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Prosecutors: Gov. Walker part of 'criminal scheme'

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:44:50 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2014 08:15:07 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker is calling accusations made by prosecutors that he was involved in a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate campaign fundraising and spending, "categorically false."

The accusations were made in court documents filed last year in a previously secret "John Doe" investigation of conservative groups in Wisconsin and possible coordination with Walker's campaign.  Wisconsin Club for Growth, as well as Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Citizens for a Strong America had challenged the investigation in court and a federal judge blocked it last month.

Walker answered questions on the issue from reporters following events in Milwaukee Thursday afternoon, but released a strongly worded statement Thursday evening.

"The accusation of any wrongdoing written in the complaint by the office of a partisan Democrat District Attorney by me or by my campaign is categorically false," said Walker in the statement.  "This is nothing more than a partisan investigation with no basis in state law.  It's time for the prosecutors to acknowledge both judge’s orders to end this investigation."

Walker noted that two judges, a state and a federal judge, have ruled to stop the investigation.

"To me it's one of those where you can speculate about things like that but in the end people who are in the judicial process, objective, removed from me or the legislature made it clear at the state and federal level they didn't believe there was a case here," said Walker.

An appeals court judge unsealed 268 documents related to the investigation Thursday after the groups that brought the lawsuit did not object.

"The investigation focuses on a wide-ranging scheme to coordinate activities of several organizations with various candidate committees to thwart attempts to recall Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial candidates," special prosecutor Francis Schmitz said in the filing. "That coordination included a nationwide effort to raise undisclosed funds for an organization which then funded the activities of other organizations supporting or opposing candidates subject to a recall."

One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election.

In it, prosecutors allege a "criminal scheme" to coordinate fundraising and spending by the governor and two of his top deputies, R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl.

Prosecutors said Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove. Documents detail an email allegedly sent by Walker to Rove in May 2011.

"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin.  We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9 Congressional markets in every market in the state," Walker allegedly told Rove.

"I don’t know what specifically they're talking about but I can't imagine that," Walker responded in Milwaukee when asked by a reporter if he had emailed Rove.

So far no judge has agreed with prosecutors that there is a reason for the John Doe investigation to continue.  State Reserve Judge Gregory Peterson concluded that Schmitz hadn't proven a crime was committed.

Federal Judge Rudolph Randa went even further, issuing an injunction to stop the investigation, return property and destroy information. 

"The plaintiffs have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted," said Randa in his May ruling.

That decision is being appealed by prosecutors and is being considered by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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