Sunday, April 26, 2015

Walkergate: How Partisan Is John Doe?

As noted earlier, Scott Walker and his right wing apologists are scared witless about an upcoming decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court about the ongoing John Doe investigations into Walker's illegal collaboration with dark money groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth.

In an effort to stem the bad press that will come with the court's rulings, win or lose, the right wing has gone on the offensive to start the damage control and trying to control the spin. Among these propagandists is David French, who wrote some horrible dreck for the National Review. Besides the over the top melodrama and flights of imagination, French included another utterly false talking point from Team Walker - that the investigation and subsequent criminal convictions are the result of a partisan witch hunt:

t all began innocently enough. In 2009, officials from the office of the Milwaukee County executive contacted the office of the Milwaukee district attorney, headed by John Chisholm, to investigate the disappearance of $11,242.24 from the Milwaukee chapter of the Order of the Purple Heart. The matter was routine, with witnesses willing and able to testify against the principal suspect, a man named Kevin Kavanaugh.

What followed, however, was anything but routine. Chisholm failed to act promptly on the report, and when he did act, he refused to conduct a conventional criminal investigation but instead petitioned, in May 2010, to open a “John Doe” investigation, a proceeding under Wisconsin law that permits Wisconsin officials to conduct extensive investigations while keeping the target’s identity secret (hence the designation “John Doe”).


At the same time that the public protests were raging, so were private — but important — protests in the Chisholm home and workplace. As a former prosecutor told journalist Stuart Taylor, Chisholm’s wife was a teachers’-union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms. He said Chisholm “felt it was his personal duty” to stop them.

Meanwhile, according to this whistleblower, the district attorney’s offices were festooned with the “blue fist” poster of the labor-union movement, indicating that Chisholm’s employees were very much invested in the political fight.
Unfortunately, French is just repeating misinformation that has been utterly debunked.

The John Doe did not begin with Walker asking District Attorney John Chisholm to look into the theft of money from a veterans fund. The investigation started when Walker started to stonewall the investigation by refusing to release requested emails and documents.

As far as the myth that the investigation and prosecutions were due to unionism, eye witnesses thoroughly discredited those allegations. On top of that, the supposed "whistleblower" whom French refers to was a disgruntled former employee who was suffering from PTSD and alcoholism and who had made death threats against Chisholm and his family.

It later turned out that these accusations were nothing but a campaign gimmick to promote Walker's name and set up the story line they are now using.

As for the mewling that John Doe is partisan, that couldn't be any further from the truth. The fact is that three of the five district attorneys working on the John Doe are Democrats while the other two are Republicans. The special prosecutor that the DAs hired to handle the case is a Republican who openly states he voted for Walker in the recall.

Furthermore, all of the judges that authorized the John Doe investigations are Republican, including James Daley, the Republican candidate who lost his bid for the state supreme court earlier this month. In addition, all of the members of the Government Accountability Board, which oversaw the investigations, are Republicans.

The only way that this could be a partisan witch hunt is if Walker turned out to be a partisan witch, which at this point, wouldn't surprise me in the least.


  1. Even in the original 1970s Watergate scandal, it quickly became clear to centrist/independent onlookers that the only partisan wrongdoing was on the part of the President's teams — burglaries, deceptions, and overall planning — not on the part of the pursuers; and even honest Republicans stood against this, in Congress and a few within the Administration itself (e.g. AGs Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus in refusing to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, John Dean at the hearings).

    Now in Walkergate, the same will be clear: the perpetrators were the partisans, the Walker campaign out to win by any means available. The number of Republicans on the investigative team is readily pointed out again and again.

  2. Capper, thanks so much for your take on this. Your depth of knowledge is deeply appreciated.