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Liberal group looking to take Wisconsin’s John Doe national

By   /   February 19, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 26 of 137 in the series Wisconsin's Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Still think politics has nothing do with a taxpayer-funded, Democrat-driven investigation into conservatives connected to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker?

Enter Brad Woodhouse, former Democratic National Committee spokesman turned president of American Bridge 21st Century, the Hillary Clinton-attached left-leaning political action committee.

In a “memo” sent out Tuesday afternoon, Woodhouse beats the old Democratic Party drum, drudging up allegations from a long and winding secret investigation that finally ended with six convictions, four of those not in any way related to the original reason for the probe.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR? National Liberal "research" group American Bridge launched another attack on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. This time American Bridge is pointing at Wisconsin's controversial John Doe investigations, politically charged probes go after conservatives.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR? National Liberal “research” group American Bridge launched another attack on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. This time American Bridge is pointing at Wisconsin’s controversial John Doe investigations, politically charged probes go after conservatives.

Remember where Woodhouse is coming from. He leads liberal super PAC American Bridge, an opposition-research juggernaut, as described by Politico.  He also is president of Americans United for Change, the progressive issue-advocacy group.

American Bridge’s offshoot, Correct the Record, as you may recall, late last year launched its first political salvo in its war on potential GOP candidates for president in 2016, putting Walker squarely in its crosshairs.

While in his memo Woodhouse makes a passing note that the nearly 3-year-old John Doe investigation ended without any charges of wrongdoing lodged against Walker, he strikes up the left-wing conspiracy band again, playing the same old Democratic Party tune.

“… (Walker) still paid thousands in legal defense fees related to the investigation. Now, mere months after the first three-year long investigation was closed, there is a second John Doe investigation related to spending and coordination of outside groups in Walker’s 2011 recall election,” Woodhouse declares.

That second John Doe is the same meandering, multi-county probe launched, again, by the Democrat-led Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office. It’s the same court-administered dragnet that has orchestrated pre-dawn raids at the home of conservative targets, only to have several of its subpoenas quashed by the presiding judge in the case, who ruled the prosecution did not show evidence to support its allegations.

Wringing out his wet conspiracy wash cloth, Woodhouse goes back to the first John Doe.

“On Wednesday, new documents resulting from the John Doe investigation into Walker’s Milwaukee County Executive administration will be released,” Woodhouse writes in an email.

He is, of course, referring to the court-ordered release of the private emails of Kelly Rindfleisch, who served as deputy chief of staff for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive.

The investigation, launched in May 2010 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, began after Walker’s staff discovered discrepancies in a county fund for veterans. County executive employee Darlene Wink, who first found the shortage, was eventually convicted for campaigning for Walker on government time.

A civil rights lawsuit filed last week by the target of the latest John Doe, asserts the first probe was nothing more than a politically driven “fishing expedition”  intent on bringing down Walker for his political successes.

“… (T)he Milwaukee County Attorney’s Office decided to use a John Doe proceeding to investigate the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office as a means of influencing the 2010 election in which Scott Walker was a candidate for Governor,” the lawsuit alleges.

As recently reported in Wisconsin Reporter:

The first John Doe investigation concluded with the convictions of two men Walker had hoped would be investigated in the case of the missing veterans funds. Kevin Kavanaugh, treasurer of the veterans fund, and Walker former aide Timothy Russell were found guilty of embezzlement. Russell’s domestic partner, Brian Pierick, got caught up in the dragnet after investigators found damning images on the couple’s home computer. Pierick was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $2,148 fine for contributing to the delinquency of a child. He had been charged with one count of child endangerment and another count of exposing his genitals for an alleged online sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male. Pierick reportedly believed the 17-year-old to be of consenting age.

But in its wide net, the John Doe investigation captured three others on convictions unrelated to the veterans fund. The CEO of a Wisconsin railroad company got two years of probation for exceeding campaign contribution limits in support of Walker’s run for governor, as well as laundering campaign contributions through employees and associates. Walker’s campaign promptly returned the contributions. As the lawsuit points out, the conviction had nothing to do with the original intent of the John Doe investigation.

Neither did the conviction of Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked in Walker’s county executive office. She was sentenced to six months in jail on a misconduct conviction for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system, according to the prosecution. She is appealing that decision. Last week, a Milwaukee County judge ordered the release of all of Rindfleisch’s professional and personal emails.

Rindfleisch agreed to a plea deal because she said she lacked the funds to mount a legal defense and hoped to “avoid jail time to care for her 88-year-old, ailing mother,” according to the lawsuit.

Sources tell Wisconsin Reporter that Rindfleisch’s home was raided again during the latest John Doe probe into conservative organizations.

Wink, the county executive employee who first reported the discrepancy in the veterans fund, was convicted on two misdemeanors for campaigning for Walker on government time.

“As with Rindfleisch, (Wink’s) conviction is the result of prosecutors turning peoples’ lives upside down in a politically motivated fishing expedition,” the civil rights lawsuit asserts.

Now Woodhouse and his ilk are hoping to fire up the Democratic Party “shame” machine in advance of the release of the Rindfleisch emails.

“How much involvement did Walker have in the mixing of county government and campaign business by his staff?” Woodhouse’s memo asks. “Did Walker himself use the ‘secret email network’? Did he ever use it to direct his staff to conduct campaign business on government time?”

.

FOR REAL: Democrats don’t see the Wisconsin governor, best known for his public-sector collective bargaining reforms, as just some Republican dark horse. They see him as a bona fide threat.

Of course, Woodhouse knows the answers to those question.: The investigation would not have ended without charges against the then-Milwaukee County executive had those emails, reviewed through the John Doe process, found Walker had done anything illegal.

But why let the facts get in the way of politics.

Woodhouse’s group has made it clear it is hungry to go after Walker, seen as a growing threat on the national stage in 2016, even as the first-term Republican governor runs for re-election in November.

Politico senior political reporter Maggie Haberman said the choice of Walker as the hit group’s first target is interesting.

“Slamming Walker gets Correct the Record a political hat-trick — they get to try to ding him for two elections, and to elevate him in name recognition in a GOP presidential primary battle in which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seen as a strong front-runner,” Haberman wrote in a Nov. 27 piece.

In short, the Clinton machine’s early attack on Walker shows national Democrats don’t see the Wisconsin governor, best known for his public-sector collective bargaining reforms, as just some Republican dark horse. They see him as a bona fide threat.

With Christie’s star falling in the wake of “Bridgegate,” American Bridge and its like-minded, well-coordinated friends would seem more interested than ever in going after Scott Walker.

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org

Part of 137 in the series Wisconsin's Secret War
  1. Sources: Secret probe targeting conservatives is abuse of prosecutorial powers
  2. Scary! Phantom prosecutor in Dems’ war on conservatives disappears inside courthouse
  3. EXCLUSIVE: Judge in Democrat-led John Doe probe recuses herself
  4. Democrats’ ‘intelligence-gathering’ spreads in Wisconsin
  5. Democrats tap anti-terror expert to head secret probe of Wisconsin conservatives
  6. Sheriff Clarke: John Doe case shows Milwaukee DA is ‘weaponized for political purposes’
  7. Clarke: John Doe into conservatives ‘unbridled,’ ‘dangerous’ and ‘tainted’
  8. Sources: New judge named in Democrat-led secret probe
  9. Vendetta justice? Criticism growing about John Doe prosecutor Bruce Landgraf
  10. Will Wisconsin’s own ‘Miserable’ inspector jail conservative activist for speaking out about Dem probe?
  11. Conservative targets bring in big guns to Democrat-led John Doe fight
  12. ‘Dangerous’ game: Former FEC official blasts Democrats’ secret investigation of conservative groups
  13. Center for Media and Democracy: Liberals are morally superior
  14. Wisconsin Dems suddenly support political investigations
  15. WI Republican attorney general to represent judges in Democrat-led John Doe probe
  16. Republicans speak out about silent John Doe targeting conservatives
  17. Biggest secret in John Doe may be just how judges and special prosecutors are selected
  18. WSJ: John Doe judge deals body blow to secret probe targeting conservatives
  19. Vos: Wait until John Doe in ‘rearview mirror’ before revisiting law
  20. Lawsuits looming in Wisconsin’s crumbling John Doe probe?
  21. Conservative to Democrat prosecutors: Shut down secret political probe or face civil rights lawsuit
  22. John Doe target O’Keefe taking on IRS, too
  23. Lawmaker: Wisconsin’s John Doe like Christie’s ‘Bridgegate’
  24. Target files civil rights lawsuit against Wisconsin’s John Doe prosecutors
  25. Disparate treatment: Civil rights lawsuit claims conservative speech trampled
  26. Liberal group looking to take Wisconsin’s John Doe national
  27. John Doe judge: ‘Results of the John Doe speak for themselves’
  28. John Doe special prosecutor appeals judge’s ruling quashing subpoenas
  29. John Doe prosecutor pushed for brain-damaged man’s conviction in ATF debacle
  30. Conservatives counterpunch John Doe prosecutors’ move to stall injunction
  31. Shadowy John Doe investigator invokes federalism in civil rights lawsuit
  32. John Doe prosecutors wanted higher-priced lawyers, source says
  33. Secret agent Dean Nickel’s defense: ‘Dean Nickel is not responsible’
  34. D’oh! John Doe prosecutors claim secrecy protection – after filing secret documents
  35. Recusal in John Doe case raises questions of fairness, purpose
  36. Absolute immunity makes it tough to prosecute the prosecutors of John Doe
  37. Poll suggests Dems’ big ‘secret’ weapon against Walker is backfiring
  38. ‘Easy target': Kelly Rindfleisch breaks silence about John Doe probe
  39. SCOTUS ruling on campaign finance shows abuse of John Doe, targets say
  40. Nobody will say what John Doe’s shadow man did, but taxpayers are paying his legal bill
  41. Judge denies John Doe prosecutors’ move to dismiss civil rights suit
  42. Civil rights expert: John Doe law is ‘un-American,’ like something from ‘Nazi Germany’
  43. Target: John Doe prosecutors making up campaign law as they go along
  44. John Doe, as it is being used, must go, WI senator says
  45. John Doe target says prosecutors latest move another delay tactic
  46. John Doe prosecutors sound defensive in latest court filings
  47. Federal judge denies John Doe prosecutors’ motion to stall civil rights case
  48. Media coalition asks judge to open sealed John Doe documents
  49. Are John Doe prosecutors sweating out federal judge’s decision?
  50. John Doe is dead: Judge stops WI prosecutors’ probe into conservatives
  51. This is what the Fourth Amendment looks like?
  52. What’s next for now-defunct John Doe probe?
  53. Appeals court stalls judge’s order halting John Doe probe
  54. Federal judge’s ruling could open up sealed John Doe records
  55. Federal judge orders John Doe probe shut down again
  56. Lawmakers call for review of GAB’s secret John Doe activities, funds
  57. Lawyers, lawyers everywhere and other dispatches from John Doe Land
  58. Secret’s out: The world is beginning to learn more about WI’s John Doe
  59. Still their little secret? Questions remain on John Doe gag order
  60. Appeals Court declares portions of Wisconsin campaign finance law unconstitutional
  61. John Doe prosecutors suddenly support opening sealed court records
  62. Expert: It’s as if GAB decided ‘Citizens United didn’t exist’
  63. John Doe prosecutors voice phony outrage, legal source says
  64. GAB still reviewing court ruling declaring WI campaign finance law unconstitutional
  65. State Farm still doesn’t want to cover John Doe prosecutor’s legal bills
  66. For the Walker-hating left, John Doe is ‘Mission Accomplished’
  67. Sources: No urgency in WI Supreme Court on John Doe
  68. Would Walker settlement with John Doe prosecutors be a deal with the devil?
  69. Contempt questions surround reported John Doe deal talks
  70. Walker’s John Doe response raises more questions than answers
  71. Sources: Attorney General passes on defending GAB in John Doe cases
  72. Attorney to judge: Don’t let John Doe prosecutor ‘moot’ injunction
  73. John Doe targets sue Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board
  74. Federal judge says his order halting John Doe probe should be clear to prosecutor
  75. John Doe special prosecutor’s bill still shrouded in secrecy
  76. ‘Are these kind of armed pre-dawn raids standard operating procedure?’
  77. John Doe special prosecutor obeys judge’s order
  78. ‘Never-ending’ John Doe never ended, WSJ reports
  79. Appeals court upholds judge’s order shutting down John Doe probe
  80. O’Keefe keeps collecting big wins in John Doe lawsuit
  81. John Doe I judge says he’s not responsible for John Doe II
  82. Will taxpayers have to pay for frivolity of John Doe prosecutors?
  83. John Doe prosecutors jump back into the dark?
  84. What about those prosecutors? Questions surround other John Doe DAs
  85. Humiliated in court, WI Dems take their anti-conservative John Doe probe to the media
  86. Federal judge blasts John Doe prosecutors – again – as he denies records release
  87. Right on cue: Document dump fuels anti-Walker donation drive
  88. Wall Street Journal points out ‘disgrace’ of mainstream John Doe reporting
  89. Expert: John Doe raids raise ‘troubling’ Fourth Amendment questions
  90. Kelly Rindfleisch tells conservatives, ‘Don’t back down’
  91. Mainstream media forced to walk back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ narrative
  92. John Doe prosecutors engaged in premature justification, conservatives say
  93. Is John Doe probe a case of a mini NSA in Wisconsin?
  94. AG opinion means accountability board’s John Doe secrets are safe — for now
  95. Senator asks attorney general to compel GAB to open up its books
  96. GAB now playing secrets in state John Doe lawsuit
  97. Will John Doe prosecutors launch lengthy probe against Trek Bicycle?
  98. John Doe prosecutors engaged in war of words — lots and lots of words
  99. Judge denies conservatives’ request to add GAB to civil rights lawsuit
  100. Oral arguments set in John Doe prosecutors’ appeal
  101. In John Doe Land, the left doesn’t illegally coordinate
  102. John Doe document blitz must have broken mainstream media’s heart
  103. Senator: Looks like accountability board is hiding something
  104. Kelly Rindfleisch appeal to test validity of John Doe digital searches
  105. Conservatives in John Doe battle know disclosure comes with a heavy price
  106. Appeals court orders release of some John Doe documents
  107. Taxpayers on the hook up to $25,000 for GAB’s legal maneuvers
  108. Overheated media erroneously bring back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ theme
  109. ‘Retaliation': Docs show state prosecutors launched mini-NSA probe of WI conservatives
  110. John Doe prosecutors take desperate, unethical slap
  111. Walker ‘smoking gun’ story has tiny glaring flaw
  112. Wisconsin prosecutors aim to shut down conservatives
  113. Conservatives appeal to common sense in John Doe appeals case
  114. Conservatives say ‘incorrect disclosure’ of John Doe docs no ‘tiny error’
  115. First Amendment big guns back targets of John Doe probe
  116. Was John Doe judge a rubber stamp?
  117. $25,000 and counting: WI taxpayers’ bill so far to defend GAB and its ‘monster’
  118. Another blow for Wisconsin’s restrictive campaign finance law
  119. Wisconsin prosecutors appeal for protection from blowback in partisan probe
  120. Is John Doe story colored with a bit of ‘Macbeth?’
  121. GAB director says agency just following the law in John Doe probe
  122. Kelly Rindfleisch: Where are the tears for the kids the Milwaukee school system failed?
  123. Rindfleisch attorney: Appeals court can protect the Fourth Amendment in Digital Age
  124. Source: Wisconsin Supreme Court doesn’t want political heat of John Doe case
  125. Appeals court reverses John Doe injunction, but Wisconsin’s secret war far from over
  126. A whistleblower’s story: Taking on a ‘hyper-partisan’ district attorney
  127. Conservative O’Keefe seeks investigation into John Chisholm and his John Doe
  128. Who’s paying the bill? Report casts questions on GAB and John Doe payments
  129. Target of secret John Doe probe is fighting back and speaking out
  130. The day John Doe rushed through the door
  131. Rindfleisch: ‘Rape’ not too strong a word for how violated John Doe targets feel
  132. Conservative group asks court to stop John Doe ‘constitutional injury’
  133. Conservatives to appeals court: ‘You don’t know Doe’
  134. Armed and growing: Milwaukee County DA beefs up his ‘police force’
  135. Federal judge stops John Doe prosecutors from bothering conservative group
  136. Wisconsin Supreme Court takes another pass on John Doe case
  137. No surprise: Bice buries the lead, Walker follows the law

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.

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