There are two things to know about the federal court decision this week that put a halt to an investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) 2012 recall election.
The first thing to know is that the ruling threw a huge roadblock in front of Wisconsin state prosecutors, who were looking at alleged coordination between Walker's campaign and outside conservative groups. The second thing to know is that the ruling, written by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, contained far-reaching opinions about campaign finance laws, and what outside spending groups are and aren't allowed to do. (Randa was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.)
TPM spoke Thursday with Ann Ravel, a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, to get her thoughts on Randa's ruling. Ravel, who was nominated to the FEC last year by President Obama, stressed that the ruling was just the first step in the legal process. (The state prosecutors have already appealed Randa's decision.)
Still, Ravel said she found the language of Randa's decision "very broad" and "troubling," and she thought that the decision itself goes "far beyond" what the Supreme Court has ruled in its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision and the more recent McCutcheon v. FEC. Those cases did away with various limits on political donations and spending, and the Citizens United case in particular has been seen as the decision that ushered in the super PAC and "dark money" era.
Below is a transcript of TPM's interview with Ravel, which has been edited for length and clarity.
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