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Wisconsin Club For Growth Squealing Like A Stuck Pig

February 10, 2014

I am reminded that where there is smoke there is usually a fire.  That thought came to mind again today when news reports concerning Wisconsin Club For Growth made headlines.

Once again this conservative group  is working to shut down a John Doe probe that is seeking to better understand and uncover the relationship and connections between right-wing groups dealing with campaign fund-raising and Wisconsin’s recent recall elections.

As is often the case with matters of this type there is an attempt to mislead the public by putting forth a false and highly inaccurate statement.  That was the case today from the Wisconsin Club For Growth.

“This secret investigation and gag order on conservative activists is intended to stop their political successes in Wisconsin,” O’Keefe said in a statement. “The state cannot be allowed to silence political speech it does not like.”

Pure horse rot.

If this probe proceeds in the fashion that many think it will the point of law that will be brought to focus is not about free speech, but instead will be about how election laws are meant to be followed, and why there can not be cozy dealings between independent political campaigns and the smarmy world of special interest groups.  That is the crux of the matter, and to spin it as something it is not only underscores the very reason this probe started, and why it must be allowed to continue.

It should be noted that Republican strategist R.J. Johnson is a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and also a consultant for both Walker and the club.  Johnson has also hinted he is a focus of the investigation.  Oink. Oink.

If there is indeed a real desire by Club For Growth to see this probe ended then they need to produce the documents that show the manner in which political operations were handled during the recall elections.  If everything was done legally there will be no problem.  If Wisconsin Club For Growth finds law and order a laudable goal then the process now underway through the John Doe probe should be honored and allowed to play out.  It is easy for people and organizations who have nothing to hide to submit to inquiries of this type.

History shows however that when weaving, dodging, and suing prosecutors all take place in federal court there is something the public is very much in need of knowing.

That is where we are tonight in Wisconsin.

After all, the average person in this state knows full well that where there is smoke…….

  1. tom permalink
    February 13, 2014 11:21 PM

    Thank you for taking the time to further explain your position. I appreciate it. I agree that when one party does not play by the rules new candidates for office are at an almost insurmountable disadvantage.

    I guess al that is left is to wait for the inevitable series of leaks and Mary Burke campaign adds.

  2. February 12, 2014 11:25 PM

    I would also just add that this probe is not partisan as documents show that while the probe started in Milwaukee, it quickly spread to four other counties and is now led by Republican and Democratic prosecutors.

  3. February 12, 2014 11:04 PM


    Thanks for the comment.

    Let me try it this way, and I suspect you might agree as to why I think the John Doe probe a needed process, one that is proper, worth the time and money. Also worthy of your support.

    When the political process does not play by a fair set of rules it makes so the outside forces are at a disadvantage. Whichever party is in office and plays by their own set of rules makes it so that the other party does not the have the same advantage. That impacts policy, but also creates the apathy and cynicism that too often controls the electorate.


    In my time at the statehouse I saw the caucus political hijinks play out daily. When I left it opened up with a massive investigation that brought down the senate majority leader (Dem.) and the assembly speaker (Rep.) Some were partisan in the way they argued the results. I applauded it from top to bottom and from all sides—politics be damned. There was a mess that needed to be known by the public, and then fixed. (To some extent it has been fixed) In the end criminal charges and fines were filed against five lawmakers and four legislative aides.

    But now it comes full circle.

    One of those that you should be caring about–as with the entire probe process– was Kelly Rindfleisch — Walker’s former deputy chief of staff when he served as Milwaukee County Exec. This is the same Kelly Rindfleisch who in 2002 was ordered to testify in exchange for not being prosecuted as part of the caucus scandal, which involved widespread illegal campaign activities on state time among legislative staffers. The first John Doe probe sought and gained insight into campaign work, such as arranging fundraisers and “robo-calls,” while on the state taxpayer clock. Rindfleisch was accused of sending or receiving more than 1,000 fundraising emails during normal work hours. She also spent a lot of time communicating with Walker’s gubernatorial campaign staff and former Rep. Brett Davis, who was running for lieutenant governor.

    One might ask how the other candidate running for that office might have felt or been impacted by the selective use of rules being ‘followed’.

    Bottom line for why that probe and this one are important. It’s blatantly unfair for sitting politicians to use their government-paid staff and resources to bolster their personal election campaigns. That’s because it gives those politicians a big advantage over their opponents who don’t have publicly-paid staff and resources to exploit.

    This second probe goes even deeper into the political process and centers around money and election laws.

    Now I hope I have made my case more clear.

  4. tom permalink
    February 12, 2014 10:37 PM

    I did not claim that the prosecutors in this case were “rogue;” I merely stated that prosecutors face very very little accountability for their actions as they are given such discretion. This should be a cause for concern and vigilance since the idea of protecting the name of the accuser as john doe probes are designed to do strain American notions of justice.

    The previous investigation which went on for two years only resulted in two violations of the campaign or election law. But there were other consequences as well. For example, strategic leaks allowed partisans such as Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) to fabricate outrage over “potentially unethical actions,” of which he presumably has no knowledge or evidence. In 2012, they enabled Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate to predict Walker will “see the inside of a jail cell before he sees the inside of another term,” shortly before Walker won his recall election and was exonerated in the first John Doe investigation. Clearly these are not non-partisan events for some.

    And who could possibly consider this an effective use of government resources? Of course all citizens must be resolute in insisting that these laws be followed, but two years work seems to amount to very little. We can expect even less, I fear, this time. I didn’t catch your post on the subpoenas which were quashed for lack of probable cause, but to me it suggests that whatever they found in the first john doe–assuming your conjecture is correct–was less than impressive to at least one judge.

    And in a political climate as highly charged as we have in Wisconsin, when prosecutors from one party go after a politician of another we should pay careful attention.

    In any instance where a citizen is wrongly detained, searched, questioned, or prosecuted (or wrongly slandered as the result of these actions) the better aims of the laws of the state have not been served because the aim of the laws of a state is to protect the rights of the citizen. I think any citizen stopped for driving while black in Whitefish Bay could confirm this.

    All this being said, it may be that the prosecutors find enough evidence to bring Walker, the Koch brothers, Mark Belling, Charlie Sykes and all the rest up on felony charges. If so then the process will have served its purpose and even I will have to concede that they were the right thing to do. But either way they will do little to change the way politics runs in the state and may well erode public faith in the justice system.

    Finally, to suggest that my comments are the product of right-wing group think is disappointing coming from you. I’m sorry if you were insulted by my comment that the left has a deep seeded hatred for Walker and conservative groups, perhaps I should have further qualified the comment. To suggest something is a “talking point” or to use some equivalent label for a comment is not to offer an effective counter argument. Where a speaker gets an idea has little to do with the validity of the idea. My suspicion has always been that when one calls something a “talking point” it is because they have no counter-argument.

  5. February 12, 2014 8:14 PM

    Probable cause is the basis for the John Doe Probe. In time we will know what promoted it, but it seems certain that it came as a result of the first probe. Wisconsin statutes allow for this investigate tool, and there is nothing sinister about it all. There is also no fact you can claim regarding anything about ‘rouge prosecutors’ That is the type of talk from conservatives who are feeling the heat of the law and are getting nervous.

    Now let us see what the first probe concluded with…….A former deputy chief of staff to Walker, pleaded guilty stealing more than $21,000, and sent to prison. Another was convicted of stealing more than $50,000 and will serve two years. One of those connect to one listed above was sentenced for contributing to the delinquency of a child. Another who worked for Walker in the county executive’s office , was sentenced to six months in jail for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system installed. It might be noted that the statehouse scandal did not teach some the lesson they should have learned, as they continued the antics. Also the one who did Walker’s constituent services at the county, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for doing campaign work while on the county clock. Then there was the president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co who was sentenced to two years of probation for violating state campaign finance laws. He pleaded guilty to exceeding campaign contribution limits in support of Walker and laundering additional campaign contributions through employees and associates.

    For anyone to pretend that none of this matters, or that such probes are needless or in some way runs counter to the better aims of the laws of this state just needs to rethink the matter. And perhaps stop listening to the right-wing group think.

  6. tom permalink
    February 12, 2014 6:52 PM

    The phrase that comes to my mind is:” One is innocent until proven guilty.”

    I think there is considerable reason for honest Americans to be deeply suspicious of any government agency conducting open-ended and secret investigations while subjecting “persons of interest” to gag orders. Regardless of ideology this should provoke very grave and serious reflection by citizens because of the great potential for the violation of civil rights and the real chilling effect it has not only on those who might be doing wrong, but also on those who follow the law but worry that they might be drawn into an investigation however innocent they are. As citizens we need to maintain a deliberate skepticism here, especially when there is little or no way to hold rogue prosecutors accountable.

    In this particular instance there is also the haunting ghost of the first two year long investigation which resulted in one woman going to jail for 6 months for violating campaign laws. One must place this “heroic” result in the context of a series of politically motivated leaks, dawn raids on the households of citizens, wrongly damaged reputations, and fortunes in legal fees.

    As Arthur Miller warns us in The Crucible: “there is great danger in seeking loose spirits. I fear it.”

    I know the Left’s deep seeded hatred for Walker and conservative organizations, but the john doe process is a very dangerous tool to play with. In my more liberal days, this was just the sort of process I was rightly taught to fear.

  7. Alan permalink
    February 10, 2014 11:04 PM

    So when are you hosting the pig roast? I’ll help you dig the hole in which to cook the pig.

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