An Overview of Our 350+ Story Investigation

Wisconsin’s politically charged John Doe investigation is, at its core, a story about abuse—maybe one of the more stunning government abuse stories of our time. Launched by Milwaukee County’s Democrat district attorney more than three years ago, the shadowy probe into Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and dozens of conservative groups has been described as a political witch hunt.  Under Wisconsin’s unique John Doe procedure, a single judge vested with extraordinary power presides over the secret investigations. Targets and witnesses can go to jail for saying anything to anyone other than their attorneys about the investigation. Several targets have risked their freedom to tell their stories to Wisconsin Watchdog.

WISecretWar (1)And their stories are harrowing: Accounts of law enforcement engaged in predawn, paramilitary-style raids at the suburban homes of citizens, treated like drug dealers and gang bangers for alleged campaign finance crimes; children locked in rooms while agents rooted through the family’s possessions; targets told that they could not contact their attorneys during the broad searches and seizures; a prosecutorial spying operation, grabbing digital data from ISPs of untold conservative citizens, some who still have no idea they are or were targeted in the investigation.

Multiple courts have ruled the prosecutors did not have probable cause to engage in their exotic campaign finance theory, that the limited-government groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s campaign. Finally, on July 17 2015, after years of lengthy court battles, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found these investigations to be unconstitutional assaults on the rights of the accused and ordered them to be shut down. The court’s majority opinion stated that the investigation was “unsupported in either reason or law.”


Key Stories from Wisconsin Watchdog’s Coverage of the Investigation:

John Doe horror stories: ‘I felt completely helpless in my own home’

The day John Doe rushed through the door

Five years later: America just learning ‘tyrannical’ secrets of Wisconsin’s John Doe

Rogue agency defied judges to carry out partisan probe of Wisconsin conservatives

What happened to Kelly  Rindfleisch could happen to you

To see the full coverage of our 350+ part series, click here.


Our Wisconsin reporter, Matt Kittle, In the News:

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren – Wisconsin witch hunt?
Kittle explains the ongoing John Doe investigation in Wisconsin that targeted at least 29 conservative groups.

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren – Wisconsin campaign finance law ruled unconstitutional
Kittle speaks with Greta Van Susteren after the United States Court of Appeals declared parts of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law unconstitutional.

The Blaze TV – ‘For The Record’ investigates alleged political intimidation in Wisconsin
Kittle is featured on TheBlaze TV, to discuss his investigation into the series of political raids from the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office targeting Gov. Scott Walker. Kittle appears at the 37 second mark.

About the Author

M.D. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, he joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin. 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.” His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at [email protected]

Sign-up for our Wisconsin Watchdog email list to receive the latest news and in-depth coverage.

Republish our Work

Our work goes through a rigorous editing process before it’s published and is free for your news organization to use. That’s right, as a nonprofit news organization, Watchdog does not charge for its content; we only require attribution. Learn how to steal our stuff here.

Request an Interview

To learn more about our top-quality coverage, or to request an interview with a Watchdog reporter, contact Laurel Patrick at [email protected]