Prosecutors investigating Wisconsin governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Scott Walker believe he masterminded a "criminal scheme" to circumvent election law and illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups. The goal: to help himself and a handful of other Republicans facing recalls across the nation.
The allegations were revealed in a trove of documents released as a part of a convoluted lawsuit in which the Wisconsin Club for Growth is suing to force prosecutors from continuing their secret "John Doe" investigation. Among the 226 pages of documents are previously unknown specifics about the scope of the allegations against Walker. Given the secret nature of the investigation, most details about it were unknown, leading to widespread speculation that prosecutors were hoping to end with the release of the documents.
…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. 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 recall.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth claims the investigation violates its first amendment rights, and at least one federal judge agreed, halting the investigation in May. As the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reviews the lawsuit, prosecutors set out squash the First Amendment argument.
No court has ever recognized that secret, coordinated activity resulting in "undisclosed" contributions to candidates' campaigns and used to circumvent campaign finance laws is protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the purpose of this investigation is to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Walker is running for reelection and locked in a tight race with former bike company executive Mary Burke.