But in October, news broke that there was another John Doe, or to be more accurate, five more John Doe probes, being conducted. Precious little was known about these newly discovered investigations. What we did know was that the investigations involved possible illegal collaboration between the Koch Brothers - Bradley Foundation-supported front groups such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity and the political campaigns of at least one of the recalled Republicans.
Trying to get a grasp of what was going on was greatly hindered by the fact that the possibilities were so vast and the network of these front groups and the politicians were so immense, it was hard to keep it all straight. Another issue was that the credibility of the sources of information was dubious at best. Unlike Walkergate, these investigations started to leak like a sieve. Sadly, the leaks were all right wing operatives, some who were claiming to be the subjects of the investigations. To complicate things further, they were leaking to the right wing front groups and propagandists, adding to the doubt.
Fortunately for us, Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express was digging into it already. Kaiser was the first to point to some of the central people/groups that were part of the investigation. She pointed out that Eric O'Keefe, who has claimed to be one of the subjects of the investigation, was the head of Wisconsin Club for Growth and has ties to the Sam Adams Alliance, which in turn funds the Franklin Center and by extension, Wisconsin Reporter.
Kaiser also pointed out the enmeshment of R.J. Johnson, who was a consultant to Scott Walker's campaign as well as involved with Wisconsin Club for Growth. Johnson was one of the people regularly copied into the emails that were flying between Walker's campaign and his county staff.
Kaiser went on to take a closer look at the front groups and their levels of enmeshment with each other. She was also able to confirm that the Koch Brothers were indeed funneling dark money into Wisconsin to influence the recall elections.
The right wingers threw everything they could at the Does to at least impede, if not completely stop, the investigations. They ran a damage control barrage on squawk radio and through their various propagandists. They also hired some very expensive attorneys to challenge the dot on every "i" and the cross on every "t."
A little less than a month ago, retired Appeals Court Judge Gregory Peterson ruled against the Does. In his ruling, Peterson found that the prosecutors did not provide sufficient cause to believe that a crime was committed. As a result, he squashed the subpoenas that had been issued to, y'know, help investigate if a crime was committed.
The right wing was ecstatic. Charlie Sykes and his White Wisconsin went on for days and days, claiming that this was some sort of victory for Freedom of Speech. We heard how this was all some sort of political witch hunt aimed at Republicans. They even went so far as to try to have White Wisconsin and former ALEC operative Brian Fraley act the martyr because - insert dramatic music here - a reporter asked him a question!
I found all of their antics to be particularly irritating, but especially their painting of themselves as martyrs. These are the same schmucks that would go after the likes of Professor William Cronon for daring to expose the workings of ALEC. They also went after me for daring to report the truth about Scott Walker. Yet when they break the law, they think they should somehow be exempt?
Even though their antics were annoying, I held my tongue, knowing that that when it comes to these types of things, there's more. There's always more.
On Thursday, the "more" came out.
Among the legal flailings of the right wing martyrs was that it was illegal to have a special prosecutor to run a John Doe investigation and that it was illegal for said special prosecutor and John Doe judge to run investigations in several counties at once.
Three appellate court judges ruled against most of these motions, finding that there were actually five different investigations going on even though they shared some commonality. They also found that the special prosecutor took away the concerns of politics being the motivation for the investigation ans well as helped streamline the operations for everyone involved.
But the court also ordered that some of the court documents should be unsealed. These documents include:
- The motion to stay the investigation,
- A memo to support their petition to stay the investigation,
- The response of the John Doe judges to the petition, and
- The response from the special prosecutor to the petition.
Unfortunately, the unsealed documents don't reveal any more specifics about who is being investigated or what they might have supposedly done except for ""suggested criminal campaign finance violations may have been committed by residents of Columbia, Dane, Dodge and Iowa counties."
But some of the unsealed documents do reveal that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm asked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen a second time to get involved in the investigation. Van Hollen again denied this request, claiming that his office could not act with impartiality regarding the case. And this was long before his office got tapped to represent the judges that they right wingers were suing in their efforts to impede justice.
Keep in mind that Van Hollen often was involved with various political campaigns. It should make one wonder if what he knew of the Son of Doe investigations led to his decision to not seek reelection. The question would be because he was part of the shenanigans or because he wants the job of someone who was involved with the shenanigans.
There are a couple of other tidbits that are worth keeping in mind.
One is that Van Hollen tried to dump the investigations onto the Government Accountability Board even though they do not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations, much less prosecute anyone. With all the attacks on the GAB by the Republicans and their efforts to make it a more political entity, I wonder how much these investigations played into their motivation for doing so. I think it's not unreasonable to question if they were trying to rig the system. It would, after all, fit perfectly into their modus operandi.
The other thing to keep in mind is that two of the DA's requesting the John Doe proceedings and the use of a special prosecutor are Republicans. This is in no way a political witch hunt or an attack on anyone's Freedom of Speech as the Republicans and their propagandists are trying to portray it to be.
Rather, this is a legitimate investigation into possible crimes against our democracy.