- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Court documents released publicly for the first time Thursday offer new insight into prosecutors’ secret investigation of potential illegal campaign fundraising activities by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.

In the documents, state prosecutors say Walker’s campaign in 2011 and 2012 broke election laws by coordinating with conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The 266 pages of unsealed documents show investigators viewed Walker as having a central role in the alleged scheme.

No charges have been filed against Walker, who is viewed as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. The investigation, known as a John Doe, has been on hold since May, when a federal judge temporarily halted it.

___

WHAT IS A JOHN DOE INVESTIGATION ANYWAY?

It is the name given to investigations allowed under Wisconsin law which are done largely in secret and overseen by a judge. Prosecutors can collect evidence and compel people to testify, but the activity is largely shielded from the public.

Prior to Thursday’s document release, some information had leaked out about the latest probe through court rulings, redacted court filings, and leaks made by Eric O’Keefe, the director of Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the conservative groups being targeted.

___

WHY WERE THE DOCUMENTS UNSEALED?

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook in Chicago unsealed 266 pages of documents related to a Wisconsin Club for Growth lawsuit seeking to halt the investigation. The organization had argued the public has the right to see them.

The documents include a filing from prosecutors defending the investigation, saying Walker illegally coordinated fundraising during the state’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections with independent conservative groups across the country.

___

WHO ARE THE PROSECUTORS?

The lead investigator is Francis Schmitz, who has described himself as a Republican who voted for Walker. Also involved in the investigation is Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat.

___

Story Continues →