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Wisconsin Gov. Walker part of criminal scheme, prosecutors say
Question of the Day
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he was the victim of a partisan legal assault after prosecutors released court documents saying that the Republican governor was involved in a “criminal scheme” in which he illegally coordinated fundraising with outside conservative groups in the run-up to his 2012 recall election.
No charges have been filed against the governor, who is running for re-election and is thought to be weighing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“The accusation of any wrongdoing written in the complaint by the office of a partisan Democrat district attorney by me or by my campaign is categorically false. In fact, two judges, in both state and federal courts, have ruled that no laws were broken,” Mr. Walker said.
The allegations were first filed in December as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Walker and members of his inner circle — including former chief of staff Keith Gilkes and top adviser R.J. Johnson — illegally coordinated with the Wisconsin Club for Growth and the state chamber of commerce.
Mr. Walker became a rising star within the Republican ranks after he led the charge to effectively end collective bargaining for most of the state’s public sector employees. The effort put him in the cross-hairs of Democrats and sparked the 2012 recall election, which Mr. Walker won.
The Associated Press reported that investigators launched the probe during the recall effort, but a federal judge halted it, ruling that the investigation breached the free speech rights of Wisconsin Club for Growth.
The court documents released Thursday show that prosecutors believe that Mr. Walker, Mr. Gilkes and Mr. Johnson broke the law by discussing illegal fundraising and coordination with national political groups and high-profile Republicans, including Karl Rove.
“The scope of the criminal scheme under investigation is expansive,” Francis D. Schmitz, a special prosecutor, wrote in the court documents. “It includes criminal violations of multiple election laws.”
Under Wisconsin law, third-party political groups are allowed to work together on campaign activity, but they are barred from coordinating that work with the candidates themselves.
Wisconsin Club for Growth has argued the prohibition does not apply to them because they do not specifically tell people how to vote or run ads with phrases like “vote for” a certain candidate.
The federal judge who halted the investigation and the judge overseeing it both agreed with that argument.
Prosecutors, including Mr. Schmitz and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, have appealed the matter to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Chisholm is a Democrat, and Mr. Schmitz has described himself as a Republican who voted for Mr. Walker.
A spokesman for the national group declined to comment.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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