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Six Walker Associates Guilty in John Doe Cases, So GOP Guts Power of John Doe With New Bill

Gov. Walker shows young students the Republican playbook

Gov. Walker shows young students the Republican playbook

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On Friday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a Republican-backed bill which eliminates many of the tools prosecutors use to investigate political corruption under the state’s John Doe law.  The vote fell on party lines, passing 61-to-36 in the Assembly and 18-to-14 in the Senate.  Prosecutors will no longer be allowed to use the law in cases that include bribery and misconduct in office.  Investigations will also now be limited to 6 months and subjects of the investigation will no longer be barred from speaking publicly.  

Speaking to the New York Times Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause Wisconsin, argued that the state’s John Doe law previously allowed prosecutors to investigate political corruption that may not have been pursued otherwise:

“What this new law does is it exempts from the John Doe process crimes that are committed involving elections, campaign finance and ethics.  In other words, the crimes that politicians would be most likely to commit. They have carved out a special exemption for themselves.”

The changes to the John Doe law were decried by the state’s Democratic leaders, such as House minority leader Peter Barca: “I fear for the future of democracy in Wisconsin, and I am not overstating the problem, in my judgment.”

In a statement, Senate minority leader Jennifer Shilling said the bill to limit John Doe is “a gross abuse of power,” adding, “Republicans should be less concerned about covering up Governor Walker’s political scandals and more focused on helping hard working Wisconsin families.”

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see how brazen the change was. John Doe investigations have led to the convictions of six aides or associates of Scott Walker. Investigations have uncovered coordination between Walker’s employees and national figures like Reince Priebus and Mark Block.  In January of 2012 we published a detailed report of the first John Doe investigation’s findings.

A second John Doe Investigation looked into wrongdoings of the Walker campaign and its coordination with “social welfare groups” during his recall election.  The investigation charged that Walker’s campaign exhibited “flagrant disregard” for state campaign finance laws, though the state Supreme Court quashed the case claiming it violated free speech rights.

Walker, fresh off his short-lived attempt to run for president, returned to the governor’s mansion with an axe in hand. The John Doe hack-job followed his and his fellow legislative butchers killing what was originally a bipartisan plan to ensure clean government in Wisconsin.


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