- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 28, 2014
AP source: Walker in talks to end campaign probe

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A person close to an investigation of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and other conservative groups said Wednesday that Walker’s attorney is talking with the lead investigator about a possible settlement that would end the probe.

The person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said he could not do so publicly because of a secrecy order covering the investigation.

The person said he had spoken with several people with direct knowledge of the discussions between prosecutors and Walker’s attorney.

The secret investigation, known as a John Doe, began in August 2012 shortly after the Republican governor won a recall election. It focused on alleged illegal campaign fundraising, spending and coordination between conservative groups, Walker’s campaign and others during recall elections in both 2011 and 2012.

The investigation has been a distraction for Walker as he runs for re-election against Democrat Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive. Walker also is considering a run for president in 2016.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa earlier this month halted the investigation, saying the probe violated the free speech rights of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the conservative groups accused of illegally coordinating with Walker’s campaign. Prosecutors have appealed that ruling and have asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put it on hold.

Under Wisconsin law, prosecutors can launch John Doe investigations that are overseen by judges and conducted largely in secret. Many details about this case have only come to light through leaks and court orders like Randa’s ruling.


Abortion doctors restrictions take root in South

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - From Texas to Alabama, laws are being enacted that would greatly restrict access to abortion, forcing many women to travel hundreds of miles to find a clinic. The laws, requiring abortion doctors to have privileges to admit patients to local hospitals, could have a profound impact on women in poor and rural sections of the Bible Belt.

In many places in the South, clinic doctors come from out of state to perform abortions and don’t have ties to a local hospital. Critics say the laws mean hospitals, leery of attracting anti-abortion protesters, could get veto power over whether the already-scarce clinics remain in business. They say the real aim is to outlaw abortions while supporters say they are protecting women’s health.

The laws are the latest among dozens of restrictions on abortions that states have enacted in the past two decades, including 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent and ultrasound requirements.

“You’re looking at huge swaths of the country where women’s options are becoming severely limited,” said Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The requirements are already in effect in Texas and Tennessee. Laws in Mississippi and Alabama are on hold during court challenges. Louisiana and Oklahoma are about to enact their laws, which would bring the total to 10 states, according to figures from the Center. If the law there is upheld, Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic would have to close, meaning women in some parts of the state would have to travel at least three hours to an out-of-state clinic.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant bluntly gave one reason for signing that law in 2012: “…we’re going to try to end abortion in Mississippi.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights says besides the South, other states with the laws are in the Midwest or the West - Kansas, North Dakota, Utah and in Wisconsin, where it is being challenged in court this week. Americans United for Life provides a list of 13 states with laws that require abortion clinic doctors to have some sort of formal connection to a hospital, such as admitting privileges. But, the Center for Reproductive Rights attorney said that group includes some states with laws that are less stringent than the ones in states such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


OSHA cites Wisconsin paper mill

PARK FALLS, Wis. (AP) - A federal safety agency has cited a Wisconsin paper mill for allegedly failing to protect workers from exposure to sulfur dioxide vapors.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Flambeau River Papers for eight violations and proposed penalties of $42,300.

The agency alleges the violations happened at the company’s Park Falls paper mill. Sulfur dioxide is used in treating wood pulp for paper manufacturing and has been linked to respiratory problems.

OSHA opened the inspection Jan. 30. Flambeau River Papers has 15 business days to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings.

A phone message left for a company official was not immediately returned Wednesday.


Wisconsin school makes history with baseball title

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater returned to sports dominance this week at the hands of three alumni, who helped the Warhawks earn a spot in the NCAA record books.

The baseball team took home the Division III World Series trophy with a 7-0 win over Emory University on Tuesday, coached by John Vodenlich. The Warhawks’ title came two months after Pat Miller’s basketball team won the men’s D-III championship, and five months after Lance Leipold’s football squad won the D-III title.

The trinity of titles makes UW-Whitewater the only school in NCAA history to win championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball in the same school year.

Before their run, though, Miller, Leipold and Vodenlich were all students at UW-Whitewater.

“I think it means a lot to the university and the athletic department in that we accomplished something that’s never been done,” said Miller, a 1989 UW-Whitewater graduate.

Leipold, a 1986 graduate, also has the best winning percentage among active coaches in all of college football, according to NCAA statistics. His team missed the playoffs during the 2012 season, but came back in 2013 to beat the University of Mount Union in December - capping its fourth undefeated, championship-winning season in five years.

“You have to turn the page and keep going,” Leipold said of the school’s recent success.

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