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Sep
2016
19

Leaked John Doe Docs Prove to Everyone but Corrupt WI Courts that Gov. Walker Broke the Law

scott walker john doe

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New documents have emerged that demonstrate the far-reaching influence of corporate cash on American politics, and on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s administration in particular.

The John Doe papers, leaked to The Guardian, expose a network of corporations and mega-rich individuals who donate to third-party groups in an effort to influence elections and policy:

The John Doe files amount to 1,500 pages of largely unseen material gathered in evidence by prosecutors investigating alleged irregularities in political fundraising. Last year the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that all the documents should be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organization.

Interesting that the Wisconsin Supreme Court would attempt to have these documents destroyed given that a significant amount of money was spent maintaining a conservative Supreme Court to uphold Walker’s extreme anti-labor policies — and potentially his place in the governor’s mansion — according to the papers:

The John Doe files also provide new insight into the extensive efforts made by allies of Scott Walker to help a conservative member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, David Prosser, hang onto his seat in a 2011 re-election. A network of like-minded groups and campaigners channeled $3.5m in undisclosed corporate funds to pay for TV and radio ads backing the judge.

The push was seen as vital, the documents disclose, as a means of retaining the rightwing majority of the court and thereby preserving the anti-union measures introduced by Walker. “If we lose [Justice Prosser], the Walker agenda is toast,” one ally writes in an email sent around to the governor’s chief of staff and several conservative lobbyists.

This morning, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the bold-faced illegality of the donor network:

After the recall failed, prosecutors alleged that the Walker campaign had skirted state law by asking donors to send contributions to ostensibly independent conservative groups — primarily the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Unlike a campaign committee, these tax-exempt groups have no limits on how much money they may receive, and no requirement to publicly disclose their donors under state law. But they are not allowed to work with a campaign to urge voters to vote for a candidate, because that would essentially allow donors to funnel money toward these groups to get around contribution limits that apply to campaign committees.

Reading the emails revealed by The Guardian, it appears that is exactly what the Walker campaign did.

In one email, Kate Doner, Mr. Walker’s top fund-raiser, wrote to the governor’s advisers with suggestions on how to save Mr. Walker’s job. “Corporations. Go heavy after them to give,” she wrote. “Take Koch’s money.” And: “Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now.”

In another, Mr. Walker wrote to Ms. Doner, “I got $1 million from John Menard today,” referring to a wealthy businessman who donated that amount about a week later — as a corporate donation to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which Ms. Doner had said should be the clearinghouse for all ads in order “to ensure correct messaging.”

The papers also shed light on the mighty influence of corporate spending over Walker’s legislative agenda, and its negative impact on worker safety, according to The Guardian:

Among the new material contained in the documents are donations amounting to $750,000 to a third-party group closely aligned to Walker from the owner of NL Industries, a company that historically produced lead paint. Within the same timeframe as the donations, the Republican-controlled legislature passed new laws making it much more difficult for victims of lead paint poisoning to sue NL Industries and other former lead paint manufacturers (the laws were later overturned in the federal courts).

The Walker camp insists that there is “absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing.” So far, the Wisconsin courts appear to agree and no charges have been brought.

*draws red arrow to earlier paragraph about state supreme court collusion*

Go figure.

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