- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Judge blocks Wisconsin law used in Walker probe

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge Tuesday blocked enforcement of a Wisconsin election law that’s at the center of an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa granted the request to block the law from the Milwaukee-based group Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates while the conservative group’s underlying lawsuit challenging its constitutionality goes forward.

The ruling allows candidates to coordinate and work closely with independent groups that don’t explicitly tell people how to vote. Those groups frequently run television ads attacking or praising candidates, without saying who to vote for.

The conservative group CRG, which supports Republican Walker, argued that immediate action was needed because it wants to work with candidates - not including Walker - before the Nov. 4 election to create a website called “Take Charge Wisconsin!” but is fearful such coordination could be found to be illegal.

Randa, in agreeing to temporarily block enforcement of the law, said that time was of the essence with the election just three weeks away. Walker is in a tight race for re-election against Democrat Mary Burke. Democrats and unions unsuccessfully sought to recall Walker in 2012 after he pushed through a law sharply curbing the power of public sector unions in Wisconsin.

“Any further delay threatens to negate the effectiveness of CRG’s requested relief,” Randa wrote of the group.

Prosecutors have argued in court filings that coordination between a candidate and an outside group is illegal if it’s done to influence the outcome of an election, even if the speech is focused on issues and doesn’t advocate for or against any candidate.

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Walker downplays talk of 2016 presidential run

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker downplayed his interest in running for president during an editorial board meeting broadcast live Tuesday, three weeks before voters will decide whether to re-elect him to the office he’s already won twice since 2010.

In the expansive interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker said “anybody who wants to be president has to be a little crazy, so I don’t know if I want to be classified as crazy.”

“I want to be a governor,” Walker said. “I’m 46. God willing if some day that was even something to consider, that’s a long ways off.”

Walker is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Mary Burke, a former executive at Trek Bicycles and state Commerce Department secretary. The race has drawn national attention both because polls have shown it’s close and because Walker is widely considered to be in the mix for a 2016 presidential run.

But Walker tried to tamp down any possible presidential aspirations on Tuesday, saying he had no plans to travel to Iowa - sight of the first presidential caucus votes - in the coming weeks.

“I’ve had to run three times in four years so it’s pretty crazy to not want to continue to be governor,” said Walker, who was elected governor in 2010 and won a recall in 2012 in an election spurred by anger over his law targeting public workers’ collective bargaining rights. “And I think we’re just getting humming. I think things are just picking up. I’d like to see this out.”

He also strongly suggested he would not run for president if fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin got in the race. Ryan was the vice presidential nominee in 2012. Walker repeated the line he’s used frequently, saying if there were a Ryan fan club he would be the leader of it.

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SC Johnson regains Frank Lloyd Wright desk, chair

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A desk and chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has been returned to home products giant SC Johnson as part of a settlement with a California man who had planned to auction the distinctive and valuable furniture, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

SC Johnson, which is based south of Milwaukee in Racine, sued Sotheby’s auction house and Thomas Figge, of California, after the auction house listed the furniture for sale in 2013.

Wright designed SC Johnson’s Administration Building in the 1930s and created furnishings for it. The desk made of enameled steel and American black walnut has horizontal “speed” lines that give it a unique, streamlined look, according to court documents. It is painted a deep red and has rounded drawers that swing outward in a cascade. The blue upholstery on the accompanying chair indicates it was used in the company’s records department, the documents said.

The chair and desk were among multiple copies produced for SC Johnson. The company said in its lawsuit that it has not sold or loaned any items designed by Wright except in a few, well-documented cases to museums. It said it had no record of a gift to the people named in the ownership history provided by Sotheby’s, believed the items rightfully belonged to SC Johnson and wanted them returned.

Court documents show the lawsuit was dismissed Oct. 8 because a settlement had been reached. The terms weren’t disclosed, but SC Johnson spokeswoman Jam Stewart said in an email to The Associated Press that the company got the furniture back.

“Frank Lloyd Wright designed furniture is an important part of our company’s legacy,” Stewart wrote. “The furniture was designed in 1938-39 as part of Wright’s vision for the Administration building. We are happy that chair and desk have been returned to SC Johnson and our legacy has remained intact.”

Figge’s attorney, John Cahill, declined to comment on the settlement. Figge bought the furniture in 2002 from a previous owner, according to court documents.

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Wisconsin man gets life in ex-classmate’s killing

WEST BEND, Wis. (AP) - A 20-year-old Wisconsin man convicted of strangling a former high school classmate has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Daniel Bartelt of Richfield was sentenced Tuesday in the death of 19-year-old Jessie Blodgett in July 2013.

The Journal Sentinel reports Judge Todd Martens gave Bartelt the mandatory life sentence, and removed any eligibility for release under extended supervision.

WISN-TV reports Bartelt addressed Blodgett’s family in court and maintained his innocence.

In August, a jury convicted Bartelt of first-degree intentional homicide in Blodgett’s death. The two had been classmates at Hartford Union High School.

Blodgett had attended a cast party for “Fiddler on the Roof” the night before she was killed. Her mother found Blodgett dead in bed several hours after she returned from the party.

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