Home  >  Wisconsin  >  ‘Never-ending’ John Doe never ended, WSJ reports

‘Never-ending’ John Doe never ended, WSJ reports

By   /   June 9, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 78 of 121 in the series Wisconsin's Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — They never stopped going after Scott Walker.

That’s the assertion of a conservative target of a politically charged John Doe investigation — the latest John probe that, according to the Wall Street Journal, is indistinguishable from a first court-administered dragnet into the Republican governor and his former aides and associates.

Or, as the Journal put it in a piece published on Sunday, “New sign, same bad food.”

.

REMAIN SILENT: It appears the John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s former aides and associates never really ended, according to a new Wall Street Journal editorial.

A court document obtained by the newspaper’s editorial board shows the presiding judge in what has been billed as “John Doe I,” authorized Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to “roll all information” from that secret investigation into a “new proceeding while maintaining all documents under the ‘existing’ secrecy order.”

That investigation was supposed to have closed in March 2013. The end of “John Doe I” precipitated a liberal gnashing of teeth over the prosecutors’ inability to indict the Wisconsin left’s top nemesis — Walker.

It seems, Chisholm and company were just getting warmed up.

Milwaukee Assistant DA David Robles, according to the order from Judge Neal Nettesheim obtained by the Wall Street Journal, “requested that the John Doe Judge permit the use and disclosure of information developed in the course of these proceedings.” Nettesheim’s order also provides that the district attorney’s office may “use and disclose information” from the first Doe “in order to conduct an investigation into the violations that . . . will form the basis of the investigation of a new John Doe proceeding.”

That it did.

Chisholm, Robles and fellow Milwaukee County Assistant DA Bruce Landgraf hooked up with John Doe special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to go after dozens of conservative organizations the prosecutors believed were illegally coordinating with Walker’s campaign during the state’s partisan recall elections.

The previously believed sequel, according to the latest Wall Street Journal piece, it turns out is really just one long, bad movie. A horror film for the targets who have had their lives turned upside down during and after what sources have described as pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style raids” on their homes and property.

The document obtained by the Wall Street Journal also reveals John Doe I was “enlarged no fewer than 18 times over two and a half years.”

For what?

Well, the secret probe began in May 2010, looking into the pilfering of a veterans fund established through Walker’s office, who was, at the time, Milwaukee County executive. It was a Walker staff member who first reported a discrepancy in the funds to the Milwaukee County DA.

As the Wall Street Journal described it, the investigation became a “kitchen-sink probe” into Walker’s staff and campaign. After a lengthy, meandering search, the investigation concluded — or at least that’s what prosecutors told the public — with six convictions, four of which had nothing to do with the original intent of the probe.

“So rather than enlarge their investigation for the 19th time, the prosecutors ‘closed’ it and reopened under new management,” the Journal reported. “New sign, same bad food.”

Longtime conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, in February filed a civil rights lawsuit against the prosecutors and an investigator by the name of Dean Nickel, contracted by the state Government Accountability Board.

In early May, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa, the judge overseeing the federal lawsuit, ordered the John Doe probe, “John Doe II,” as it has been billed, shut down. Randa also said the prosecutors’ legal theory on illegal coordination is “simply wrong.”

O’Keefe’s lead council, David B. Rivkin Jr., declined comment on the Wall Street Journal piece.

A legal expert with knowledge of the investigation, however, told Wisconsin Reporter that the prosecutors’ reported secret dealings seems “par for the course.”

“There are so many warts in this investigation that even the evidence of bias and lying is not the worst part of it,” said the expert, who asked to not be identified due to proximity to the matter. “The worst thing is the Government Accountability Board’s involvement.”

Late last month, O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth filed a lawsuit against the Government Accountability Board, the overseer of state election and campaign law, claiming the GAB “exceeded its statutory authority and evaded its statutory obligations by pursuing and funding a far-reaching criminal investigation into virtually every conservative-leaning group in Wisconsin.”

“In a calculated power grab, the GAB has improperly used a John Doe proceeding to explore speculative criminal theories of campaign finance law without challenge by the accused or scrutiny of the public,” the lawsuit alleges, referencing the strict gag ordered placed on the investigation.

The complaint, also filed on behalf of taxpayers, asserts the GAB’s “illegitimate and unauthorized participation in the John Doe proceeding has come at significant expense to taxpayers.”

O’Keefe’s complaint includes information showing the GAB appointed Schmitz as a special investigator before former John Doe presiding Judge Barbara A. Kluka (who recused herself without explanation last October) appointed Schmitz as special prosecutor of the five-county probe in August 2013.

Perhaps more galling to the multiple individuals sworn to secrecy in John Doe I is, sources tell Wisconsin Reporter, that the secrecy order for that probe, launched more than four years ago, remains in effect. Those who violate the order could face jail time.

“By the way, Judge Nettesheim says he’s in favor of lifting the secrecy order on the first John Doe in cases when state prosecutors need to defend themselves against criticism, such as a separate federal lawsuit that Mr. O’Keefe has filed,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board piece states.

“Nice of him to tell us now. His secrecy order allowed prosecutors to do selective leaking to friendly journalists until our editorials exposed the government’s constitutional abuses,” the Journal adds, presumably referring to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s investigative reporters, whom conservatives claim received inside information from prosecutors or individuals close to the Milwaukee County DA’s office.

Nettesheim did not return a phone call from Wisconsin Reporter seeking comment. Prosecutors repeatedly have declined to comment.

In February, following the dump of thousands of documents pertaining to Walker’s former aide Kelly Rindfleisch, Nettescheim told Wisconsin Reporter that the first John Doe is closed. Apparently not so much.

“The John Doe is closed and the results of the John Doe speak for themselves in terms of who has allegedly committed a crime, who has been charged with a crime and who has been convicted of a crime,” Nettesheim told Wisconsin Reporter.

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

Part of 121 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

Click here to LEARN HOW TO STEAL OUR STUFF!

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.