- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The state’s elections board and the Wisconsin Club for Growth said Thursday they’ve reached a settlement over a lawsuit related to an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election.

Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said the deal ends the case and saves taxpayers money.

Club for Growth attorney Eddie Greim confirmed the agreement ends the lawsuit, but said his group won concessions that will affect how the GAB operates moving forward.

Club for Growth, a conservative organization, has said the elections board violated state law and overstepped its authority in a John Doe investigation into whether Walker’s recall campaign had illegally coordinated with conservative groups. No one was charged in the investigation, which ended when the Wisconsin Supreme Court said the type of coordination being investigated was legal.

The settlement details what the GAB has agreed to, including refraining from funding and assisting future criminal prosecutions in violation of its statutory authority. The settlement also prohibits the board from researching and drafting legal documents on behalf of law enforcement and third-party groups for use in criminal investigation or prosecution.

Kennedy said these agreements amount to following the law, and notes that the settlement contains no acknowledgment of wrongdoing on the part of the GAB.

“We’re going to do as we’ve always done,” Kennedy said.

The elections board recently asked that the case be dismissed since John Doe investigation laws have recently been changed. State law no longer allows John Doe proceedings, which are similar to a grand jury probe where information is tightly controlled, to investigate crimes within the GAB’s jurisdiction.

The settlement comes a day after Walker signed a bill that dissolves the GAB on June 30. The board will be replaced with two commissions: one to oversee elections, the other ethics.

“We believe this agreement is binding on the successors to the GAB,” Greim said.

Both sides say the deal has been submitted to a Waukesha County judge, but it hasn’t yet been approved.

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Associated Press writer Todd Richmond in Madison contributed to this report.

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Follow Greg Moore at https://twitter.com/writingmoore. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/greg-moore.

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