Months after Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisconsin, survived a recall election, Milwaukee County prosecutors, led by District Attorney John Chisholm, D-Milwaukee County, began a secret John Doe investigation into the campaign.
The investigation was eventually assigned to special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, who has described himself as a Republican who voted for Walker.
According to court records unsealed this week, Schmitz argued in a December filing that Walker and several conservative groups were part of a “…criminal scheme…” that included “…criminal violations of multiple elections laws…“
The alleged violations involved “…close coordination…” between Walker’s campaign and outside groups, include the conservative group the Wisconsin Club for Growth.
But the case is now on hold after two separate judges ruled there was no evidence of criminal activity.
In January, the state judge in the John Doe case threw out several subpoenas ruling they “…do not show probable cause…” that any laws were violated.
The judge ruled “There is no evidence of express advocacy.” Express advocacy means ads that specifically tell someone who to vote for or against.
After that ruling, the Wisconsin Club for Growth filed a federal lawsuit arguing that its free-speech rights were being violated by the investigation.
In May, a federal judge sided with the Wisconsin Club for Growth and put a stop to the John Doe investigation.
The federal judge ruled that the since group was involved in “…issue advocacy…” it is “…not subject to the regulations…” prosecutors were trying to enforce. The judge ruled that prosecutors “…interpretation…” of campaign laws “…is simply wrong.”
That same judge criticized prosecutors on Thursday for no longer supporting the secrecy order saying prosecutors “…appear to seek refuge in the Court of Public Opinion, having lost in this Court on the law.”
Walker, who is viewed as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, went on the FOX News Channel Friday morning to talk about the investigation.
“Both judges said they didn’t buy the argument. They didn’t think anything was done that was illegal so they’ve not only said we don’t buy it, but they actually shut the case down both at the state and federal level,” Walker said.
That hasn’t stopped Walker’s opponents from trying to capitalize on the case.
“Basically what happened was is that they got caught and they are trying to use any and all legal arguments to try and get the case thrown out so they can save their bacon. It’s very simple,” said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.
Walker says the case is closed.
“This is a case that’s been resolved. Not one, but two judges have said it’s over,” Walker said.
The decision by the federal judge is being appealed.