Scott Walker John Doe Documents

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With this webpage, Sourcewatch has attempted to gather publicly available documents on the two "John Doe" criminal investigations involving Scott Walker and his associates. The investigations have been conducted under Wisconsin’s "John Doe" statute, a closed-door investigatory process overseen by a judge that allows prosecutors to compel people to testify and produce documents. It is analogous to a grand jury investigation, but conducted in front of a judge rather than a jury.
 Grand Juries are rarely used in Wisconsin, but John Does are commonly used to conduct investigations in a variety of cases.


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John Doe I: In May 2010, Judge Neil Nettesheim authorized Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, to begin a John Doe investigation involving Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, his staff and associates. The investigation resulted in 15 felony indictments for six people who have been sentenced for a variety of crimes including misconduct in office. This investigation was closed in March 2013 and no charges were brought against Walker.[1] Subsequently, documents related to the investigation were authorized for release by Nettesheim and were released by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele under Wisconsin's public records law.

John Doe II: In February 2012, another John Doe investigation (referred to as "John Doe II") was authorized by Judge Barbara Kluka to investigate potentially illegal campaign coordination between Friends of Scott Walker and outside groups during the 2011-2012 recall elections. Because this investigation involved individuals who lived in five counties across the state, the probe has involved five District Attorneys, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, and has been authorized by both Republican and Democratic judges. A special prosecutor was appointed to lead the multi-county investigation, veteran federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz, a Republican who voted for Walker in 2012.[2] As of May 2015, the case is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Key Resources:

  • Center for Media and Democracy IRS Complaint against Wisconsin Club for Growth, filed October 2014. Complaint alleges group at center of Walker probe lied to the IRS about its political activity and violated its tax-exempt status, based on extensive new evidence.
  • See also the Scott Walker page on Sourcewatch and its extensive coverage of the John Doe and other issues.

Contents

Former head of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Gerald C. Nichol Advocates for Stricter Judicial Recusal Rules Following John Doe

The respected former head of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Gerald C. Nichol a retired judge, summarized the John Doe case in a 2017 Wisconsin State Journal article suggesting that Wisconsin's judicial recusal laws needed to be tightened to avoid the appearance of corruption and restore faith in the courts. Nichol writes,

"After reviewing the evidence brought to the GAB by the Milwaukee DA, the GAB unanimously voted to conduct an investigation. This evidence documented that the governor solicited various wealthy individuals for millions of dollars, directing contributors to make their donations to Wisconsin Club for Growth 501c4 and not to the Friends of Scott Walker. By doing this, individuals’ identities would not be revealed, and their contributions would not be made public. Evidence also revealed people were retained or employed by both of these political fundraising organizations. This strategy ensured consistent messaging to the public. The GAB, which the Legislature later abolished, hired a retired assistant U. S. attorney to lead the investigation."[3]

John Doe II Investigation, 2012-2016

Although the "John Doe II" campaign finance probe has been conducted under strict secrecy orders, some documents pertaining to the investigation have become public as the result of a federal lawsuit filed by Wisconsin Club for Growth.

U.S. Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court Denies Cert. of John Doe Appeal, October 3, 2016

Brief of The Center for Media and Democracy, The Brennan Center for Justice, and Common Cause as Amici Curiae in Support of a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin, June 22, 2016

Group of Wisconsin Legislators Letter to Dane County DA Ozanne Requesting Investigation Regarding John Doe II Documents, September 29, 2016

Brad Schimel Files Brief in Opposition to a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, August 16, 2016

Brief of Constitutional Accountability Center as Amicus Curiae in Support of a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin, August 15, 2016

Brad Schimel Brief in Opposition to the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, November 11, 2015

The Guardian Leak: 1,500 Pages of Documents Pertaining to the John Doe II Investigation, September 14, 2016

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Compromised Supreme Court Shuts Down John Doe

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said in dismissing the John Doe in 2015 that "the special prosecutor has not alleged any express advocacy." Yet prosecutors raised express advocacy explicitly in their filing with the court under the hard-to-miss header "Express Advocacy."[4]

They explained to the court how big groups like the Republican State Leadership Conference and the Republican Governors Association worked closely with the Walker campaign. Both groups registered formally as independent expenditure/express advocacy groups with the Wisconsin elections board and swore an oath saying they would not coordinate with Walker. RGA would spend $9.5 million in the Walker recall race on a barrage of ads that were the functional equivalent of express advocacy.[5]


Yet the Supreme Court ignored these facts, and when the special prosecutor asked to present more evidence, the court fired him and ordered the destruction of evidence.[5]

For instance: Prosecutors alleged that "FOSW and its agents were regularly conducting meetings/conference calls with RGA to discuss campaign strategy including polling. Governor Walker conducted phone calls and attended fundraising events coordinated by RGA."[5] The Guardian released emails from the investigation providing information that Keith Gilkes, Scott Walker's campaign manager, held weekly meetings with the Republican Governors Association -- registered in the state as an "independent expenditure" group -- which had sworn an oath not to coordinate with Walker. On October 14, 2011, an RGA staffer wrote to Gilkes in an email, "Josh mentioned he would like to make this a recurring call on Fridays at 2:30 pm (EST). Does that work for you?" Gilkes replied, "This works on my end for a weekly call... Shoot me the phone number and dial-in when you have it."[6] Josh is likely Josh Robinson, RGA's political director, who later boasted of "overseeing the largest IE [Independent Expenditure] campaign defending Scott Walker during the 2012 recalls" in his bio. RGA spent $9.5 million in the recall election pounding Walker's opponent and lauding Walker. Many contend these ads were not "issue ads" but were the functional equivalent of express advocacy and prohibited even under the 2015 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling shutting down the John Doe. Marquette Law Professor Ed Fallone pointed out in 2017 that a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a lower court ruling also makes clear that the Wisconsin Supreme Court plainly got it wrong when it ruled that so-called "issue ads" are exempt from regulation.[7]

The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that coordination with groups that run express advocacy ads or their functional equivalent was barred, yet the court failed to look at the many ads that qualified as express advocacy or its functional equivalent and fired the special prosecutor when he objected.[8] The coordination was apparent in the ads. "Forward—Walker, Backwards—Barrett" was a central theme in Walker campaign ads showing people walking backwards, clocks spinning backwards, etc., including this May 7, 2012 ad. Republican Governors Association ads had the same theme, as did adds by WMC-IMC and other smaller groups like Wisconsin Recall Action.[5] Many of these ads were the functional equivalent of express advocacy, say experts.[8]

Prosecutors believe that Governor Scott Walker raised $2 million for these Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce-IMC ads that were run in his 2012 recall race and that his top campaign aide, R.J. Johnson, may have been paid for placing them. Investigators say in the filings that bank records reflect wire transfers in April and May 2012 from WMC-IMC to Ten Capitol (the ad firm of WCM) totaling $3.7 million. "Coinciding with the wire transfers to Ten Capitol, WMC-IMC received payments from WiCFG," wrote prosecutors. "Consistent with a commission for ad placement, R.J. Johnson and Associates received $50,000 from Ten Capitol on June 22, 2012."[5]

Justice Gableman, R.J. Johnson Relationship

The conservative majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was elected with at least $10 million in spending by the groups under investigation. Many outside groups outspent the justices themselves. Two justices, Gableman and Prosser, were asked to recuse by prosecutors, but refused.[5]

A September 2016 expose by The Guardian shed new light on why prosecutors thought Gableman should recuse.[9]

In the full email from Scott Walker to Karl Rove on May 4, 2011 -- made available for the first time by The Guardian -- Walker wrote, "RJ was the chief advisor to my campaign. He pulled together the team who flipped the Senate three times and the Assembly two times. He ran the effort that defeat the first incumbent Supreme Court Justice for decade back in 2008 and Club for Growth -- Wisconsin was the key to retaining Justice Prosser."[10]

In the 2008 Supreme Court race, Justice Louis Butler was unseated by Michael Gableman in an ugly race where isconsin Club for Growth -- controlled by R.J. Johnson -- and Gableman's campaign ran ugly ads that generated official complaints.[11][12][13]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Orders List of Documents to be Placed into Public File, January 20, 2017

Dean Strang, Counsel for Unnamed Movants No. 7, Letter to Attorney General Brad D. Schimel, February 1, 2016

Unnamed Movant No. 6's Memorandum in Opposition to Intervenor's Motion to Amend the Secrecy Orders, February 1, 2016

Unnamed Movant No. 2, 7 and 8's Memorandum in Opposition to Intervenor's Motion to Amend the Secrecy Order, February 1, 2016

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Motion for Reconsideration of John Doe II, December 2, 2015

Wisconsin Supreme Court Dismisses the John Doe II, July 16, 2015

Wisconsin Supreme Court Document Release, May 13, 2015

Court Inadvertently Releases Sealed Filing Showing Prosecutors' Arguments for the First Time

Eric O'Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth, Inc. v. Francis Schmitz, et. al.

Documents made public in the Eastern District of Wisconsin case O'Keefe v. Schmitz, Case 2:14-cv-00139-RTR, before District Court Judge Rudolph Randa.

Documents made public in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case O'Keefe v. Schmitz, Appeal Nos. 14-188, et al., before Judges Frank Easterbrook, Diane Wood, and William Bauer

The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy v. Francis Schmitz, et. al.

MacIver Institute Files lawsuit Against Chisholm, Schmitz and senior GAB staff Alleging Violations of the Federal Stored Communications Act, August 1, 2016

U.S. District Judge William Conley Dismisses MacIver's Lawsuit

Additional Documents

Archer v. Chisholm et al., 2015-2016

Complaint

Answer to Complaint on Behalf of Defendants David Budde and Robert Stelter

Defendants John Chisholm, David Robles and Bruce Landgraf's Answer and Affirmative Defenses

Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, On Behalf of Defendants John Chisholm, David Robles, and Bruce Landgraf

September 13, 2011 Cindy Archer Search Warrant

Discovery Documents from John Doe I

U.S. Judge Lynn Adelman Dismisses Cindy Archer's Lawsuit, May 26, 2016

Cindy Archer Appeals Judge Adelman's Decision with the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals, August 2, 2016

O'Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth v. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, 2014-Present

Complaint

Defendants' Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Sharrie Hauge in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Paul Schwarzenbart in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Kevin Kennedy in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Jonathan Becker in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Gerald Nichol in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Francis Schmitz in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment

Exhibit A: Email Documents Released

Proposed Order

GAB Filings

Answer

Defendants' Redacted Response to First Combined Discovery Requests

Amended Answer

Affidavit of Paul Schwarzenbart in Support of Motion for Protective Order

Affidavit of Kevin J. Kennedy Opposing Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery

Affidavit of Paul W. Schwarzenbart Opposing Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Discovery

Defendants' Revised Index to Plaintiffs' Challenged Set of In-Camera Documents

Affidavit of Paul W. Schwarzenbart in Support of Defendents' Motion for Summary Judgement

Affidavit of Jonathan Becker in Support of Defendents' Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Kevin J. Kennedy in Support of Defendents' Motion for Summary Judgment

Affidavit of Francis D. Schmitz in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiffs' Notice of Motion and Motion to Compel

Supplemental Brief of Robert Stelter in Support of Motion to Quash

Notice of Motion Filed under Seal

Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Their Notice of Challenge to Confidentiality Designations and Motion to Modify Protective Order

Greim Letter to Judge Dreyfus

Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel David Robles, Bruce Landgraf, and Robert Stelter to Appear for Deposition and Produce Documents Pursuant to Subpoenas Duces Tecum

Exhibit A: Part 1 (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit A to Motion to Compel

Exhibit A: Part 2 (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit B to Motion to Compel

Exhibit C (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit C to Motion to Compel

Exhibit D (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit E (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit G (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Exhibit H (Made Public on 2016-02-26)

Wisconsin Club for Growth Filings

Plaintiffs' Notice of Motion and Motion for Relief from Local Rule 5.5 as to Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion to Compel

First Amended Complaint

Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Motion for Protective Order

O'Neil Letter to Judge Dreyfus

Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Relief from the Amendd Protective Order to Allow the Filing of Sealed Materials Before the John Doe Judge

Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendents' Motion for Protective Order and Cross-Motion to Compel

Deposition of Matthew John Stippich

Response to Subpoena Duces Tecum to Corporate Representative-DIFS, LLC's Response to Request for Production of Documents

Third Amendment to Protective Order Entered Under Seal

John Doe I Investigation, 2010-2013

State v. Rindfleisch

State v. Russell

State v. Wink

State v. Kavanaugh

State v. Gardner

State v. Pierick

Additional Documents

September 13, 2011 Cindy Archer Search Warrant

Milwaukee County Executive Employee Computers

After John Doe I was closed, Wisconsin media organizations sought records pertaining to the investigation under the state's Public Records Law. [14] In September of 2013, Judge Nettesheim ordered the release of the records. [15]

Scott Walker, Former Milwaukee County Executive 2002-2010

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Tim Russell, Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Housing Director for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Google Blog

Notes and Emails

Cynthia Archer, Former Administrative Services Director for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Calendar

Additional Documents

Kelly Rindfleisch, Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Darlene Wink, Former Constituent Services Coordinator for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes, Emails, and Drafts

Tom Nardelli, Former Chief of Staff for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Fran McLaughlin, Former Milwaukee County Spokeswoman for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Dorothy Moore, Executive Assistant for Scott Walker

County Networked Computer Documents

Non-networked Workstation Computer Documents

Notes and Emails

Articles & Resources

Related PRWatch Articles

Related External Articles

References

  1. Daniel Bice and Scott Umhoefer, "John Doe probe of Scott Walker office closed with no new charges," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 2, 2013.
  2. Daniel Bice, "Secret probe spreads to five Wisconsin counties," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 21, 2013.
  3. Gerald C. Nichol, Big donations to judges should require recusal, Wisconsin State Journal, June 5, 2017.
  4. 2014-2-21-Schmitz-Affidavit, p. 29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Mary Bottari, Supreme Cover-Up: How the Wisconsin Justice System Failed in the Walker John Doe, PRWatch.org, September 18, 2016.
  6. John Doe Emails, p. 71.
  7. Edward A. Fallone, More Doubts About the Court’s Resolution of the John Doe Investigation, Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, February 27, 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arn Pearson, Leaked Documents Show Court's Dismissal of the John Doe Was Based on a False Premise, PRWatch.org, September 22, 2016.
  9. Ed Pilkington and the Guardian US interactive team, Leaked court documents from ‘John Doe investigation’ in Wisconsin lay bare pervasive influence of corporate cash on modern US elections, The Guardian, September 14, 2016.
  10. Key-Misc-Set-One, John Doe documents released by The Guardian, p.16.
  11. Patrick Marley and Steven Walters, Judicial Commission says Gableman ad was deceiving, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 8, 2008.
  12. Controversial campaign review committee is back for second year, Wisconsin Law Journal, February 2, 2009.
  13. Bruce Murphy, Why Gableman Is Stepping Down, Urban Milwaukee, June 20, 2017.
  14. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, Our View: John Doe records should be released, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Oct. 12, 2013.
  15. Patrick Marley and Daniel Bice, Judge orders documents released in probe of Scott Walker aides, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 25, 2013.