Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scott Walker - 'John Doe, Part II'

Here we go again.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office is back digging, searching for something, anything, to smear Scott Walker.

The Democrats are apparently so desperate that they think it's necessary to resort to harassment, a fishing expedition targeting conservatives and conservative groups, in order to have any hope of defeating Walker in 2014.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Americans learned in the IRS political targeting scandal that government enforcement power can be used to stifle political speech. Something similar may be unfolding in Wisconsin, where a special prosecutor is targeting conservative groups that participated in the battle over Governor Scott Walker's union reforms.

In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.

Copies of two subpoenas we've seen demand "all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications" both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

One subpoena also demands "all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation." In other words, tell us who your donors are.

The probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, though no one will publicly claim credit for appointing Mr. Schmitz, the special prosecutor. The investigation is taking place under Wisconsin's John Doe law, which bars a subpoena's targets from disclosing its contents to anyone but his attorneys. John Doe probes work much like a grand jury, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches, while the gag orders leave the targets facing the resources of the state with no way to publicly defend themselves.

...The first public reference appeared in an October 21 blog post by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mr. Bice is well known for his Democratic sources.

The kitchen-sink subpoenas deserve skepticism considering their subject and targets. The disclosure of conservative political donors has become a preoccupation of the political left across the country. In the heat of the fight over Governor Walker's reforms, unions urged boycotts of Walker contributors and published a list of Walker donors for boycotting.

The subpoena demand for the names of donors to nonprofit groups that aren't legally required to disclose them is especially troubling.

...Another reason for skepticism is the probe's timing as Mr. Walker's 2014 re-election campaign looms. This is the second such investigation against Mr. Walker in three and a half years, following one that began in the office of Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm in spring 2010.
This is really sickening.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett tried to use "John Doe, Part I" against Walker as he tried, for the third time, to be elected Wisconsin's governor. We all know how that worked out for dismal failure as Milwaukee's mayor Barrett - failure as the Dem gubernatorial candidate.

Perhaps the probe will turn up some nefarious activity that warrants this subpoena monsoon and home raids. But in the meantime the effect is to limit political speech by intimidating these groups from participating in the 2014 campaign. Stifling allies of Mr. Walker would be an enormous in-kind contribution to Democrats. Even if no charges are filed, the subpoenas will have served as a form of speech suppression.

The Dems are back to their old playbook, right on schedule.

Whether or not charges are filed isn't the issue of this carefully timed investigation. What matters is that again conservatives are being intimidated and harassed, and political speech is being limited as this latest witch hunt plays out.

It's disgraceful and, sadly, totally predictable.


Lawsuit: No basis for anti-Walker ‘John Doe’ probe