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Watchdog’s Scariest People of 2015: No. 2

By   /   January 1, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 24 of 25 in the series Watchdog's Scariest People of 2015

Now that Christmas is over and the New Year beckons, it’s time for Watchdog.org’s annual parade of malfeasance and miscreants.

The Scariest People of 2015 is a frightening list indeed, filled with bureaucrats and functionaries who, shall we say, do not share an affinity for liberty.

No one can stop them from plying their trade — bad government is as old as government. But we can keep an eye on them, report their misdeeds to the world and once in a while help the good guys win.

All week we’ve highlighted the most egregious examples of nanny statism, overweening bureaucracy and just plain old bad government from the past 12 months, encompassing local, state and federal officialdom.

Here’s No. 2.

Constitutional law expert Rick Esenberg has often said prosecutors should have a little voice inside their heads telling them when it’s time to quit. Francis Schmitz lacks that little voice.

The former special prosecutor of Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation may have many other voices in his head, but the one that tells him, “Sir, you have no evidence, no probable cause, nothing. Perhaps it’s time to stop,” has been missing in action.

Artist rendering by Watchdog.org

CARTOON GOON: Former John Doe special prosecutor Francis Schmitz just can’t quit his unconstitutional investigation targeting conservatives.

Fortunately, multiple courts have been that voice for Schmitz. Unfortunately, he hasn’t listened to them, either.

The former federal prosecutor was the hand-picked henchman of the soon-to-be-deceased state Government Accountability Board to lead the abusive campaign finance probe into dozens of conservative groups and the campaign of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Said investigation, as Wisconsin Watchdog exposed, included early-morning armed raids, a lengthy political spying operation and the seizure of 6 million-plus documents — all on a widely rejected theory of illegal campaign coordination.

John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson nearly two years ago told Schmitz to stop. A federal judge did the same in May 2014. Another federal court told Schmitz he could no longer pursue his unconstitutional investigation. And the state Supreme Court — twice — said enough is enough.

Schmitz persisted, even as the court earlier this month clarified that the special prosecutor was invalid from the inception of the probe.

Following the court’s ruling, Schmitz did acknowledge he made a miscalculation. Unrepentant to the end, he said his error was “underestimating the power and influence special interest groups have in Wisconsin politics.”

Then he insulted the targets he has intimidated and harassed for years.

“My career in the military and as a federal prosecutor fighting violent criminals and terrorists did not fully prepare me for the tactics employed by these special interest groups,” Schmitz said in a statement following the court ruling.

It would seem not even the state’s highest court has a silver bullet for this scariest of prosecutorial monsters.

Part of 25 in the series Watchdog's Scariest People of 2015


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.