MADISON, Wis. — Are settlement talks between Gov. Walker and state prosecutors a desperate attempt to keep documents from a second, ongoing “John Doe” criminal investigation of Walker’s campaign from ever becoming public? One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that word of a deal has heated up as more documents from an earlier John Doe criminal probe that resulted in the criminal convictions of six close Walker aides and associates appear likely to be released to the public.
“Seeing what was revealed in just a fraction of the documents from the first John Doe criminal probe of Gov. Walker and his associates, it’s no wonder he’s desperate to keep more of the paper trail of his record of cronyism, corruption and incompetence away from the media and the public,” said Ross.
Thousands of pages of documents from the first John Doe criminal probe were released earlier this year as part of a legal appeal filed by Walker’s Deputy Chief of Staff in Milwaukee County, who pled guilty to illegal campaigning on public time. They revealed that under Walker as Milwaukee County Executive a secret email system was set up and used for rampant campaigning on public time, Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial campaign staff was significantly involved in public policy issues and Walker himself was intimately involved in the details of crafting his public image and responding to negative media coverage. In addition, there were multiple examples of Walker’s top staff and close advisors talking disparagingly of persons struggling with mental illness and engaging in homophobic and racist email banter.
A recent ruling by the judge who oversaw the first John Doe investigation will return more records seized by prosecutors back to the office of the Milwaukee County Executive, where they could be released to the public. In addition, right-wing federal Judge Rudolph Randa’s order to prosecutors to destroy records obtained in a second John Doe criminal probe of Walker was recently stayed by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
According to media reports, sources have confirmed that Gov. Walker’s lawyer is in discussions with a special prosecutor in charge of the investigation into alleged illegal coordination between Gov. Walker’s campaign and outside groups. A firestorm from the right wing has ensued, including an anonymously written piece on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal leveling scathing criticism of Gov. Walker for his reported negotiations with prosecutors.
“There is no question that Gov. Walker is driven by political ambition for higher office and his next election. And he is clearly, and rightly, concerned about what additional document dumps from the criminal investigations of his administration and campaign will do to his 2014 election prospects and 2016 presidential ambitions. What remains to be seen is whether or not he’s going to sell out the mega-donors and special interests that underwrite him to try to save his own hide,” concluded Ross.