Friday, June 20, 2014

Walkergate: "Pop!" Goes The Weasel

The other day, I noted that some unnamed intervenors were trying desperately to stop the release of some more of the Walkergate documents related to the ongoing investigation into illegal campaigning by Scott "The Weasel" Walker and associates.  Much to their dismay, their attempts were in vain and said documents - all 266 pages of them - were released today.

While some of the details are new and most interesting, the overall news is not new at all.

In a nutshell, the documents show that prosecutors have reason to believe that Walker and his campaign were coordinating with dark money groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth to help funnel money into state elections.  While the focus has been on the recall elections in 2011 and 2012, there are indications that this was going on for years before that.

That this was going on for a while should surprise no one. I would remind the gentle reader of the incident shortly after Walker dropped his Act 10 bomb on the state and he received a call from a person Walker thought was David Koch.  Walker showed his attitude towards illegal colluding then:
WALKER: The other thing is more long term and that is after this, um, you know, the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them but they ‘re going to need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy a good thing to do for the state so the extent that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously, that’s obviously a good thing.
The smoking gun - or to be more exact, the smoking Howitzer - is an email from Walker to Karl Rove, the advisor to George W. Bush:
The documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush, that Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson also is Walker's longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a prominent conservative group.

"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)," Walker wrote to Rove on May 4, 2011. Rove runs American Crossroads, which backs Republican congressional and presidential candidates.
Yes, you read that correctly, Walker was foolish enough to put into writing that they were breaking campaign laws.  But then again, with Walker, we always new that there was more. There's always more.

As noted above, some of the allegations is that Walker and his campaign had formed some sort of symbiotic relationship with the dark money groups in which they helped raise funds for each other and redirect those funds through a myriad of channels to help hide the source of all that dark money.  They would then use said dark money to help coordinate their campaigns to help the Teapublican politician or candidate, either by supporting them or attacking their opponents.

This is not unlike the case from California where prosecutors were able to expose and get convictions on money laundering by Koch Brothers-supported front groups.

By far, the best summary of the documents that I've seen thus far comes from Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express.  It is worth a read and I would advise the gentle reader to follow Kaiser for further updates.

There is one thing that Kaiser hadn't gotten to yet is that fact that our old friends at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) was also tied up in this:
Schmitz said Club for Growth also gave $2.5 million to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which through its Issues Mobilization Council ran ads supporting Walker and criticizing his recall opponent Tom Barrett. Schmitz also said WMC senior vice president James Buchen participated in conference calls with Walker and others involving the Senate and gubernatorial recall campaigns.

Schmitz alleged that in their court filings Walker’s campaign and other groups “tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin campaign law.”
WMC was none too happy about getting caught being involved with this little love nest of vipers:
The documents reveal that Walker’s campaign, Wisconsin Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and WMC’s Issues Mobilization Council sought to halt the John Doe investigation in state court last fall.

WMC, the state’s largest business lobby, issued a statement declining to comment on the John Doe investigation, but saying it follows campaign finance law.

“WMC wants to be explicitly clear that its grassroots lobbying activities are conducted carefully within both the letter and the spirit of state law,” the statement said. “WMC strongly disputes any allegations of wrongdoing made public today and will vigorously defend itself against any such allegations.”
Oh, puh-leeze!

Finally, there is no telling where this is going to go. The prosecutors appear to be set to push this thing through and see it to an end. However, it appears to my layman eyes that their investigation and any subsequent cases might be too compromised for them to effectively carry on.

However, that does not mean that the bad guys have gotten away with anything.  The gentle reader should keep in mind that the federal government has been helping with this investigation all along - especially since Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has refused to get involved in the entire matter.

The gentle reader should also keep in mind that just two weeks ago, US Attorney General Eric Holder was in Madison to "meet with staff at the U.S. Department of Justice offices."

Maybe it's time to say goodbye to John Doe and say hello to RICO Suave?

Either way, it's most definitely time to load up on the popcorn again!


  1. Capper, can't begin to thank you enough for all your work over the years.

    "Smoking howitzer," great line.

    I was stunned to learn of the Rove email. As the heavy investment in secrecy confirms, this whole operation was the polar opposite of free speech. It was the oligarchs trying to hide their money in phony astroturf.

  2. If Shepherd Express allowed anonymous comments this would be posted there. Maybe someone can pass it along. Reference What We’re Learning About Scott Walker in the New John Doe Documents: UPDATED

    Who is Valene Johnson? Listed as Treasurer of Citizens for a Strong America Inc on the IRS 990 for 2011. Four People listed on Part VII Section A of that 2011 990.
    Jessika Stauffacher Director
    Virginia Marschmann Director
    John Connors President
    Valene Johnson Treasurer.

    In 2011 Citizens For a Strong America Inc reported total money in of $4,620,025 and money out to 4 Wisconsin organizations (Wisconsin Family Action-$916,045, WI Right to Life- $347,582, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin-$235,000, SCI@ 21095 Watertown Rd Waukesha-$77,908. Note: The Safari Club International Wisconsin Chapter Inc apparently has the same address.Total- $1,579,035.

    Other reported expenses include "Advertising and promotion"- $2,589,945 and "Research"- $407,139. see pages 7,9,10 and Schedule I.

  3. Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express points out "Johnson and Jordahl set up a phony special interest group: Citizens for a Strong America." As PR Watch tells well in Group Called "Citizens for a Strong America" Operates out of a UPS Mail Drop but Runs Expensive Ads in Supreme Court Race?, Citizens for a Strong America ran heavy media buys of attack ads against Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg on behalf of David Prosser. Considering how Prosser won by a razor thin margin, those ads could be responsible for swinging that Supreme Court Justice race. Time for the Right Wing Dark Money Crime Syndicate to face justice!

  4. What, exactly, was Judge Randa thinking when he ordered the investigation shut down and all of the evidence burned. Highly, highly unusual. There must be evidence in there implicating him in all of this.

    1. Randa was thinking what side his bread was buttered on. In Randa's case, it is the right wing dark money billionaires who had taken good care of Randa - and now Randa had to take care of them.

    2. Randa had to take care of the Catholic priests and bishops in Wisconsin who are closely tied to Wisconsin Right-to-Life, who are preaching from the pulpit that voters will go to hell if they vote for any pro-choice candidate, and, who, I hear, have no garbage...literally. Priests have NO garbage in Wisconsin. Why IS that? Odd, doncha think?

    3. He was scratching some backs in return for his Koch junkets, which is why DOJ should be investigating him as well. And why Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan should be considering impeachment files.

  5. I seem to remember way, way back, before all of this came to light, that there was a thread between Walker and Reince Priebus. Heh, heh. Time for another one to bite the dust?

    1. And Reince is tied excruciatingly close to GOP Robin Vos his old college roommate.

  6. Scott Walker believes God wants him to cut taxes and stop abortions. Since Walker thinks he is on a Mission from God, he thinks he can do whatever he wants to win. The Ends justify the Means. From his days running for Marquette school counsel, we see it was Walker against the rules, and the rules lost.

    1. It would appear that Scott Walker needs hearing aids. What God was really telling him was that he was SAD Walker was pursuing a career in politics...not that God was GLAD Walker was pursuing a career in politics.

  7. Walker's campaign slogan:

    "Blather, Reince, Repeat"

  8. Remember folks...only PART of the Karl Rove email was referenced in the Prosecutor's filing.

    Just imaging what was in the rest of that email, or, in other as yet unreleased documents.

    You didn't really think the prosecutor would release his BEST evidence, allowing Walker lawyers months to try to explain this all away.


  9. I have long wondered if foreign money might be in the mix as it was in California.

    Thank God for the prosecutors and the GAB doing their jobs and to keeping this a matter of law and not politics.

    Can anyone get a quote from Chuck Chvala?

  10. Is Wisconsin Right to Life really just an anti-abortion group or is it a front for funneling money to the GOP?

  11. Were there "pay-to-play" aspects of the coordination, too? For example, were those who wanted legislation or an executive signature encouraged to give money to one of the issue groups with the understanding that it would benefit the elections of Walker or specific legislators?

    1. There was "pay to play" involved. While running for Governor, Walker said he would sit down and negotiate with the labor unions in the state. But after he started getting money from the various Koch-groups he changed his mind and instead decided to "drop the bomb" called Act 10.

  12. To stand with Scott Walker is to stand in quicksand.

    1. That would make a great cartoon!

    2. It could go both ways, showing WI job numbers, rural public school closings, and environmental laws changed drowning WI State with him or Walker with all these right wing groups drowning with him.

      He is the quicksand, taking everything down around him!

  13. We really need the feds to step in and do a thorough investigation and then clean house by taking it all to the legal process.

  14. Forget federal RICO, Attorney Cliff Arnebeck is still working on an Ohio Racketeering Complaint Against Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce.

    Don't let the date on this article fool you -- Arnebeck was instrumental to preventing election shenanigans in 2012 and is still working that case.

    He is trying to get Rove under oath in a deposition -- so this is dynamite.

    And those following OH elections know that Arnebeck's RICO case isn't just about illegal monies -- its about election fraud and the role of dark money .

    Remember, george WALKER bush stole the WH twice and Ohio played a key role in 2004 (because Florida was not enough).

    The fix was in for 2012 in Ohio, but it got called off at the last minute. Unknown to karl rove, the plan was abandoned as the was a court agreement to force a real recount.

    This is why karl rove famously melted down on faux, insisting that OH was going to suddenly flip from Obama to romney (video).

    Walker's admission to Rove is significant because the Ohio racketeering laws are the most strict in the America -- stronger than the Federal RICO Act because:

    1. Ohio allows related criminality in other states to be prosecuted in Ohio when racketeering crimes outside of the Buckeye State can be connected with racketeering crimes in Ohio.

    2. Ohio's law waves Statues of Limitations for related crimes as long as the current criminal activity is within the Statues of Limitations.

    So it isn't just walker uncomfortably passing bricks through their glory hole. more HERE.

    Any legitimate Criminal Investigation(s) MUST Look At Election Fraud.

    But as this unfolds, it provides fodder for a sharp attorney in Ohio that will make this about election fraud.

    h/t Richard Charnin

  15. You're spot on, Capper, to point out the embarrassment to the organization that allegedly is not a partisan, political puppet group but at last is exposed as exactly that. The WMC under mouthpiece Tim Sheehy has totally traduced its alleged role and is nothing but a money-laundering setup. Remember that whenever any of its member CEOs act as if they are lords of industry. They and Sheehy are tools and fools.

  16. Journal Communications is apparently in the same panic mode that Scott Walker & Friends are in today. Their damage control efforts will not derail this investigation, and I don't think the most sensitive information has been released to the public.
    Walker right away reportedly spent $250,000 to buy up media advertising time that would cover 12 days.
    Karl Rove has the reputation of being the dirtiest sleaze in politics (was SKW's email on public work time?), and I would think this case would have a lot of implications effecting how these big money national political operations do business. The national Club For Growth was co-founded by Bradley Foundation chair Thomas Rhodes, and WCFG certainly has somehow spent big money in trying to defend itself. It's also been reported from this records release that the national Club For Growth "raised concerns about coordination or interaction between WiCFG and FOSW as early as 2009."

    1. journal communications, the propaganda arm that delivered our divide-and-conquer governor, is going to make more of that out-of-state funded $250,000 ad buy than anyone else.

      Expect record profits at journal communications and pro-walker disinformation -- each asset spinning the lies differently for different audiences.

      But in the end -- milwaukee journal sentinel, wtmj-am, wtmj-tv, and the rest of their dishonest network will sing in harmony to deliver another term to their boy scott walker.

      And by inserting pro-walker propaganda in their content across all their disinformation arms, they will leverage the power of the bought-and-paid-for walker propaganda.

  17. old news. two judges ruling against any criminal activity. yawn.

  18. That is what Walker said this morning on Fox.

    "I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me. I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me." - Rod Blagojevich the day before he was indicted.

  19. Anon, at 1:37, so why was Gov. Walker's attorney, Steve Biskupic looking for a deal?

    Anon at 1:37, Gov. Walker used to claim he couldn't talk about the John Doe, why has that changed?

    Anon at 1:37, who else, besides Erik O'Keefe, Mike Grebe and the Bradley Foundation was Paul Gigot/Rupert Murdoch/ and the Wall Street Journal editorial board speaking for when they blasted Gov. Walker for trying to cut that deal?

  20. If memory serves correctly, the state judge stated that his decision on coordination was his view and wanted a superior court to look at it, actually encouraging an appeal. Hardly the glowing endoresement Walker is spinning.

    1. And in fact, the request for proving coordination was later provided, making that argument that it was "thrown out" irrelevant.

      The GOPs truly have nothing here to refute their crookedness, they're just stamping their feet and attacking the prosecutors, like Nixonites in the '70s

  21. I've read here and there that Walker also likely broke federal law, but I have yet to see a comprehensive analysis of which laws were broken any why. Capper, if you're reading this, perhaps you could plot down some specifics?

    1. So...a little digging:

      1) Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCFG) is a state arm of the national Club for Growth.

      2) WCFG is (as far as I can tell) a 501(c)(4) organization under federal tax law and is subject to such rules.

      3) WCFG was the primary conduit for disbursing election campaign funds to subsidiary 501(c)(4) organizations (which is kosher). All 501(c)(4)s are tax exempt.

      4) However, to be a tax exempt 501(c)(4) you must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare. Further, the earnings of a section 501(c)(4) organization may not inure to the benefit (such as an excise benefit transaction) of any individual.

      5) a) If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person.

      5) b) If Gov. Walker stood to financially benefit from the actions of the WICFG and was also shown to have substantial influence over the WICFG, an excise tax would be imposed.

      5) c) Gov. Walker getting a 150k/yr job (governorship of Wisconsin) would potentially qualify as fiscally benefiting from WISCFG's actions.

      5) d) If Gov. Walker (and cohorts) worked to cover up such influence, federal tax evasion statutes may apply.

      6) a) The promotion of social welfare does not include direct participation in political campaigns on behalf of any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. However, any expenditure it makes for political activities may be subject to tax under section 527(f).

      5) b) If Gov. Walker is shown to be coordinating WICFG to influence his election, then the WICFG may be considered to be directly participating in a political campaign on behalf of Gov. Walker.

      5) c) If documentation shows that WICFG spends 99.9% of its funds promoting the campaign, then it may be considered its primary activity.

      5) d) If b) and c) apply, then WICFG would be subject to tax law under 527(f). If WICFG worked to hide b) and c), then tax evasion law may apply.

      So, I guess federal tax evasion and conspiracy to commit tax evasion jump out at me...

    2. Ultimately tax evasion is what John Doe II is about. Donations for political activity are not tax deductible. If the donations were not claimed as tax deductible, then all these activities are legal. But the billionaires who fund Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity write off their contributions.

    3. I agree from a federal standpoint. If the feds were to bring charges, they would for tax evasion and/or conspiracy to commit tax evasion. Interesting note - such charges are prosecuted by the Department of Justice NOT the IRS. So, maybe Holder coming to the WI-DOJ was more than a meaningless photo-op.

      Now, tax evasion is very different from illegal coordination under Wisconsin law. So, from the little we know, there are at least two different statutes under which laws were violated.

      Also, it is my understanding that, even if federal appeals court agrees that the John Doe investigation violates their free speech and that the WI-SC agrees that coordination laws are unconsitutional, the feds could still bring the tax evasion charges.

      Now, this seems pretty clear. However, JD1 also made clear that Gov. Walker was at the center of a crime ring and no charges were, I'm not going to hold my breath.

  22. Anon at 9:24

    If it weren't for Eric O'Keefe and the Koch brothers filing law suits against the prosecutors we wouldn't know anything except what's in Kelly Rindfleisch's emails.

    "County staff shared sex assault victim name with Scott Walker political aides"

    Chisholm got six felony guilty pleas.

    The latest O'Keefe Koch brothers eruption on the Wall Street Journal Editorial page was from O'Keefe and the Koch brothers learning that Gov. Walker was trying to make a deal.

    County Executive Abele is supposed to start releasing the emails. My guess is that after the nation learned that Gov. Walker was emailing Karl Rove, pressure is going to amp up on Mr. Abele to release the rest of the emails in a really timely manner.

    1. Correction, should have written that D.A. Chisholm got six felons to plead on multiple counts. The evidence against each was so robust that none of them wanted to go to trial. Will be interesting with the latest revelations to see if any of them re-calibrate their loyalty to Gov. Walker, and others.

  23. Norm Goldman gives us his legal analysis on what's going on in Wisconsin Scott Walker John Doe Case

    For those who want to jump right to it, it begins about 10 minutes into the podcast... note timer and scroll bar to slide or jump ahead on the audio bar.

    Read more:

    PS; Battle in the Badger State

  24. ABC news posted an article and video of Mary Burke's stating it is Scott Walkers worst Nightmare... here's link

    I posted a follow up comment that they chose not to post... by advisement I believe as the moderator initially posted it; then someone in a higher position deleted it... I tried reposting it and it is still being considered.

    It was short and sweet and went something like this:

    Here is his second worst nightmare:

    i.e., evidence of collusion. click link to learn more.