In newly released documents relating to the second John Doe investigation of Gov. Scott Walker and some of his closest associates, prosecutors alleged Gov. Walker was at the heart of a scheme to violate Wisconsin’s campaign laws by improperly coordinating campaign activities with outside groups.
The documents, released Thursday and part of an ongoing suit, focus on one individual in particular: R.J. Johnson, a Walker aide who prosecutors say directed activities of both Friends of Scott Walker, the governor’s campaign committee, and Wisconsin Club for Growth, a tax-exempt “social welfare” group, during the 2011 and 2012 Senate and gubernatorial recall elections in that state. Prosecutors argue that Johnson used that latter group to fund and guide the activities of several other 501(c)4 organizations, the IRS designation for such nonprofit “social welfare” groups, and that he acted as a “hub for the coordinated activities” of the groups.
Under Wisconsin law, some forms of coordination between outside groups and a candidate’s personal campaign committee are allowed but are subject to disclosure requirements, according to the filing. Not only were such contributions not disclosed, the prosecutors argue, but banned and above-limit contributions were also made and accepted. The coordination, they allege, “resulted in either prohibited and illegal in-kind or direct contributions.” Defendants argue their actions were legal and allowed under state law.
Prosecutors say Johnson was also coordinating with the Republican State Leadership Committee, the national organization that seeks to elect Republicans at the state level, at least during the 2011 state Senate recall elections. The documents cite a May 4, 2011, e-mail from Walker to political strategist Karl Rove, in which Walker allegedly praises Johnson for his work on the recall elections.
For those of you who are interested, here are the documents in question.
On the heels of the release of the John Doe II documents, Gov. Walker reelection campaign announced a $245,000 ad buy in five markets beginning tomorrow and running through July 1.
Insiders say Walker’s campaign has dropped $245,000 to air a new commercial on TV stations in five markets beginning Friday. The TV spot will run from Friday to July 1 in Madison and Milwaukee as well as Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau. It will first air around 8 a.m.
While the Walker campaign may very well have decided to do the ad buy prior to the release of the documents alleging Walker was at the heart of a “criminal scheme” to subvert campaign finance laws, the timing certainly is ironic.
And as James Rowen noted, despite the fact that these latest revelations regarding Gov. Walker were a national news story, not one of our local news stations had the story as their lede on their 10 p.m. newscasts.