By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — Earlier this year, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. urged county residents to be prepared to protect themselves. Confronted by budget cuts, law enforcement couldn’t be counted on to quickly serve and protect.
“With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,” Clarke said in the public service announcement that quickly went national. “You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared?”
Now, Clarke says, the same county officials who in 2012 laid off 42 sheriff deputies in a department already shorthanded are on track to spend untold taxpayer dollars in a Democrat-run investigation into Wisconsin conservative groups.
“It appears to me that the prosecution out of Milwaukee County is becoming weaponized for political purposes,” the sheriff told Wisconsin Reporter on Tuesday.
Multiple sources close to the so-called John Doe probe have told Wisconsin Reporter that the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, led by Democrat John Chisholm, has targeted state conservatives and even such national groups as Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and the Republican Governors Association.
A question of priorities
Though gagged by provisions of subpoenas sought by Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf and others, several sources have told Wisconsin Reporter the manifold legal attack on nonprofit political organizations has included after-hours visits to homes and offices; confiscated equipment and files; and demands for phone, email and other records. The sources have asked to remain anonymous due to their proximity to the investigation or to people connected to it.
The investigation, dubbed John Doe Two, follows and reportedly may have drawn on evidence gleaned during John Doe One, a nearly three-year secret probe into former aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. That court-sanctioned dragnet ended with six convictions but no findings of wrongdoing by Walker.
Clarke said he respects Chisholm’s authority to pursue whatever investigation the DA deems appropriate, but he questions the Democrat’s choices. The sheriff said he hears from prosecutors all the time that they don’t have the resources to go after one criminal charge or another – drunken driving, online sexual predators, heroin cases – but they have the time to pursue what Clarke describes as open-ended political witch hunts.
“That’s what bothers me. We can’t get certain investigations prosecuted so where does the money come from for stuff like this?” Clarke said.
The answer to that question is unclear.
Wisconsin Reporter reported in March that the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office would not even estimate the cost of John Doe One.
In an email response to Wisconsin Reporter’s open-record request at the time, Milwaukee County Deputy District Attorney James J. Martin said that, unlike a private law firm that bills clients, district attorneys and their employees don’t keep time records for specific investigations or prosecutions.
“Likewise, we do not charge operating expenses in the county accounting and purchasing system to a particular investigation or prosecution,” Martin said.
In short, prosecutors don’t have to tell taxpayers how much time and money went into a particular investigation.
Janine Geske, a distinguished professor of law in Marquette University Law School and former state Supreme Court judge, said much of the expense of John Doe investigations are covered through normal operations.
“A big district attorney’s office like Milwaukee is always allocating time for prosecutors,” Geske said. “They don’t hire outside resources.”
But Wisconsin Reporter has confirmed through multiple sources that the latest John Doe has enlisted the services of a special prosecutor, former federal counterterrorism expert Francis Schmitz.
And the judge’s time as well as the court reporting involved don’t come free.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office booked total expenditures of $18,382,000 last year, according to the Milwaukee County Comptroller’s office. Local taxpayers were on the hook for more than $12 million of that. State taxpayers picked up about $3.5 million to pay the wages and benefits of the office’s 35 full-time equivalent prosecutors, and another $2.8 million was funded through grants, the comptroller said.
How much of that money went to John Doe I, or how much is going to John Doe II isn’t clear. Milwaukee County prosecutors have refused to talk about the super-secret investigations in any capacity; they are compelled by law not to.
Geske said in her experience on the bench she has found that party labels mean very little in the courtroom, that DA’s do a good job of keeping politics out of their work.
“My experience with prosecutors is they tend to be prosecutors not politicians,” the former judge said.
But Clarke has a different view of justice in Democrat-friendly Milwaukee County.
“I have to question the prioritization of what’s important in this county — to go after investigations that deal with serious crimes that affect everyday people or to spend money in these witch hunts in these obviously politically motivated investigations.”
Contact M.D. Kittle at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sources: Secret probe targeting conservatives is abuse of prosecutorial powers
- Scary! Phantom prosecutor in Dems’ war on conservatives disappears inside courthouse
- EXCLUSIVE: Judge in Democrat-led John Doe probe recuses herself
- Democrats’ ‘intelligence-gathering’ spreads in Wisconsin
- Democrats tap anti-terror expert to head secret probe of Wisconsin conservatives
- Sheriff Clarke: John Doe case shows Milwaukee DA is ‘weaponized for political purposes’
- Clarke: John Doe into conservatives ‘unbridled,’ ‘dangerous’ and ‘tainted’
- Sources: New judge named in Democrat-led secret probe
- Vendetta justice? Criticism growing about John Doe prosecutor Bruce Landgraf
- Will Wisconsin’s own ‘Miserable’ inspector jail conservative activist for speaking out about Dem probe?
- Conservative targets bring in big guns to Democrat-led John Doe fight
- ‘Dangerous’ game: Former FEC official blasts Democrats’ secret investigation of conservative groups
- Center for Media and Democracy: Liberals are morally superior
- Wisconsin Dems suddenly support political investigations
- WI Republican attorney general to represent judges in Democrat-led John Doe probe
- Republicans speak out about silent John Doe targeting conservatives
- Biggest secret in John Doe may be just how judges and special prosecutors are selected
- WSJ: John Doe judge deals body blow to secret probe targeting conservatives
- Vos: Wait until John Doe in ‘rearview mirror’ before revisiting law
- Lawsuits looming in Wisconsin’s crumbling John Doe probe?
- Conservative to Democrat prosecutors: Shut down secret political probe or face civil rights lawsuit
- John Doe target O’Keefe taking on IRS, too
- Lawmaker: Wisconsin’s John Doe like Christie’s ‘Bridgegate’
- Target files civil rights lawsuit against Wisconsin’s John Doe prosecutors
- Disparate treatment: Civil rights lawsuit claims conservative speech trampled
- Liberal group looking to take Wisconsin’s John Doe national
- John Doe judge: ‘Results of the John Doe speak for themselves’
- John Doe special prosecutor appeals judge’s ruling quashing subpoenas
- John Doe prosecutor pushed for brain-damaged man’s conviction in ATF debacle
- Conservatives counterpunch John Doe prosecutors’ move to stall injunction
- Shadowy John Doe investigator invokes federalism in civil rights lawsuit
- John Doe prosecutors wanted higher-priced lawyers, source says
- Secret agent Dean Nickel’s defense: ‘Dean Nickel is not responsible’
- D’oh! John Doe prosecutors claim secrecy protection – after filing secret documents
- Recusal in John Doe case raises questions of fairness, purpose
- Absolute immunity makes it tough to prosecute the prosecutors of John Doe
- Poll suggests Dems’ big ‘secret’ weapon against Walker is backfiring
- ‘Easy target': Kelly Rindfleisch breaks silence about John Doe probe
- SCOTUS ruling on campaign finance shows abuse of John Doe, targets say
- Nobody will say what John Doe’s shadow man did, but taxpayers are paying his legal bill
- Judge denies John Doe prosecutors’ move to dismiss civil rights suit
- Civil rights expert: John Doe law is ‘un-American,’ like something from ‘Nazi Germany’
- Target: John Doe prosecutors making up campaign law as they go along
- John Doe, as it is being used, must go, WI senator says
- John Doe target says prosecutors latest move another delay tactic
- John Doe prosecutors sound defensive in latest court filings
- Federal judge denies John Doe prosecutors’ motion to stall civil rights case
- Media coalition asks judge to open sealed John Doe documents
- Are John Doe prosecutors sweating out federal judge’s decision?
- John Doe is dead: Judge stops WI prosecutors’ probe into conservatives
- This is what the Fourth Amendment looks like?
- What’s next for now-defunct John Doe probe?
- Appeals court stalls judge’s order halting John Doe probe
- Federal judge’s ruling could open up sealed John Doe records
- Federal judge orders John Doe probe shut down again
- Lawmakers call for review of GAB’s secret John Doe activities, funds
- Lawyers, lawyers everywhere and other dispatches from John Doe Land
- Secret’s out: The world is beginning to learn more about WI’s John Doe
- Still their little secret? Questions remain on John Doe gag order
- Appeals Court declares portions of Wisconsin campaign finance law unconstitutional
- John Doe prosecutors suddenly support opening sealed court records
- Expert: It’s as if GAB decided ‘Citizens United didn’t exist’
- John Doe prosecutors voice phony outrage, legal source says
- GAB still reviewing court ruling declaring WI campaign finance law unconstitutional
- State Farm still doesn’t want to cover John Doe prosecutor’s legal bills
- For the Walker-hating left, John Doe is ‘Mission Accomplished’
- Sources: No urgency in WI Supreme Court on John Doe
- Would Walker settlement with John Doe prosecutors be a deal with the devil?
- Contempt questions surround reported John Doe deal talks
- Walker’s John Doe response raises more questions than answers
- Sources: Attorney General passes on defending GAB in John Doe cases
- Attorney to judge: Don’t let John Doe prosecutor ‘moot’ injunction
- John Doe targets sue Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board
- Federal judge says his order halting John Doe probe should be clear to prosecutor
- John Doe special prosecutor’s bill still shrouded in secrecy
- ‘Are these kind of armed pre-dawn raids standard operating procedure?’
- John Doe special prosecutor obeys judge’s order
- ‘Never-ending’ John Doe never ended, WSJ reports
- Appeals court upholds judge’s order shutting down John Doe probe
- O’Keefe keeps collecting big wins in John Doe lawsuit
- John Doe I judge says he’s not responsible for John Doe II
- Will taxpayers have to pay for frivolity of John Doe prosecutors?
- John Doe prosecutors jump back into the dark?
- What about those prosecutors? Questions surround other John Doe DAs
- Humiliated in court, WI Dems take their anti-conservative John Doe probe to the media
- Federal judge blasts John Doe prosecutors – again – as he denies records release
- Right on cue: Document dump fuels anti-Walker donation drive
- Wall Street Journal points out ‘disgrace’ of mainstream John Doe reporting
- Expert: John Doe raids raise ‘troubling’ Fourth Amendment questions
- Kelly Rindfleisch tells conservatives, ‘Don’t back down’
- Mainstream media forced to walk back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ narrative
- John Doe prosecutors engaged in premature justification, conservatives say
- Is John Doe probe a case of a mini NSA in Wisconsin?
- AG opinion means accountability board’s John Doe secrets are safe — for now
- Senator asks attorney general to compel GAB to open up its books
- GAB now playing secrets in state John Doe lawsuit
- Will John Doe prosecutors launch lengthy probe against Trek Bicycle?
- John Doe prosecutors engaged in war of words — lots and lots of words
- Judge denies conservatives’ request to add GAB to civil rights lawsuit
- Oral arguments set in John Doe prosecutors’ appeal
- In John Doe Land, the left doesn’t illegally coordinate
- John Doe document blitz must have broken mainstream media’s heart
- Senator: Looks like accountability board is hiding something
- Kelly Rindfleisch appeal to test validity of John Doe digital searches
- Conservatives in John Doe battle know disclosure comes with a heavy price
- Appeals court orders release of some John Doe documents
- Taxpayers on the hook up to $25,000 for GAB’s legal maneuvers
- Overheated media erroneously bring back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ theme
- ‘Retaliation': Docs show state prosecutors launched mini-NSA probe of WI conservatives
- John Doe prosecutors take desperate, unethical slap
- Walker ‘smoking gun’ story has tiny glaring flaw
- Wisconsin prosecutors aim to shut down conservatives
- Conservatives appeal to common sense in John Doe appeals case
- Conservatives say ‘incorrect disclosure’ of John Doe docs no ‘tiny error’
- First Amendment big guns back targets of John Doe probe
- Was John Doe judge a rubber stamp?
- $25,000 and counting: WI taxpayers’ bill so far to defend GAB and its ‘monster’
- Another blow for Wisconsin’s restrictive campaign finance law
- Wisconsin prosecutors appeal for protection from blowback in partisan probe
- Is John Doe story colored with a bit of ‘Macbeth?’
- GAB director says agency just following the law in John Doe probe
- Kelly Rindfleisch: Where are the tears for the kids the Milwaukee school system failed?
- Rindfleisch attorney: Appeals court can protect the Fourth Amendment in Digital Age
- Source: Wisconsin Supreme Court doesn’t want political heat of John Doe case
- Appeals court reverses John Doe injunction, but Wisconsin’s secret war far from over
- A whistleblower’s story: Taking on a ‘hyper-partisan’ district attorney
- Conservative O’Keefe seeks investigation into John Chisholm and his John Doe
- Who’s paying the bill? Report casts questions on GAB and John Doe payments
- Target of secret John Doe probe is fighting back and speaking out
- The day John Doe rushed through the door
- Rindfleisch: ‘Rape’ not too strong a word for how violated John Doe targets feel
- Conservative group asks court to stop John Doe ‘constitutional injury’
- Conservatives to appeals court: ‘You don’t know Doe’
- Armed and growing: Milwaukee County DA beefs up his ‘police force’
- Federal judge stops John Doe prosecutors from bothering conservative group
- Wisconsin Supreme Court takes another pass on John Doe case
- No surprise: Bice buries the lead, Walker follows the law
- Federalism v. individual rights: A conversation with Eric O’Keefe
- Report: No district attorney will investigate District Attorney John Chisholm
- Appeals court denies request to rehear John Doe civil rights case
- Voters say ‘yes’ to Walker, ‘no’ to John Doe, law expert says
- Vos: There will be reforms to John Doe, GAB
- GAB, Milwaukee County DA bail on key provision behind war on conservatives
- John Doe lawsuit could be headed to U.S. Supreme Court
- Kelly Rindfleisch will fight on in Fourth Amendment case
- John Doe froze conservative speech, targets say
- Conservatives to court: Open up records on GAB’s role in John Doe
- Did the GAB doctor documents to cover their tracks in John Doe?
- Wisconsin’s Van Hollen says goodbye to AG post, John Doe
- Rindfleisch appeals to Supreme Court in John Doe Fourth Amendment abuse case
- Audit: GAB has failed to follow the law
- Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up John Doe complaints
- ‘R word’ surfaces in wake of state Supreme Court taking up John Doe challenges
- GAB won’t say whether it has reauthorized its role in John Doe probe
- Rogue agency defied judges to carry out partisan probe of Wisconsin conservatives
- ‘Outside the … law’: Lawmakers call for investigation of GAB
- Attorney: GAB’s John Doe justifications don’t hold up to law
- Isn’t it ironic: Mainstream silence follows reports of secret GAB Gmail in John Doe
- GAB offers contradictory defense of its John Doe activities
- O’Keefe officially asks judge to open probe into John ‘Doe’ Chisholm
- State lawmakers look to investigate the GAB and its investigators
- One year ago, judge’s ruling shakes up John Doe probe
- Doe possessed: ‘They have information about every aspect of our lives’
- GAB plays victim card in ‘complicated’ John Doe, campaign finance farce
- Public defender asks Supreme Court to take up John Doe-related Fourth Amendment case
- GAB has a sudden change of heart on campaign finance reform
- O’Keefe takes his case against John Doe to U.S. Supreme Court