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Right on cue: Document dump fuels anti-Walker donation drive

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Part 87 of 123 in the series Wisconsin's Secret War

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Not long after news broke of a court-ordered records release related to the politically charged John Doe investigation, wouldn’t you know it: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin had its hand out looking for campaign contributions.

Shortly after Thursday’s massive document dump, the mouth of the Wisconsin left, DPW chairman Mike Tate, was begging for donations to “Stop Walker from buying this election.”

The cover charge to the party: $5, $35, $50, $100.

Yep, Democrats are trying to make political hay on the unsealed court documents tied to a federal lawsuit against the prosecutors of the secret investigation into dozens of conservative groups.

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HAND OUT: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Thursday made the court-debunked John Doe investigation a fundraising cry.

And Tate and crew, of course, don’t mind stretching the truth all the way to the bank.

The fundraising appeal says the newly released documents show prosecutors targeting Gov. Scott Walker “due to his involvement in a nationwide criminal scheme to coordinate with outside groups in an attempt to buy the recall election of 2012.”

Not quite.

The nearly two-year-old “John Doe investigation” launched by Democrat Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been investigating dozens of conservative organizations and Friends of Scott Walker, the governor’s campaign. The probe, bound by a court-issued secrecy order, has operated under the prosecutors’ theory that the conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s campaign during the state’s partisan recall election drives.

What Tate fails to mention is that two judges, John Doe presiding judge Gregory Peterson and U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa, have shot holes in the campaign-finance theory, with Randa declaring it “simply wrong.”

The federal judge, presiding over a civil rights lawsuit filed by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, early last month shut down the probe. And the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the same court that ordered the release of previously sealed documents, last month declared unconstitutional the portion of campaign finance law that involves issue advocacy, the mode of protected political speech in which the conservative targets were engaged.

Walker took aim at Chisholm in a statement blasting what he said are false accusations.

“This is nothing more than a partisan investigation with no basis in state law,” Walker said in the heated statement. “It’s time for the prosecutors to acknowledge both judge’s (Sic) orders to end this investigation.”

In a recent court filing, Peterson wrote that if his decision quashing several of the subpoenas issued in the John Doe probe is upheld at the state Supreme Court, the “ultimate and inevitable consequence will be to terminate” the investigation.

“It seems rather incongruous for the State to continue to examine documents based on an interpretation of the law that I have ruled is invalid,” Peterson said of the prosecutors, who noted he is amending the stay of his original order to include that while the stay is in effect, the prosecutors “shall not examine any material secured from any source by legal process such as subpoena or search warrant.”

The Democrats’ Tate then goes on to stretch the truth beyond repair.

“Walker even went so far as to brag to Karl Rove about his illegal coordination,” Tate writes in the fundraising appeal.

John Doe prosecutors and the Government Accountability Board, which oversees state election and campaign finance laws, worked the theory that Walker’s camp and the conservative groups were illegally coordinating. That theory, to date, has been debunked by the two judges who have said it seems very apparent that no campaign finance violations occurred.

“Bottom-line: R.J. Johnson (political strategist for Walker) helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker wrote to Rove in May 2011. “We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)”

Two problems: It’s hard to make a case for express advocacy and quid pro quo (political favor for favor), as the prosecutors have, when what Walker is talking about in the 2011 email to Rove are Senate recall elections, not his own. The left-led recall campaign against Walker occurred more than a year later in 2012.

And Randa in his order shutting down the probe said there is no illegal coordination where like-minded groups come together. If that were the case, conservatives contend, why didn’t Chisholm and crew go after left-leaning groups who coordinated political efforts?

O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth “have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted,” Randa wrote in his earlier ruling. “Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ingrained in our culture.”

Conservative targets are not surprised by the Democratic Party contribution appeal and the machine’s fast-and-loose play with the truth.

O’Keefe in his lawsuit contends the investigation, which featured pre-dawn, “paramilitary-style” raids on the homes of conservative targets, was a political witch hunt from the very beginning, partisan-prosecuted payback for the political victories the right has won in recent years in Wisconsin.

“Now my Democratic opponents will use these false accusations to distract from the issues important to the voters of Wisconsin,” Walker said in the statement.

Right on cue.

American Bridge 21st Century, the Hillary Clinton-attached left-leaning political action committee, jumped on the doc dump, luxuriating in the mainstream media’s headlines.

“(W)e know that Scott Walker is a direct subject of this investigation into potentially illegal coordination between Walker’s recall campaign and outside groups,” the PAC said in a release not long after the documents were made public. “More importantly, prosecutors are alleging that Walker’s campaign ‘tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law.”

Such closely timed releases from the Democratic Party and a liberal cause political action committee. Sounds like possible coordination.

Is a two-year John Doe probe in order?

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

Part of 123 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

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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.