Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

More Evidence John Doe is Bipartisan

Court filings release more information showing investigation of Walker and conservative groups is not partisan.

By - Apr 21st, 2014 12:24 pm
Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

John Doe II, the investigation of the 2012 recall campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and supportive conservative third party groups, continues to be decried as a “partisan witch hunt” by conservative critics. Meanwhile the endless court cases this investigation has generated provide ever more evidence it is a bi-partisan effort.

Last week we learned from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Francis Schmitz, the special prosecutor in the John Doe, voted for Walker in the recall election and was once a member of the Republican Party. Schmitz also disclosed that back when he was still working for the U.S. Department of Justice, he assisted local law enforcement investigating potential threats to Walker during the controversy over Act 10, the law restricting collective bargaining for state employees. “I generally supported the Governor’s efforts to balance the State budget,” Schmitz wrote.

Schmitz, as I’ve previously noted, had also been one of Republican President George W. Bush’s final three recommended candidates to become the U.S. Attorney for Milwaukee.

And this is the guy calling the shots on the John Doe probe. “While I have sought input and counsel from others involved in the investigation, I have made the final decisions on what actions to take and the content of pleadings and other filings,” Schmitz wrote in a brief filed with a federal appeals court.

Last week, we also learned, from another brief, this time filed by Dean Nickel, an outside investigator hired to help on the Doe probe, that five members of state Government Accountability Board voted unanimously last year to authorize the Doe investigation. The sixth member of the board was absent and didn’t vote, the story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The GAB’s members are all retired judges, and the legislature’s intent was to assure it made its decisions in a non-partisan manner. Four of the six members, however, have Republican ties. Yet Republicans complained that the board was not sympathetic enough to their party’s concerns, and so they quietly got rid of David Deininger, the board chair, a former Republican legislator who was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. The move was reported by Steven Walters for Urban Milwaukee.  Given the timing, one can’t help suspect the GAB vote to approve the Doe investigation may have precipitated the ouster of Deininger by Walker and the Republican-led Senate.

The other board members, whose background can be checked here, include Thomas Barland, a former GOP legislator, Gerald C. Nichol, a former Republican District Attorney, and Elsa Lamelas, who was first appointed a judge by Gov. Thompson. The two other board members, Michael Brennan and Timothy Vocke, were appointed to office by Democratic Gov. Patrick Lucey. Deininger was replaced by Harold Froelich, who spent years as a Republican, including as Assembly Speaker and as a congressional representative.

It’s not clear which board member was absent when the vote was taken, but none of them voted against the investigation. This adds yet more evidence that this is a non-partisan probe. As I’ve previously written:

-Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm, whose office initiated the probe, is also working with four other DAs in this multi-county probe, including  Republicans Jane Kohlwey of Columbia County and Kurt Klomberg of Dodge County.

-Chisholm and company wanted Republican Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to lead the probe, but he turned them down, though only after considering the request for five months and then declining not because it was questionable investigation, but because he might have had a conflict of interest.

-Chisholm has a history of also going after Democrats and liberals, with prosecutions against Milwaukee county supervisors Johnny Thomas and Toni Clark, and former Milwaukee alderman Michael McGee, Jr.

Last week’s revelations were part of a a filing by lawyers representing Chisholm and other Doe investigators asking a federal appeals court to intervene in and dismiss a federal suit against them by the conservative Club for Growth and one of its directors, Eric O’Keefe. O’Keefe, as I’ve reported, is a wealthy activist with  a long background wielding power in a variety of libertarian and conservative groups that have targeted incumbent politicians with attack ads.


2 thoughts on “Back in the News: More Evidence John Doe is Bipartisan”

  1. Jerry says:

    It seems more than coincidence that Walker would withdraw his nomination of Deininger for the GAB and coming up with the rationale that the Senate would not confirm him. Also at this same time Fitzgerald floated the idea that the GAB members NO LONGER BE NONPARTISAN FORMER JUDGES BUT RATHER THE MEMBERS BE POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS BY THE GOVERNOR! Sounds like they found out that the GAB had voted to authorize the John Doe probe and were exercising retribution in response as Walker has done in other instances. The media doesn’t want to print this as a possible scenario so Walker again is afforded the benefit of creating a stalemate on an issue and is not called to be accountable for his actions.

  2. Neil says:

    Bruce also believes in the Easter Bunny.

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