The Persecution of Wisconsin Conservatives

FE_120606_walkervictory425x283Conservative political entities who supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are being subjected to a secret investigation. Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz has issued a series of subpoenas to 29 conservative groups, demanding that they submit all documentation related to the recall campaigns mounted by unions and their supporters against Walker in 2011 and 2012. The investigation is being conducted under the auspices of the state’s John Doe law, which forbids the targets of subpoenas from revealing the contents of those subpoenas to anyone other than their lawyers.

The effort reeks of political intimidation. According to the Wall Street Journal, the two subpoenas they’ve reviewed demand “all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications” within the targets of the subpoenas themselves, and between those targets and conservative groups such as the Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, and the League of American Voters.

In a transparent effort to determine an entity’s list of campaign donors, one subpoena demands “all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation.”

The investigation originated in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf. Landgraf works for Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat. This latest John Doe investigation is the second one being conducted against Walker in only three-and-a-half years, and it was initiated just days before Democrat Mary Burke, a member of the Madison School Board, announced her intention to run for governor.

The previous John Doe probe was conducted in 2010, when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive. Chisholm spent three years on that investigation, which closed last March. It produced underwhelming results: six individuals pled guilty to crimes ranging from stealing money from a veterans’ fund, and sending political emails on government time, to violation of state campaign finance laws and contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Walker was never charged with, or convicted of, anything.

John Doe investigation gives prosecutors a lot of latitude otherwise unavailable to them. Unlike normal investigations, which are initiated based on probable cause, John Doe investigations enable investigators to establish probable cause itself. In pursuing that effort, law enforcement officials are granted the power to subpoena witnesses, take sworn testimony, offer immunity from prosecution, and compel testimony from reluctant witnesses. Their reach is limited only by a judge, whose is responsible to ensure procedural fairness and decide whether to file a criminal complaint. Yet the judge has broad powers as well, including the power to determine whether the examination will be secret. All of this occurs while the gag order part of the statute leaves the target of a probe with no way to defend themselves publicly.

Since this investigation is being conducted in secret, details are hard to come by. But one target of the probe, Eric O’Keefe, who is director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, has risked of contempt of court charges to reveal what he knows to the Journal. He told the paper he received a subpoena in October, and that he is aware of at least three other targets who had their homes raided at dawn. During those raids, police seized computers and files.

O’Keefe and other sources told the Journal that they don’t know who originated the probe, and Schmitz declined to comment. Yet the paper communicated with a source who has seen one of the Wisconsin search warrants, and that source contends they were issued at the request of Dean Nickel. Nickel is the former head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Public Integrity Unit. He has also worked as an investigator for the Government Accountability Board (GAB), which regulates political speech in that state. O’Keefe’s Wisconsin Club for Growth has squared off against the GAB in court. Nickel refused to discuss the investigation, and GAB Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy refused to comment.

Despite the gag orders, multiple sources confirmed O’Keefe’s description of the investigation to the Wisconsin Reporter. Another source contended the probe is being conducted for political purposes. “This is a taxpayer-funded, opposition-research campaign,” the source said. “This is not a question of what conservatives did wrong. It’s a question of one party in this state using prosecutorial powers to conduct a one-sided investigation into conservatives.”

Another knowledgable source contended “investigators are spying on people and using the power of government to collect records.” Another insider emphasized the indiscriminate nature of the probe noting that “it’s all outside, independent groups being questioned about whether they worked with campaigns. Everybody is being sniffed into.”

The Journal concurs, noting that the “disclosure of conservative political donors has become a preoccupation of the political left across the country.” They also noted those targeting Walker were engaged in intimidation. “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 latest investigation spans five counties, and the original judge in the case, retired Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara Kluka who recused herself for unspecified reasons, has been replaced by former state Appeals Court Judge Gregory A. Peterson. Peterson’s political leanings are unknown, but he confirmed that he did not sign any recall petitions.

Last Thursday, two attorneys filed motions with the state appeals court seeking a stay of the probe. Attorneys Dean Strang and Matthew O’Neill named Peterson and Schmitz as respondents. Their motions were filed on behalf of three unnamed petitioners who sought to suspend the investigation in Milwaukee, Iowa, Dodge, Dane and Columbia counties. An additional motion was filed, suggesting the petitioners’ requests also be sent directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where conservative justices outnumber their liberal counterparts four to three.

Mr. O’Keefe told the WSJ that the subpoenas “froze my communications and frightened many allies and vendors of the pro-taxpayer political movement in Wisconsin and across the country.” “Even if no one is ever convicted of a crime,” he says, “the process is the punishment.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider takes it one step further, noting that it is “particularly troubling that the investigation targets only conservative groups; apparently all the pro-union money that flooded into Wisconsin to help unseat Walker doesn’t quite gnaw on the consciences of these particular investigators,” he writes. “One needs to look no further than the Internal Revenue Service scandal from earlier this year to realize how dangerous partisan government can be when it has an agenda.”

Or an ideological fixation. No other politician in America has weathered an unrelenting storm of leftist intimidation tactics better than Scott Walker. The man who pushed through his ambitious union reforms and ultimately triumphed in the June 5, 2012 recall election, has undoubtedly become a prime target once again. And since the IRS investigation remains in limbo, it is not inconceivable that leftists in Wisconsin see that attempt to intimidate conservative organizations as a useful template. No matter how IRS investigations turns out, the damage done to conservative efforts during the 2012 presidential election campaign cannot be undone. A John Doe probe may or may not be justified. But it is certainly a useful tool for intimidating would-be donors.

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  • truebearing

    After the Walker Wars over Act 10, where Walker was attacked relentlessly for reining in collective extortion, no one in Wisconsin will be surprised by any ruthlessness of the Left. Businesses were threatened for supporting Walker, death threats were made, and anyone with a Walker bumper sticker anywhere near Madison could count on getting their vehicle vandalized (I speak from experience). The Left rabidly hates Walker because of the massive damage he inflicted on the public sector unions. They are frothing with hate, and will do anything to beat him.

    John Chisolm is slime and his vendetta, and abuse of his office, is both ideological and personal. Chisolm began the first John Doe investigation before the recall election between Walker and Chisolm cohort, Tom Barret. Barret used the probe incessantly to smear Walker, which was obviously the purpose for the witch hunt. Chisolm’s motives became even more obvious when it was learned that 43 attorneys in his office signed Walker recall petitions. The head investigator in the case had a “recall Walker” sign and pro-union poster in his front yard.

    The Left has lost control of the legislature and governor’s office, as well as critical State Supreme Court elections. They are nothiong short of maniacal in their drive to regain power. Walker has weakened the unions, humiliated the Left, and proven that conservative policies are vastly superior. Wisconsin is a textbook example of how deficits can make a speedy recovery once the Progressives and their corruption are removed from power.

    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see violence during the next election. The Left was threatening and on the verge after Act 10 passed, and again when Walker won the recall. Our Tea Party rallies on the Square were always outnumbered — 60,000 to 10,000 in one case — and the union thugs and Madison mutants were constantly trying to incite violence. It will be worse next year.

    • Rocky Mountain

      The way the law was described makes it seem unconstitutional from the very start. Very Star Chamber-like.

    • JamesJ

      And Wisconsin now has a budget surplus. How dare he?

      • Wisnativeson

        Actually the “budget surplus” is the result of Walker refinancing the state’s debt and passing the buck onto future generations who will have to pay off his “surplus”. You don’t have a “budget surplus” when your state is $8 billion dollars in debt. Republican accounting is a funny thing.

        • Jerry Person

          in 1998 walker championed truth in sentencing. This has cost Wisconsin tax payer 35 billion with a B walker is down 34 billion in money spent on his pimps Wisconsin then hired 35000 public sector workers to fill these jobs

        • JallopyMacfurry

          If a toothpaste company union rep demands more money, and it gets to a point where the company won’t make any more profits, they have to say no or lay people off. But a public union rep gets to ask for ever more money, since the money is from all of the people. It’s why they are *always* with the ideological Left or *statist* party. Obviously, since there is no real life accountability for where that money came from, or to the individual who earned it, they will forever ask for more, and get it. Why? Because that’s how the politician remains in power.

          The Left’s greed for power rivals a banker’s greed for cash. Except the leftist capitalizes on perceived compassion to get that power, at the expense, ultimately, of the very people he’s ostensibly being compassionate towards.

          “The bigger the government the smaller the citizen.”
          Dennis Prager

      • Jerry Person

        walkers truth in sentencing has cost Wisconsin 35 billion and forced Wisconsin to hire 35000 public sector workers. big government wisconsin gop

      • Jerry Person


    • defcon 4

      In Los Angeles, CA, my friends who supported the zero’s opposition (in both elections) didn’t dare display Romney or McCain signs on their front lawns, nor bumper stickers on their cars, for the very same reasons you cited for publicly supporting Walker in Madison.

      • Randy Townsend

        Interesting the response from “law enforcement” when the left does this stuff: Shouldn’t happen, it’s illegal. If ANYONE responds in kind: “We won’t tolerate violence of this nature!!!” When the right responds, ONLY THEN do the bullies with badges get serious (perhaps because they are unionized?

    • Fredrick Massey

      Hitler was on to something:

      The faction that was willing to take it to the streets and break heads on the pavement and in general terrify the opposition would win and deserved to win.

      Are you ready to give your enemies the fear they instill in you? Are you ready to spill blood?

      When you can say yes, you can win your freedom and deserve it as well.

      If not then you will always be a noble and long suffering peasant on the gov’t plantation. And so will be your children and grandchildren.


        The defenders of freedom in this country may in the end have no choice but to take recourse to arms, but under no circumstances is Adolf Hitler a model to be followed.

        • Fredrick Massey

          Did I say Hitler was a model to be followed?

          You are too dense for any further response.

          • NAHALKIDES

            Well, you did say that Hitler was on to something. And I’m not responsible for what is at best a very poor choice of words on your part.

        • Jerry Person

          typical response to a GOP/KKK/KGB/Nazi/tea party member. American`s know better and have human traits unlike tea party animals. they are Koch s l u t s nothing more

    • Harald Eigerson

      Follow up is important. Walker should encourage his legislature to impeach and remove officials who abuse the authority of their offices and forswear their oaths of office.

  • David Govett

    I no longer recognize this country.

    • geoplaten

      That is the main goal of all progressives.

  • ChangeHopeInAZ

    Sounds like this Schmitz should be impeached….or worse!

    • Drakken

      I’ll take the or worse. Time to fight fire with napalm.

  • Ruckweiler

    God forbid the citizens of Wisconsin should disagree with the People’s Republic Democrats. This is outrageous and proves yet again that liberals don’t believe in any election/referendum process where they lose. Star Chamber, anyone?

    • Jerry Person

      beter than being GOP/KGB/KKK/Nazi/tea party
      who prays to a DOG not a GOD. fake Christians are evil GOP nothing more

  • Sheik Yerbouti

    Whenever I need to show a textbook example of leftism gone amuck, I relate my experiences in Madison. I did a job there after spending the summer working in Atlanta. At the Indie coffee shop on Regent, where they couldn’t make me an iced coffee because it was winter (but had no problem selling me the more costly iced Americana) I casually mentioned that I was glad to be out of the Atlanta heat. The manager said “I bet you’re glad to be away from all that racism too”. I agreed and said “yes, it’s incredible how many people there will blatantly and loudly express their hatred of white people there”. The look on her face was priceless! At least the coffee was good.


      Great story! That’s the way to prick Lefty’s bubble.

    • Jerry Person

      walker does as his p I m p orders just like all street walkers

  • Paul Marks

    Retaliate in kind. Get conservative law officers in the State (and there are some) to launch investigations of all the leftist groups (unions, media and so on).

  • Phil

    Communism 101. Criminalize the opposition.

  • Clare Spark

    The upper Midwest was always a battleground in populist politics. From “honest Anglo-Saxon populists” to lefty professors and students at the U. of Wisconsin, to descendants of Germans who sided with Germany in WW1 and WW2, conflict was built in. The upper Midwest is the site of a Neil Gordon novel that was turned into a bad movie by Redford, and suggested that the Weathermen were not fringe, but typical of the entire liberal left. See “Rehabilitating the Weathermen.” Amor Vincit Omnia.

    • Seek

      I saw Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep.” That movie decidely was not a homage to the Weathermen. Au contraire. It was a message to the hard Left that said: “Grow up.” It’s remarkable how so many supposedly intelligent people could have missed that.

  • herb benty

    Leftism is un-American by nature.

  • geneww1938

    Yeah, the TV and newspapers are screaming about this on the front page.

    In my dreams.

  • JoeThePimpernel

    It is illegal for conservative to engage in politics, don’t you know?

  • Deerknocker

    The people of Wisconsin should be up in arms about this. You can’t protect freedom by sitting on the couch.

  • Brad

    This is a fragment

    “Or an ideological fixation.”

  • Andy_Lewis

    Hogwash! I guess you think law and order only applies to the other guy.

    • glpage

      Well, it kinda looks like someone on the left has decided that political opponents need a lesson in how to behave. Heaven forbid that anyone on the right would behave like the lefties.

  • Papa Bear

    If what is happening is true, I would ask, what the Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Hollen, doing? He is a Republican and sure must have some input into what the State’s prosecutors are doing.

  • bigjulie

    We have already seen previews of what is to become of us, should the Left gain complete power in the country. In Texas, after years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs, Tom Delay was finally acquitted of the charges brought against him by…DEMOCRATS! “By any means necessary” is not only a maxim of Malcolm X, it is how the DEMOCRATS conduct business on a daily basis.
    Liberals have no scruples. They have no principles except “By any means necessary” to achieve their ends, which is total domination of the rest of us and an infinite ability to intrude in and manage the daily lives of the rest of us. Their kindness and generosity applies to other people’s money, ONLY!
    We would do well in the next election to throw out every Democrat in office and replace them with Tea Party candidates, not just Republicans.


    If this investigation is truly being pursued under Wisconsin state law, then the law needs to be changed to prevent this sort of abuse. Walker and Wisconsin Republicans should make that their top priority. If the investigation is outside the bounds of the law, then both political and civil remedies should be pursued. I’m guessing that Walker does not have the authority as Governor to end the probe, but the State Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, nominally a Republican, should shut it down now and fire all those who instigated it if he has the authority.

    • Jerry Person

      just like the GOP did to Doyle. They are both guilty and were both above the law. Walkers using state workers for personal and political gain has always happened in the gobiners office. Even under Tommy T

  • Chris Shugart

    This is nothing short of Stalinesque. Worse, it’s a tactic that the Left will eagerly embrace at every given opportunity and not feel a shred of guilt. Political harassment under the guise of “election law enforcement” is the stuff of police states and military dictatorships.

    • Toa

      It makes you wonder when this kind of thing will happen to ANYONE who doesn’t openly support and/or vote Left, doesn’t it? We can bet our lives that’s what they want.

  • fritzidler

    Sounds like they want Walker down the Kafka roach hole. And anyone else who resists them.

    • Jerry Person

      walker is a roach hole for david Koch. he is the evil in America today. one sick puppy. Websters says to change what is norm for personal , politicial or religious reasons is an act of perversion. walker is a three strike pervert. just like his tea party village idiots who are all drunks. sober people know better

  • Drakken

    If you want to stop this leftist communist nonsense, it is really simple, especially if your one of the folks being investigated, start targeting the investigators, find out where they live and where they work, give them a nasty lesson on what it feels like to be watched and harass them day and night. The rule book is now null and void, time to start fighting fire with napalm. Let them know that you will do whatever it takes to bring warfare to their very doorsteps if they continue. and carry out the means if they don’t cease and desist.

    • mattogilvie55

      You beat me to it, Drakken.

    • ShakeSpear

      Yes, finally someone gets it. Intimidate them. Call them repeatedly. Maybe some garbage might magically appear on their lawn in the middle of the night and gosh …. nobody knows who did it. Maybe a nasty note will be mailed to the school of one of their kids and darn …. the return address is a Democrat’s house.

  • mattogilvie55

    You beat me to it, Drakken.

  • geoplaten

    That is the main goal of all progressives.

  • Harald Eigerson

    Follow up is important. Walker should encourage his legislature to impeach and remove officials who abuse the authority of their offices and forswear their oaths of office.

  • Toa

    It makes you wonder when this kind of thing will happen to ANYONE who doesn’t openly support and/or vote Left, doesn’t it? We can bet our lives that’s what they want.


    Well, you did say that Hitler was on to something. And I’m not responsible for what is at best a very poor choice of words on your part.

  • John

    Clearly you are a crypto-Nazi offended by my refusal to offer Hitler as a model.

    I thought all you guys drank beer and watched football and started fights with foreigners. I never suspected you to troll this news source.

    Will wonders never cease?

  • Jerry Person

    truth in sentencing by street walker has thousands of innocent people in jail to help walkers pimp make billions off the victims of the criminal just us regimes he created. life in jail would be to good for all the Wisconsin GOP. anything else is a village idiot talking

  • Jerry Person

    act 10 did not save a dime truth in sentencing championed by walker has cost 35 billion. please quit your lies . walker is down 34.9 billion Wisconsin was forced to hire 35000 public sector workers because of walker since 1998. walker is big government and big monopolies. he is anti small business and people hater

  • Jerry Person

    are all republicans fairies ? your telling fairy tales Mr gay man

  • Jerry Person

    walker attacks women and children makes him the perverts hero. Next it will be babies and puppies and they will want him president. P e r v s

  • Stilbelieve

    Wisconsin bishops and the USCCB supported the pro abortion unions campaign against against Governor Scott Walker. Are they going to use their influence to stop this kind of political witch hunts against the will of the people? In other words, are they going to work for the “common good” and “solidarity” of the Wisconsin voters or the hateful, political corrupting power of the unions? I’m anxious to see what the Catholic Church of Wisconsin has to say, and going to do, about all these new efforts to use government to besmirch the will of the people of Wisconsin with these totally partisan political attacks on the sanctity of the people’s vote.

  • Stilbelieve

    The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin and the USCCB supported the unions against Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to real in state debt caused by exceedingly biasly favorable healthcare and pension benefits for state employees compared to private sector benefits. Are the Catholic Bishops of Wisconsin going to remain silent as Democrat political elected officials use union thuggery tactics to once again attempt to discredit the vote of the people of Wisconsin? Or are they going to inject morality into this living hell the democrat unions are rampaging once against against the citizens of Wisconsin?