Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Scott Walker appeared on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning to defend himself against Thursday’s bombshell national news story that he is at the center of a “criminal scheme” to evade campaign finance law.
The news broke after a federal court released new documents, including an excerpted email from Walker to Karl Rove explaining that Walker campaign adviser R.J. Johnson, also a consultant to the Club for Growth, was coordinating political efforts in the 2011 state senate recall elections.
The email is particularly significant since Walker, in his own words, places himself at the center of the alleged illegal effort to coordinate with outside groups that have injected millions of dollars into the state on his watch.
(A first John Doe investigation resulted in the conviction of six of Walker’s closest aides and associates from his time as Milwaukee County Executive, but ended without an indictment against Walker for allegedly doing illegal campaign work on the public dime.)
In the email to Rove, Walker writes:
“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.
On “Fox & Friends,” Walker claimed that the investigation and court cases in the John Doe were over.
“This is a case that’s been resolved,” he said.
“For a case that does not exist anymore, it’s not going anywhere, and they are just opening it up—it looks like they’re just trying to trash you,” the host added helpfully.
“This is a prime example of what happens when you take on the big government special interests,” Walker said. “They’re looking for ways to come at us. They’ll continue to do it. . . . Many in the media are willing accomplices.”
In fact, the John Doe investigation has not been resolved, nor are the court cases surrounding it over.
Walker invoked Federal Judge Rudolph Randa’s ruling that the investigation is unconstitutional and should not go forward.
But Randa’s ruling is on appeal and, in an emergency action, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Randa’s order that prosecutors destroy evidence in the ongoing investigation.
Randa, as my colleague Brendan Fischer has reported, is an ideological conservative and the only federal judge in the state who regularly attends all-expense-paid, Koch brothers-funded judicial junkets that propound a rightwing political agenda.
Thursday’s documents emerged from communications prosecutors obtained that Randa sought to have destroyed.
Wisconsin law clearly forbids coordination between candidates, their campaigns, and outside groups that can spend unlimited money on political advertistng.
Club for Growth has sued to stop the investigation from moving forward, claiming that it has no merit. The Federal court released the new documents on Thursday, with the club’s assent, as it evaluates the merits of the investigation.
Rightwing outlets including the Wall Street Journal have editorialized that state campaign finance laws such as Wisconsin’s are a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
If the investigation of the corrupting influence of outside groups in Wisconsin politics is not allowed to proceed, campaign finance law in the state will mean nothing.