MEMO TO REPORTERS: One Week Later – Seven Questions about Scott Walker’s “Criminal Scheme”

Jun 24, 2014

Seven days ago, Scott Walker was rocked with the worst day of his political career – due to breaking news on two fronts.

First came the release of the most recent “gold standard” federal jobs numbers that show Wisconsin ranked dead last in the Midwest in job creation under Scott Walker and just 35th in the nation overall during his first three years in office, down from 11th in the nation on the day Walker took office and inherited a recovering economy.

The data also shows that Wisconsin is growing jobs at just about half the national average and has yet to recover all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, even as the national economy and our neighbors in the Midwest like Minnesota have recovered all those jobs and then some.

Then came the second devastating blow for Scott Walker, as documents were made public for the first time that show a Republican prosecutor alleging that Scott Walker was at the center of an “expansive” national “criminal scheme” to illegally coordinate with outside special interest groups to raise and spend campaign cash in violation of election law.

In case you missed it, here’s how it’s played out: 

Walker alleged by a Republican prosecutor to be at center of nationwide “criminal scheme,” goes on the offensive.

Prosecutors point to an email sent from Scott Walker to national Republican campaign strategist Karl Rove as a smoking gun to Walker’s involvement in criminal activity. In the email, Walker explains to Rove that his top campaign aide, R.J. Johnson, was leading the coordination effort to raise and spend money in the recall elections:

“Bottom line — R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running nine recall elections and it will be like nine Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)” 

The John Doe documents also confirm that Walker’s campaign was subpoenaed by prosecutors and was one of the unnamed parties who asked that the court quash the subpoenas.

In response, Walker slammed the criminal corruption probe as a “partisan investigation with no basis in state law.”

Previously, Walker had declined to comment on the John Doe, saying, “Anyone who knows anything about a John Doe can’t talk about it. Anyone who doesn’t know anything about it shouldn’t talk about it. So, I’ve not commented on the Doe itself because I’ve abided by the law.” Politifact Wisconsin rated the “Half-True”  for his suggestion that anyone who knows any information about a John Doe can’t talk about it. 

Most recently, Politifact Wisconsin rates “False” Walker’s claim that the criminal corruption probe is “over.”

The morning after the bombshell John Doe revelations, Walker took to the air on Fox and Friends to defend himself and rail against prosecutors. Walker commented that the criminal corruption probe was over, prompting an “False” rating from Politifact Wisconsin which stated that “Walker said the secret John Doe criminal investigation of his campaign has been “resolved” and two judges have said it is “over.” His characterization is misleading at best…. We rate Walker’s statement False.” 

Also on Fox and Friends, Walker commented that two judges had stated that “they didn’t think that anything was done that was illegal.”

Republican prosecutor who alleged Walker at center of “criminal scheme” slams Walker’s argument that investigation is partisan witchhunt

A statement released through attorneys for special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, a Republican who has publicly confirmed that he voted for Scott Walker, said that Schmitz “swore an oath when he accepted his appointment to lead the John Doe investigations in accordance with the law and on behalf of the State of Wisconsin. He has kept that oath.”

The statement also says that Schmitz believes in “upholding the purpose of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws — as set out in Wisconsin Statute 11.001 — that ‘our democratic system of government can be maintained only if the electorate is informed.’ Wisconsin has a compelling interest in a campaign finance system that ‘must make readily available to the voters complete information as to who is supporting or opposing which candidate or cause.'” 

The La Crosse Tribune joins a growing chorus of editorial boards taking Scott Walker to task over allegations that he was at the center of a “criminal scheme”

The Tribune focused on the right of the public to know the origin of campaign funds: “Here is what we can say with certainty: The campaign, fundraising and election spending coordination represents the worst of what we feared with recent court decisions that ruled political contributions and election spending is a First Amendment right […] the documents are an example of how the flow of money that is nearly unchecked is used in an attempt to influence or persuade voters. It creates the potential for quid pro quo expectations that donating money results in political favors.” 

The New York Times previously also weighed in, calling Walker’s explanation of the illegal coordination scheme “laughable” and applauding Milwaukee County district attorneys for pursuing the violations. Ultimately, the Times editorial  board concurs that Walker’s scheme is nothing more than an attempt to allow the wealthiest donors to donate unlimited millions directly to candidates. 

Scott Walker’s Political Machine Slams the Media

Under siege, career politician Scott Walker put his political machine into overdrive on a desperate “blame the media” strategy. 

The faux journalists at right-wing outlets are breathlessly slamming the “mainstream” media for its bias against Scott Walker. Apparently, only Charlie Sykes, Mark Belling, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of Tea Party talk radio get what’s really happening here – other journalists are too ignorant to report the real story.

Right Wisconsin: “Journal Sentinel Editors: Spinning As Fast As They Can”

Media Trackers: “Milwaukee Editor Reveals Mainstream Media Bias Against Walker”

The Daily Caller: “Media Aids And Abets Left-Wing Smear Of Governor Scott Walker”

The Center for Media and Democracy notes that many of these conservative outlets leading the charge against the John Doe are funded by the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which is chaired by Michael Grebe, who also serves as Scott Walker’s campaign chair.

“The Bradley Foundation and its directors have given nearly $18 million to groups that are now connected to individuals involved in the John Doe investigation and the campaign against it. 

For example: 

  • Bradley donated $1,230,400 between 2009 and 2014 to the news outlets and journalists that have aggressively attacked prosecutors and the criminal investigation.
  • It has given $3,006,220 between 1998 and 2012 to groups directed or founded by Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O’Keefe, who sued in federal court to halt the investigation.
  • Bradley has donated $205,000 between 2003 and 2010 toward the George Mason University “judicial junkets” attended by U.S. Judge Rudolph Randa, the federal judge who ordered the destruction of evidence gathered in the probe, including $115,000 during the years that Randa is known to have attended.
  • Bradley board members have donated more than $100,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns, and also have close ties to the groups under investigation.”

Read the CMD analysis in its entirety here.

Given Scott Walker’s new-found ability to speak about the criminal corruption probe, here are seven questions he must answer:

  • If, as you’ve repeatedly stated, the law is clear that anyone who knows anything about the John Doe is legally prevented from talking about it, aren’t you now violating the law by discussing the Doe?
  • Since you have opened the door to talk about the Doe, will you take any and all questions from reporters that you have previously declined to answer, citing your inability to talk about the Doe?
  • You said that this kind of coordination is not illegal. So are you still doing it? If you aren’t doing it anymore, why not?
  • Why did you lie and say that the investigation is over when it is not? Are you in talks with prosecutors to reach a settlement?
  • This information was released at the request of Wisconsin Club for Growth, not because of partisan motivation on the part of the prosecutors. Did you ask CFG not to sue to make this information public? If so, why did they deny your request?
  • You were quick to condemn Mike Ellis for plotting the very same kind of coordination that is alleged by a Republican prosecutor to be a “criminal scheme.” Now you have admitted to raising and spending money in concert with the Club for Growth during the recall elections. Why was it illegal for Mike Ellis to consider this kind of coordination but not illegal for you to do it?
  • Have you reopened your criminal defense fund? If not, will you?