the would of loved to have arrest Scott Walker but they had nothing. This investigation was so biased because the DA never ever investigated the Unions or Tom Barrett or the Democrats to see if there was any thing illegal going on there. Once again like with the IRS scandal only Conservative were targeted. It makes me feel we no longer live in a free society, it’s down right scary to me.

  • Bob

    There is nothing more evil or horrifying then when a republican comes in and cleans up the democrats mess. Thank goodness John Chisholm is doing such a great job keeping law and order in Milwaukee county.

  • grunt

    Perhaps if Milwaukee County’s DA would have put the same effort towards prosecuting the violent criminals that prey on the black community there wouldn’t be so many shootings.
    It appears as if Milwaukee County’s DA and so many liberals don’t really care about the black victims of crime.

  • Ron

    “The prosecutors failed to show evidence of probable cause that a crime had been committed, Judge Peterson wrote, because the political groups engaged exclusively in issue advocacy, which is protected by the First Amendment. “Before there is coordination, there must be political purposes,” the judge wrote. “Without political purposes, coordination is not a crime.”

    R.J. Johnson is on record that he bragged he ran WiCFG. R.J. Johnson is and has been Scott Walker’s political strategist. Deborah Jordahl also works for Scott Walker and with R. J. Johnson as an assistant political co-ordinator, fundraiser. Deborah Jordahl writes the checks for WiCFG (from the released documents). So, how can Judge Peterson dismiss political purpose from the equation when these two political strategists are working for BOTH Scott Walker AND involved in running WiCFG. Also, how can an organization be represented as dealing in only “issue advocacy” when two of the main players for that organization are on Scott Walkers payroll as re-election staff members?

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