- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014
Walker opponent stays away from investigation news

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - After news broke that prosecutors saw Gov. Scott Walker as a key part of a nationwide criminal scheme to coordinate fundraising with conservative groups, his Democratic opponent said nothing.

Instead, Mary Burke limited her public comments Thursday to another piece of bad news for Wisconsin’s Republican governor: the latest employment numbers that showed the state ranked 37th in job growth nationwide last year.

Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, is running her first statewide campaign in an effort to take out Walker, who has refused to commit to serving a full second term if re-elected this November as he considers a run for president in 2016. A Marquette University Law School poll released last month showed the race to be tied among registered voters.

Burke’s campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki didn’t address the latest investigation news directly, saying only that “Wisconsinites deserve a governor they can trust.”

Meanwhile, Walker and his backers were in damage control.

Documents unsealed Thursday show that prosecutors believe Walker and his top advisers played a central role in an illegal campaign coordination and fundraising scheme. No charges have been filed against Walker or any member of his staff. Also, Wisconsin Club for Growth and state prosecutors are arguing in court over whether the activities are covered by election laws.

The investigation began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election. But the probe has been on hold since May, when a federal judge ruled it was a breach of Wisconsin Club for Growth’s free-speech rights.

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What’s the latest in investigation of Gov. Walker?

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.

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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.

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Judge declines to unseal more Walker probe records

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge has rejected a request by five media groups to unseal the entire record in a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin Club for Growth against prosecutors investigating the conservative group, Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and others.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ruled Thursday against the media coalition, saying releasing the documents would subject those involved to “unwanted public scrutiny.”

Randa’s order came hours after a 7th Circuit Appeals Court judge made public more than 250 pages of material in the case after prosecutors and Wisconsin Club for Growth did not object.

Two unnamed people objected to the release of those documents and the entire record. Randa ordered them to work with both prosecutors and Wisconsin Club for Growth to determine within two weeks which records should remain secret.

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Harley-Davidson testing electric motorcycles

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Would a Harley still be a Harley if it didn’t have that out-of-my-way rumble and those fat, hydrocarbon-belching exhausts?

Motorcycle enthusiasts are about to find out as Harley-Davidson rolls out an electric bike - a sleek, futuristic version that sounds like a jet airplane taking off.

The public will get its first look at handmade demonstration models at an invitation-only event Monday in New York. The company will then take the models on the road for riders to try and provide feedback. Harley will use the information to refine the bike, which might not hit the market for several more years.

Harleys have long been the bad-boy bike of choice with an image associated with motorcycle gangs, even though most riders are middle-aged and middle-class. The new venture is a departure from Harley’s mainstay touring bikes and presents an added risk because currently almost no market for full-size electric motorcycles. The millions of two-wheeled electric vehicles sold each year are almost exclusively scooters and low-powered bikes that appeal to Chinese commuters.

But those focused on electric vehicle development say Harley has the marketing power to create demand, and its efforts to lower costs, build charging stations and improve technology will help everyone involved.

“It does validate what we’ve been doing; it adds additional credibility to it. It is certainly going to draw more people’s attention to electric motorcycles. The marketing horsepower of Harley-Davidson is going to be able to do things for us that we can’t do on our own,” said Scot Harden, vice president of global marketing at Zero Motorcycles, the top seller of full-size, high-powered electric bikes.

Zero expects to sell 2,400 electric motorcycles this year, a drop in the bucket compared with the more than 260,000 conventional motorcycles sold last year by Harley.

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