Gov. Scott Walker Under Criminal Investigation

Well this is a very interesting development, but hardly surprising. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is under investigation for a “criminal scheme” to get around campaign finance laws by coordinating his campaign with third-party groups pouring dark money into his race.

New federal court documents released Thursday reveal that Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is the subject of a “Joe Doe” investigation. Prosecutors allege Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” to circumvent state election laws. While the courts are still mulling a motion by the dark money outside groups at the center of the allegations to stop the investigation, the facts of the case are yet another demonstration of the folly of the Supreme Court’s assumptions in the infamous Citizens United ruling.

The documents show that prosecutors believe illegal coordination occurred in the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections and that groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth worked with Scott Walker’s campaign arm (“Friends of Scott Walker”) to arrange undisclosed spending by an array of pro-Walker tax-exempt organizations. They note that several individuals were working both for Friends of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth at the time, and that Walker himself boasted of the coordination in an email to Karl Rove.

This is exactly the kind of coordination the Supreme Court assumed would not happen when they struck down limits on independent groups’ political spending in 2010. In his 5 to 4 majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that outside groups running “independent” campaign ads would not lead to corruption or even the appearance of corruption. “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy. By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate,” he argued.

The reality is that this goes on all the time and it isn’t limited to Republicans. Does anyone really believe that the third-party groups putting out ads to help a candidate win don’t work with those campaigns in the back room to craft a message and a strategy? Justice Kennedy is wildly out of touch with reality.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • julial

    Scott Walker is a crooked republican.

    Phlegm at eleven.

  • Marcus Ranum

    Prosecutors allege Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” to circumvent state election laws.

    This is one of those “voter fraud” deals, right?

  • D. C. Sessions

    Hell, in 2012 the Obama campaign was totally upfront about the creation of “their” SuperPACs. And so is pretty much every campaign since Citizens United. The only fine-print variable is whether the fig-leaf campaign outfits pretend to be something else to keep their sponsors officially anonymous.

    I say, “officially anonymous” because if the Koch Brothers (to pick a name at random) contributed a few tens of millions to someone’s campaign by the back door, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in mythical regions that the beneficiary won’t know who got him elected. If he somehow didn’t know up front (yeah, right?) he’ll certainly find out Scott Walker style when payback time comes around.

  • colnago80

    When are they going to indite the Koch brothers who are behind the Club for Growth? Throw those fuckkers under a good federal jail.

  • D. C. Sessions

    When are they going to indite the Koch brothers who are behind the Club for Growth?

    Rhetorical question, right?

  • mkoormtbaalt

    Man, this criminal activity is getting out of hand. I don’t like there to be all these criminals in our politics. I think that the obvious solution to restoring the good standing of our politicians and the campaigns to get them elected is to change the law. Simply remove limits on campaign contributions and get rid of other regulations that lead to this kind of behavior. If you think about it, the only reason these people are doing anything wrong is because of the way the law is written.

  • colnago80

    Re mkcormtbaalt @ #6

    Hey, why not legalize bank robbery too?

  • mkoormtbaalt

    Re Colnago80 @ #7

    Because rich people don’t rob banks using illegal methods.

  • matty1

    Because rich people don’t rob banks using illegal methods.

    Sure they do, they just don’t use crude methods like rushing into a branch with a shot gun but the kind of tricks pulled by, for example Nick Leeson, surely qualify as robbing a bank, although to be fair I see his salary would not have put him at the top level of rich fucks.

  • Modusoperandi

    Look, money is speech. Everybody knows that. So this is just two people talking. Talking’s not illegal, is it? I mean, I talk all the time. So what’s the problem if I should happen to talk to some money and a bunch of it talks money talking money money talk money money money?

  • Kalli Procopio

    Milwaukee prosecutors are pushing the case and have already successfully gotten one of Walker’s assistants for violations of election codes, her testimony is being used against Walker. But Club for Growth is filing motions to stop the investigation in it’s tracks under the guise that the people getting the money never said the phrase, “vote for Scott Walker,” so they never advocated for him. The federal judge has been siding with Club For Growth. Walker claims the prosecutors are just engaging in partisan politics, the prosecutors are claiming the judge is in the pocket of Club for Growth.

  • dean

    Because rich people don’t rob banks using illegal methods

    Some rob you with a gun, some rob you with a fountain pen. (Woody Guthrie)

  • timberwoof

    “Because rich people don’t rob banks using illegal methods.”

    They rob banks using legal methods. It’s till robbery.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    All this proves is that we need stronger election laws to make it harder for the poor people to vote.

    …or something.

  • Matrim

    You have to be pretty stupid to be nailed for coordination, considering how easily and openly people do it.