The Wisconsin Supreme Court puts an end to an investigation into Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 campaign.
The justices cited free speech, ruling that state election law is overbroad and vague in defining what amounts to “political purposes”.
But the conservative majority on the Wisconsin court, relying in part on U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have struck down large chunks of federal campaign finance laws, rejected the entire premise of the Schmitz investigation.
John Doe refers to a Wisconsin law that lets prosecutors investigate suspects to determine whether or not they have probable cause, according to Marcus Berghahn, of Hurley, Burish, and Stanton Law Firm.
Linda Feldmann wrote in the Monitor that the investigation represented perhaps the “biggest liability” to Walker’s campaign for the White House.
The case centers on political activity conducted by Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations during the 2012 recall, which was spurred by Democrats’ anger over a Walker-authored law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.
The investigation into potentially unlawful coordination between the Walker recall campaign and special interest groups grew out of an earlier probe of illegal campaign activity by Walker aides on his behalf while he was still county executive.
But the separate state challenges, which culminated in Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, had continued to block the investigation.
The investigation had been hung up for 18 months after a lower court ruling. They denied any wrongdoing.
Wisconsin Club for Growth has argued that the law does not prohibit politicians, including Walker, from raising money for issue-based advocacy groups, and that preventing campaign officials from talking with such groups is a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of association. It halts any continuing investigation or legal discovery that could tarnish the Wisconsin governor’s image heading into next year.
WMUR’s John DiStaso points out that five candidates are due to visit the state Thursday.
Justice David Prosser, in an opinion with which a majority of justices concurred, found the appointment of Schmitz by Reserve Judge Barbara Kluka to be invalid.
“To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the… prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law”, Gableman wrote. Critics immediately noted that two of the justices on the court who ruled in Walker’s favor had been elected with $10 million in contributions from outside advocacy groups, which don’t disclose their donors and which were the very subjects of the Walker investigation.
Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Lee says he expects we’ll start seeing those groups be more explicit in their support of candidates moving forward. The justices scaled the law back, a move that case law allows them to make in an effort to rehabilitate questionable statutes.
“This closes a divisive chapter in Wisconsin history, and the assertive recognition of First Amendment rights by the Wisconsin Supreme Court protects free speech for all Wisconsinites”, state Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement.
By GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports Writer Former Federation Internationale de Football Association Vice President Jeffrey Webb has been extradited to the United States following his arrest in Switzerland on racketeering and bribery charges filed by American…