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Supreme Cover-Up: How the Wisconsin Justice System Failed in the Walker John Doe

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Recent elections have turned the Wisconsin Supreme Court from "one of the nation's most respected state tribunals into a disgraceful mess," wrote noted author on the courts Lincoln Caplan in 2015.

The dysfunction is on full display in the documents revealed by the Guardian this week in its expose on the "John Doe" investigation into potentially illegal coordination between Scott Walker and dark money groups that were supposed to operate independently of his campaign. Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker John Doe Document Leak: 10 Illuminating Emails

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On September 14, the Guardian newspaper which published the Snowden revelation, published a massive set of documents from the Scott Walker dark money probe know as the "John Doe" investigation. We highly recommend the lengthy expose on secret money and backroom deals, which you can access here. If you don't have time to read all 1,500 emails and documents in the cache, our staff has picked out some of the most illuminating.

At the heart of the matter are three men. Scott Walker, RJ Johnson (who simultaneously worked for Walker and the dark money machine Wisconsin Club for Growth, say prosecutors) and Keith Gilkes who was Walker's chief of staff in 2011and his campaign manager in 2012. Prosecutors were investigating whether campaign money was channeled through a purportedly "independent group" in order to circumvent state and federal rules that set limits on political contributions and require them to be publicly revealed, explains the Guardian. Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker John Doe: Corporate Checks Fueled Coordinated Campaign

Documents released by the Guardian indicate that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker may have solicited and received corporate checks for the 2011 Senate recall fight and his own 2012 recall election.

The checks–cut from corporate treasuries, not granted by individuals–were deposited into the account of the dark money group Wisconsin Club for Growth, which prosecutors viewed as a "subcommittee" of Walker's campaign in violation of the statutes (11.10 (04)) as they were written at the time.

Moreover, it appears that Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature later took actions to benefit a number of these secret, corporate contributors and the public was none the wiser. Read the rest of this item here.

Secret Donors, Secret Agendas: Guardian Pulls Back the Curtain on Walker Corruption Probe

Image: Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0
A cache of documents released by the Guardian shed new light on how Governor Scott Walker, his top advisors and allies evaded Wisconsin's campaign finance system to win his recall election, and to maintain Republican control of the Wisconsin State Senate during the tumultuous recall period of 2011 and 2012.

The strategies pursued and measures taken were unprecedented in the State of Wisconsin and sparked a criminal investigation by a bipartisan group of prosecutors, the future of which is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The expose revealed that Walker fundraiser Kate Doner conducted detailed opposition research on donors whose contributions might prove embarrassing. Read the rest of this item here.

Big Win for Worker Rights and Workplace Safety

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This Labor Day, the 26 million workers who work for federal contractors really had something to celebrate.

President Obama issued the final rule implementing the historic Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces Executive Order which will make sure that federal contractors who repeatedly violate worker safety and labor laws will be held to account.

These new federal rules will require companies to disclose violations from the previous few years when bidding for each new major contract. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Coveted Records Exemption Wrong for Wisconsin

Over the July 4 weekend in 2015, members of the state Legislature sparked a public uproar by proposing last-minute changes to the state budget bill that would have created a "deliberative process" exception to Wisconsin’s long-cherished public records law. Government transparency advocates condemned the move, and the changes were hastily rescinded.
But the effort to shield records that are produced while crafting law and policy did not end there. The administration of Gov. Scott Walker continued to assert its ability to withhold these records under existing law. Read the rest of this item here.

The Independent "Women's" Voice? Most Known Donors Are Men

The Independent Women's Voice touts its "independent" brand in reaching potential voters.

But is it even women's voices it is throwing? Let alone independent women?

The reported data from the Federal Election Commission data says no. New research shows that the overwhelming majority of its known donors are men.

Very rich men.

Yes, men have provided most of the disclosed donations to fund election-related expenditures under the name of the "Independent Women's Voice." Read the rest of this item here.

New Koch-Funded Campaign to Kill the Electric Car and Squash Clean Energy

With reports out that every month so far in 2016 has been the hottest on record, it seems a little unbelievable that even the oil-rich Koch Brothers would have the audacity to launch a new multimillion dollar campaign to kill clean energy initiatives and promote the use of fossil fuels that are at the heart of the climate change crisis.

But launch they have in the from of a new organization called Fueling U.S. Forward — a cheeky double entendre presumably meant to inspire both national and personal pride in the glories of oil and gas. Read the rest of this item here.

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Exposed by CMD

Leaked Documents Show Court’s Dismissal of the John Doe Was Based on a False Premise

Remember 2015? It was just last year that the conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court embraced dark money and turned its back on the state's longstanding bedrock support for transparency in campaigns and elections.

In a controversial ruling that July, the Court voted 4-2 to shut down the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker's secret political fundraising scheme, arguing that coordination between Walker, his campaign consultants, and corporate lobby groups didn’t matter because it was all just "issue advocacy."

When the special prosecutor moved for reconsideration later that year, presenting evidence of express political advocacy, the court's conservative majority, led by Justice Gableman, promptly fired him. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Star State: the Kochs Flood Texas with Campaign Cash

Texas is a Red State. A really Red State. The Republican Party dominates every facet of government by a wide margin.

Despite this, recent Federal Election Committee (FEC) filings from the Koch Industries, Inc. Political Action Committee (KochPAC), show that the Kochs are flooding Texas elections with cash. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured SourceWatch Article is an interactive wiki website that depends on readers like you to improve content. If you want to help us grow SourceWatch with well documented research and become a volunteer editor, click here for more information.

Excerpts from longer SourceWatch article:


DonorsTrust (DT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit started in 1999 "to ensure the intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise."[1] Along with its supporting 509(a)(3) organization Donors Capital Fund (DCF), it is a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a coordinating body for conservative foundations founded by Whitney L. Ball, who passed away in 2015. Both funding organizations are "donor-advised funds," which means that the fund creates separate accounts for individual donors, and the donors then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. They cloak the identity of the original mystery donors because the funds are then distributed in the name of DT or DCF, contributing another step to what has been called a "murky money maze."[2]

Funding Climate Change Denial

DonorsTrust promises to only funnel money to groups with an extreme anti-environmental bent, so industrial billionaires need not worry about their money winding up at Greenpeace...

Read the entire SourceWatch page on the DonorsTrust here.


  1. DonorsTrust, Mission & Principles, organizational website, accessed December 2012.
  2. John Mashey, Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax 2, DeSmog Blog report, updated October 23, 2012, p. 19.

Editors' Pick

Fossil Fuel Industry Paid for Meetings with GOP Attorneys General to Plan Attack on Clean Power Plan

Fossil fuel giants Murray Energy and Southern Company paid for meetings with Republican attorneys general to discuss their opposition to the Clean Power Plan less than two weeks before the same GOP officials petitioned federal courts to block the Obama administration’s signature climate proposal, according to private emails (see below) from state attorneys general obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. The meetings took place at an August 2015 summit hosted by the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in West Virginia, where attendees were offered the opportunity to meet with GOP attorneys general in exchange for financial donations to help reelect the Republican state prosecutors.

Confidential documents also reveal that some of the GOP attorneys general again discussed “the future of the fight to stop the Clean Power Plan” at a meeting this past April. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured Video

Arizona's NBC 12 and CMD Expose ALEC's Corporate Influence on State Laws

Sunday Square Off, December 9, 2015
Phoenix Arizona's NBC affiliate KPNX hosted the Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves on the December 6 episode of "Sunday Square Off" to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) effort to push corporate backed model legislation in state legislatures.

Koch Exposed

Follow the Money!

The Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of ALEC Exposed, brings you this unique wiki resource on the billionaire industrialists and the power and influence of the Koch cadre and Koch cash.

Read about Koch Funding Vehicles:

Visit Koch Exposed for more.

Sign up for news and updates from the Center for Media and Democracy

We Track Corporations and PR Spin

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch to track corporations.
  • We provide well-documented information about corporate public relations (PR) campaigns, including corporate front groups, people who "front" corporate campaigns, and PR operations.
  • Dating back to when tobacco companies deployed doctors to try to prevent labeling of cancer-causing cigarettes, many corporations use the "tobacco playbook" to hide behind neutral-looking "experts" as well as think tanks or non-profits in their efforts to influence or distort public policy to protect their bottom line or agenda--often a narrow agenda at odds with the broader public interest.
  • This specialized encyclopedia watches those sources and provides detailed information about corporations and special interests, using the collaborative "wiki" platform, like Wikipedia.

CMD relies on concerned citizens like you to keep this research online. You can contribute here.

Please visit SourceWatch's sister websites PRWatch, to read our original reporting, and ALECexposed, to see our award-winning investigation of a corporate front group where corporate lobbyists actually vote as equals with elected legislators on "model" legislation to change our rights.

Also, please check out the in-depth research from around the world by our partner projects within SourceWatch: CoalSwarm and FrackSwarm.

You can also use the sign up box below to get breaking news about our breakthrough investigations.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director

Praise for SourceWatch!

"As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, [CMD's SourceWatch] is an invaluable resource."
Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

"Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without CMD [the Center for Media and Democracy] and your fabulous websites."
—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada

"The troublemakers at the Center for Media and Democracy, for example, point to dozens of examples of "greenwashing," which they defined as the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy" or rehabilitate an image. In the center's view, many enterprises labeled green don't deserve the name.
—Jack Shafer, "Green Is the New Yellow: On the excesses of 'green' journalism," Slate.

"The dearth of information on the [U.S.] government [lobbying] disclosure forms about the other business-backed coalitions comes in stark contrast to the data about them culled from media reports, websites, press releases and Internal Revenue Service documents and posted by SourceWatch, a website that tracks advocacy groups."
—Jeanne Cummings, 'New disclosure reports lack clarity," Politico.

"The folks at the Center for Media and Democracy have done incredible work documenting fake grassroots ("astroturf") groups. Here, they're helping protect the rights of all Americans to exercise their right to vote. They are completely non-partisan. These guys are the real deal."

Craig Newmark, Craig's List

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