- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Three prosecutors filed a motion Friday to intervene in a court case halting a secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign.

Online court records indicate Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm filed a sealed motion Friday with the state Supreme Court seeking to intervene on behalf of three unidentified district attorneys.

Chisholm, along with district attorneys in Iowa, Dodge, Dane and Columbia counties, had begun investigating whether Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups during the 2012 recall, which was spurred by anger over Walker’s law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights.

A judge later appointed Francis Schmitz to lead the probe as a special prosecutor at the district attorneys’ request.

In July, the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court halted the investigation, ruling that Walker’s campaign and the groups legally coordinated on issue ads, which are communications that criticize or praise candidates’ positions but don’t specifically call for their election or defeat. The court said coordination on such communications amounts to free speech.

Earlier this month, the justices rejected Schmitz’s request to reconsider, saying he lacked legal standing.

The court gave the five original prosecutors until Friday, however, to file motions seeking to intervene. If the court were to grant such a motion, the prosecutors would become part of the case and could appeal the July ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Schmitz had asked that two justices, Michael Gableman and David Prosser, recuse themselves because their campaigns benefited from millions of dollars spent by at least three groups that were under investigation. The court denied the request, forming the basis for an appeal.

Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey sent a letter Monday to her fellow district attorneys saying she was done with the investigation. Wisconsin Watchdog reported that Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg sent a letter to the other prosecutors last week saying he was out as well.

That suggests Chisholm filed the motion on behalf of himself, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson. None of them immediately returned phone messages Friday.

It’s unclear whether Schmitz retains any appellate rights. The state Supreme Court said in its ruling this month that “prosecution team” can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court but didn’t define that term. Schmitz didn’t respond to an email message Friday.


Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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