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.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.
"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.
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.WMC was none too happy about getting caught being involved with this little love nest of vipers:
Schmitz alleged that in their court filings Walker’s campaign and other groups “tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin campaign law.”
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.Oh, puh-leeze!
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.”
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!