In court documents unsealed on Thursday, a prosecutor accused Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) campaign of “tacitly” admitting to breaking Wisconsin law.
The assertion was included in a document originally filed in state court late last year by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, who was appointed in October to oversee a secret “John Doe” investigation of the 2011 and 2012 recall elections in Wisconsin.
As TPM has previously reported, the documents accuse Walker, his campaign, two of his close deputies, and numerous groups of participating in a “criminal scheme” to skirt state campaign finance laws. In essence, prosecutors thought Walker’s campaign had illegally coordinated with the outside groups. (And to be clear: no one has yet been charged with a crime.)
In a court filing responding to motions from the targets of the investigation, Schmitz countered arguments from Walker’s campaign, which goes by the name Friends of Scott Walker (FOSW), and the outside groups about what kind of coordination was allowed under Wisconsin law.
“Movants argue that ‘coordination’ of political activities that do not arguably involve express advocacy cannot be a crime under Wisconsin law,” he wrote. “These arguments fail to recognize or misinterpret Wisconsin statutes, administrative rules, and G.A.B. formal opinions. Movants have also ignored controlling Wisconsin case law. Indeed, in their submissions, movants – FOSW, Citizens for a Strong America, Inc. (CFSA), Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Inc. (WMC) and Wisconsin Manfacuturers & Commerce-Issues Mobilization Council (WMC-IMC), and Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) appear to have tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law.”
Schmitz’s filing was part of the documents made public Thursday in connection to a federal lawsuit against the state prosecutors that was brought by Wisconsin Club for Growth. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa issued a sharply-worded ruling ordering the prosecutors to halt the investigation. In language that later shocked campaign finance experts, Randa wrote that Wisconsin Club for Growth had “found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted.” Schmitz and the other prosecutors involved in the John Doe investigation have appealed Randa’s decision.
In an emailed statement to TPM, Walker’s campaign declined to directly address the contents of the documents released Thursday.
“Two judges have rejected the characterizations disclosed in those documents,” Alleigh Marré, the campaign’s press secretary, wrote.