- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Wis. ruling could dramatically affect campaign law

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge’s decision to halt a secret investigation into illegal coordination between conservative groups and Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s recent recall campaign could have far-reaching implications for campaign finance law.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa on Tuesday ordered prosecutors to halt their investigation.

That order was put on hold Wednesday by an appeals court. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Randa should not have issued the order without waiting for it to decide another appeal in the case.

Prosecutors leading the secret probe say if his decision stands, it would allow independent groups that don’t have to disclose their donors to collaborate with candidates who do. Candidates would then have access to vast amounts of money without voters ever knowing the source.


Appeals court delays Wisconsin governor’s big win

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday put on hold a judge’s ruling halting a secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him.

A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee was wrong to have entered a preliminary injunction Tuesday stopping the investigation, which had been a major victory for Walker.

The appeals court said the injunction was in error because the judge had yet to determine whether an appeal by prosecutors of an earlier decision that they were not immune from being sued was frivolous or not. If the judge determines that appeal is frivolous, the stay could be lifted, although prosecutors could ask for another one, the appeals court said.

The civil lawsuit challenging the investigation was brought by Wisconsin Club for Growth. Its attorney, as well as the attorney representing prosecutors, did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the stay.

The granting of the stay is the latest twist in the ongoing drama of the investigation that has largely been conducted in secret. The setback for Walker and his supporters came roughly 24 hours after the ruling in their favor, which they hailed.

“Obviously the reason this witch hunt was launched was to impugn the integrity of the governor and he has been completely vindicated,” said Mark Graul, a Republican strategist who ran President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in Wisconsin.

The Tuesday ruling will help to silence Walker’s critics who tried to use the investigations against him, said Mike Maistelman, a Milwaukee attorney who represented Democratic and Republican elected officials in a variety of cases.


Wisconsin asks 7th Circuit to keep night deer ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - State attorneys tried to persuade a federal appellate court Wednesday to reject a request from Wisconsin’s Chippewa bands to reopen a long-settled case barring tribal hunters from hunting deer at night.

The state Department of Natural Resources has long banned night deer hunts out of safety concerns. The Chippewa, though, have pushed for years for a tribal night deer hunt in the ceded territory, a gigantic swath of northern Wisconsin the bands handed over to the federal government in the 19th century.

The tribes tried to persuade U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in 1989 to exempt tribal hunters from the state prohibition during a court battle over treaty rights in the ceded territory. Crabb ultimately ruled in 1991 that night deer hunting is dangerous and the state ban therefore applies to the tribes.

Legislators angered the Chippewa in 2012 when they allowed hunters to kill wolves at night. The tribes consider the wolf a spiritual brother.

The tribes asked Crabb to revisit her 1991 decision, arguing that circumstances have changed. They maintain that the state must believe night hunting is safe because lawmakers allowed hunters to kill wolves after dark, the DNR instituted night deer hunting programs to slow chronic wasting disease and has allowed night hunts to protect crops and prevent car-deer collisions.

Crabb rejected their arguments in December, saying the tribes failed to prove that circumstances have changed so drastically she should revisit the 1991 decision. She noted state officials did almost all the night hunting and most of it was designed to slow chronic wasting disease. Legislators also ended night wolf hunting after one season, she said.

The tribes asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago earlier this year to find that circumstances have changed and force Crabb to reopen the case.


5 things to know about Walker court ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal court ruling that halted an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign and other conservative groups has wide-ranging implications. Here are five things to know about the ruling:



U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ruled that a secret investigation into possible illegal coordination between the governor’s 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups supporting him was a breach of free-speech rights. He also ordered prosecutors to return all property seized in the investigation and to destroy all copies of information obtained in the probe. The judge, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush, issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative group that said the so-called John Doe investigation amounted to harassment.


Prosecutors leading the investigation immediately appealed Randa’s decision, and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago put his decision on hold late Wednesday. The appeals court said Randa should not have halted the investigation while it was still considering prosecutors’ appeal of his earlier decision that they were not immune from being sued. The court will decide later if Randa’s decision was valid.

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