Wisconsin's Governor Walker and the possibility of a recall

Ulairi wrote:

But, for a lot of this stuff what is right/wrong is entirely subjective. Is the Public Employees no longer being able to bargin for benefits a right/wrong thing? Depending on your point of view.

Then be consistent on your view. You can't support the right for Wall Street to give its employees obscene salaries and bonuses on the principle that you have to pay through the nose to get good talent and then turn around and claim that every government employee should barely make more than minimum wage because they're paid with taxpayer dollars. Either high salaries attract good talent or it doesn't.

Beyond that, there wasn't really a discussion about the actual issue for Wisconsin and most states: that the retirement and healthcare benefits for public employees were getting expensive (like they are for the private sector as well). Where was the discussion about phasing out public pensions in favor of 401(k)s to limit the state's exposure? Where was the discussion about using the state's size to negotiate better health insurance? It wasn't there because that wasn't the true issue. The issue was to break public unions to dry up political donations that go largely to Democrats.

OG_slinger wrote:

Beyond that, there wasn't really a discussion about the actual issue for Wisconsin and most states: that the retirement and healthcare benefits for public employees were getting expensive (like they are for the private sector as well). Where was the discussion about phasing out public pensions in favor of 401(k)s to limit the state's exposure? Where was the discussion about using the state's size to negotiate better health insurance?

I know it's not quite the question you're asking, but there were GWJ discussions related to several of these points starting here or thereabouts.

Ulairi, this thread is one of the best sources you'll find for info on the recall. This very thread. If you're not using this as a major source, you're blowing it.

Think that most of the John Doe investigation stuff has been in this thread, so in the interest of not spinning up extraneous threads decided to post this here:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]A state Appeals Court panel Tuesday denied a bid by Kelly Rindfleisch, a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker, to have her felony misconduct charges dismissed based on a decade-old immunity deal.

The District I Appeals Court declined to consider Rindfleisch's challenge of a pretrial ruling by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher, who ruled July 3 that Rindfleisch's 2002 immunity deal didn't apply to future crimes.

Franklyn Gimbel, Rindfleisch's lawyer, had argued that immunity she got from prosecution in the decade-old state Capitol caucus scandal precluded her from facing similar charges dating to 2010, when Rindfleisch was deputy chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Walker. She is accused of working on campaign fundraisers while at her taxpayer-paid county post.

Her 2002 immunity deal applied to a probe of state lawmakers and legislative aides doing campaign work on state time. Rindfleisch worked for Republican legislators and for the Assembly and Senate caucus staffs, before turning to consulting and then taking the job at the county with Walker.

Wow! Where do I get me one of those? An indefinite immunity deal?

fangblackbone wrote:

Wow! Where do I get me one of those? An indefinite immunity deal?

I'm an immunity agent. Paypal me 300 bucks and I'll email you a PDF of your immunity certificate, good against all future scandals.

He's not the *real* immunity agent, he's a French imposter. And anyway, I only charge $250.

Once I get my deal, can't I just kill you afterwards and/or steal the my money back?

IMAGE(http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/boy-that-escalated-quickly.jpg)

I got immunity for violating the law once, therefore I am above the law.

"The law? I AM THE LAW!!!"

Think this is where most of the "John Doe" investigation updates have gone, and I'm loathe to create a new thread at this point just for the "John Doe" stuff, though I can if folks feel really strongly about it.

Local News site Dane101.com[/url]]A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker will enter a plea of guilty today for at least one of the four felony charges against her in Milwaukee County court, sources confirmed.

Kelly Rindfleisch will be the second campaign aide to then-County Executive Walker to plead guilty to campaigning from her county job on behalf of both Brett Davis' bid for lieutenant governor and Walker's run for governor.

Rindfleisch's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on late Tuesday that a deal had been reached with the prosecution, though declined to discuss details other than to say it included "a lot of a la cartes."

A plea hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The news comes just days after it was confirmed that the defense had issued a subpoena to Walker to have him take the stand and testify in the jury trial that had been scheduled to begin next week. Sources also indicated that Walker's attorney had been intending to file a motion to dismiss the subpoena. Rindfleisch's plea deal, however, will negate the need for the trial.

The episode is just the latest in a series related to the ongoing John Doe investigation that circles around several of Walker's former and current aides, and possibly Walker himself. The governor has denied being a target of the investigation, though evidence that he may in fact be has been presented.

I believe at this point 6 close aides to Governor Walker are still charged with a total of 15 felonies (though the felony count will drop to 12 after Rindfleisch's plea deal).

Also, at least 13 people have been granted immunity in the John Doe investigation in return for their cooperation.

As a reminder, Governor Walker has maintained all along that he is cooperating with the investigation and that he is not the target of the investigation[color=red]*[/color]. He did establish a legal defense fund in March of this year, however - and in Wisconsin, that's only allowed in very specific circumstances.

Wisconsin Law, §11.64(1)[/url]]Any candidate or public official who is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of this chapter or ch. 12, or whose agent is so investigated, charged or convicted, may establish a defense fund for expenditures supporting or defending the candidate or agent, or any dependent of the candidate or agent, while that person is being investigated for, or while the person is charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of this chapter or ch. 12.

In layman's terms, a politician in Wisconsin is only allowed to set up a legal defense fund when they're the one under investigation (or have already been charged).

[color=red]*[/color] More correctly, Governor Walker has actually said that he hasn't been told directly one way or the other, but that his attorneys have told him that they have been told that he isn't the target of the investigation.

If the law is that clear regarding the defense fund, how does that jive with him denying he is a target? Either his defense fund is legal and he is a target, or it is illegal. What is the penalty/recourse for having an illegal defense fund?

Are there any other statutes that say that a politician may only set up a legal defence fund if he is being investigated? That statute doesn't appear to say that. It appears to say that a politician who is ineistigated may set up a fund. Not that they can *only* do it if they are being investigated.

LeapingGnome wrote:

What is the penalty/recourse for having an illegal defense fund?

An investigation. Instantly legitimizing the defense fund, so usually prosecutors don't even bother following up.

mudbunny wrote:

Are there any other statutes that say that a politician may only set up a legal defence fund if he is being investigated? That statute doesn't appear to say that. It appears to say that a politician who is ineistigated may set up a fund. Not that they can *only* do it if they are being investigated.

Think I've posted this elsewhere, but easier to just post again. Though Governor Walker has indicated that the legal defense fund was set up based on guidance from the GAB, he was unwilling to share what that guidance was, and the GAB has indicated that they're not allowed to disclose what legal advise a politician might have solicited from them (though the politician would be free to do so). So, Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach wrote directly to the GAB, inquiring under what conditions he would have been allowed to set up a legal defense fund.

GAB's response to Jon Erpenbach[/url] (PDF warning)]Based upon the above-quoted statutory language, a candidate or official may establish a legal defense fund for the following purposes:

1. If the candidate or public official is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of Chapter 11 of the Statutes, which establishes campaign finance rules, including contribution limits and registration and reporting requirements.

2. If the individual is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of Chapter 12 of the Statute, which prohibits certain election practices, including election threats, election bribery, and election fraud.

3. If the candidate of public official's agent is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of Chapter 11 of the Statutes.

4. If the candidate or public official's agent is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation of Chapter 12 of the Statutes.

I expect the Governor's legal team is relying on the potential ambiguity about what constitutes an "agent", though they have previously denied that they will be paying the legal bills for his current or former aides.

Governor Walker dissolved the Wisconsin Department of Commerce not long after taking office, creating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in its stead - claiming this would be more nimble, responsive, and supportive of business needs, which would be a key part of being able to deliver on his pledge to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin.

WEDC got in some hot water late last month, when it was revealed that they kept board members in the dark about federal investigations into potential violations in how it handled millions of dollars under its control.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]HUD officials say the economic development corporation spent nearly $10 million in federal funds without legal authority during an eight-month period, did not perform underwriting before giving assistance to a business, does not have proper fiscal controls and transferred $8.6 million into one of its accounts without approval.

DOA chief counsel Greg Murray told WEDC board members during the conference that the state was not in danger of losing federal funding but did have "some challenges" that it needed to resolve.

In a letter sent late Wednesday, Paul Radspinner, president and chief executive officer of FluGen Inc., wrote that he and other WEDC board members should have been told long ago of the issues, which were first raised by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development more than a year ago. The board met as recently as last week but was never given detailed information about the problems, which came to light publicly Wednesday.

"It is unconscionable that the WEDC staff would consider this issue not important enough to share with the board at the June meeting let alone last week's meeting," Radspinner wrote.

During the conference call, Radspinner told Walker that he had received a phone message from the governor and thanked him for it. Walker told other board members by telephone that he had been briefed on the ongoing HUD issues but hadn't been aware of an Aug. 16 letter from HUD laying out its concerns in tough language.

On Thursday morning, Walker downplayed the decision not to tell board members about the "routine" exchanges with HUD, saying the time to bring it to them was when they needed to take action on it and that the issue was being "hyped" by news coverage. But the governor decided to hastily put the issue before the board on its agenda for an already scheduled meeting Thursday.

During the afternoon conference call, Huebsch said he spoke with HUD earlier in the day and pointed out that the letters from HUD were to the Department of Administration, not the economic development corporation. After the meeting, WEDC's chief operating officer, Ryan Murray, said that his agency had been "following DOA's lead" in not informing its board about the problems. Documents show WEDC was also informed of the problems directly by HUD.

More bad news for the troubled agency today, as it has come to light that WEDC lost track of at least $8 million in overdue loans (amounting to 16% of the agency's total loan portfolio).

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]The loans that are past due by at least 30 days - and in some cases much longer than that - amount to 16% of the state agency's total loan portfolio of $51 million in loans, said Ryan Murray, the WEDC's chief operating officer. Murray said he learned from staff late last week that the agency had stopped systematically tracking its loan collection efforts and has no records on those efforts since June 2011, the month before the WEDC started.

The agency is still determining how much taxpayers are owed on the largely state-funded loans and how much is past due. The failure was discovered as the agency prepared materials for an ongoing legislative audit, Murray said, adding that the agency is still investigating how the mistakes were made, why it took so long to discover them and what will happen to those employees who failed to keep tabs on the taxpayer-funded loans.

"Clearly, a ball was dropped here a year ago but the system worked in uncovering it," said Murray, who went on to clarify what he meant. "The system to detect this worked but the system to collect on loans obviously did not."

But Democrats were incredulous at the failure at the WEDC, which has been repeatedly touted by Walker as an agency that would be run like a business.

"It's a horrendous abuse of the public trust," Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) said. "If it had happened at a private business, heads would roll, not just one head but many heads."

Murray agreed there was "clearly a personnel situation here," though he didn't offer more details about how it would be handled.

Murray said that he had informed Walker, who is also the chairman of the WEDC, late last week about the loan problems and that on Wednesday he had informed the WEDC's board members about it. A spokeswoman for Walker did not respond to a request for comment.

But Paul Jadin, the head of the WEDC, didn't mention the blunder when he testified at length Wednesday morning before the Legislature's Joint Audit Committee, which was holding a hearing on an earlier audit of the WEDC that focused largely on whether the agency was being transparent and accountable to taxpayers about its subsidies to businesses.

Murray, who was also present at the hearing, said that Jadin didn't discuss the issue because WEDC officials wanted to first inform the agency's board. The WEDC board will take up the issue at its Friday board meeting.

Richards, who sits on the audit committee, said Jadin should have told the lawmakers.

"Now it just looks like they're hiding something. It's fishy," Richards said. "Something that big? It's huge."

Definitely nimble. Probably supportive to "business needs" familiar to any Central Asian border official. And now, they're responsive!

Two updates that, for lack of a better location, are going in this thread.

First up: the John Doe probe finally wrapped earlier this month, with no additional charges being filed. Judge Nettesheim did not disclose who the "John Doe" in question actually was, and has ordered that the John Doe secrecy rules remain in effect for all testimony and documents pertaining to the case.

Nettesheim said the investigation focused on three issues.

He said prosecutors wanted to know if employees of the Wisconsin Southern Railway and its president and owner William Gardner had made illegal contributions to Walker's campaign fund and others. They also were focused on political activity by Walker aides while on the clock for taxpayers and suspected theft of funds set aside for veterans' events.

Under the judge's direction, the order closing the investigation was made public. Otherwise, the John Doe secrecy order remains in effect for testimony and documents in the case.

Dean Strang, a criminal defense attorney who represented Gardner, called for the release of documents uncovered by prosecutors.

"I hope some of the products of the investigation become public so we can assess as a body politic what we should make of those who were under investigation and those who did the investigating," said Strang, a veteran Madison lawyer. "The reasons for secrecy are either over or fading rapidly."

The governor disagreed, saying Chisholm didn't need to release more records from the investigation.

I'm in general strongly in favor of government transparency, and I agree with Mr. Strang. I would like to see documentation released so the public can determine for themselves whether this was a witchhunt (as Walker supporters have alleged), or if there were additional issues in play that the DA opted not to bring charges for. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which has been fairly consistent in their support for the WI GOP throughout the protests, agrees.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]Some of those emails may relate purely to the campaign. But our guess is that a healthy number relate to county policy and the workings of county government. Sadly, we have to say "our guess" because they're still under lock and key and no one outside the investigation knows.

And let's be clear: Emails that relate to county government and policies should be, as a matter of course, always open to public scrutiny. The John Doe is over; there is no longer any good reason to keep them secret.

But there is good reason to open them. Walker's then-chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, in an email written the day of the O'Donnell Park accident, advised Walker's county staff to "make sure there is not a piece of paper anywhere that details any problem at all."

What if there were? Were such pieces of paper suppressed? No one knows. News organizations and lawyers representing victims and others filed numerous open record requests after the O'Donnell Park accident for inspection reports and other documents on its construction. But because it was part of the secret system, Gilkes' email only came to light as part of the John Doe.

Additionally, this week Governor Walker's Department of Administration appears to be gearing up for another escalation in their weird vendetta with the Solidarity Singers, who gather in the Capitol building daily at noon (except on Fridays, or when another group has reserved the Capitol rotunda) to sing songs and protest the actions of the Wisconsin GOP.

Capitol Times[/url]]Because the rule changes are being proposed as an emergency rule, they do not need legislative approval, which means no public hearing will be held on the changes before they become law.

“One thing that should be abundantly clear, even to the most casual observer, is this is an administration that is utterly contemptuous of the public,” says Bob Jambois, who is representing several of the protesters who have been cited. “They don’t care what the public has to say.”

One of the prime targets of an attempted crackdown that began last summer has been the Solidarity Singers, who have conducted noon-time singalongs in the Capitol rotunda every Monday through Thursday for the last two years to skewer Walker and other Republican leaders in song.

The proposal for new rules comes after state Department of Justice prosecutors dismissed some 70 citations against protesters for holding signs, for participating in the singalong, or for creating a hazard by draping banners over the rotunda balcony.

So, after the Department of Justice decided these citations had no merit, the DoA is attempting to change the rules (again) to keep our elected officials from having to be confronted by singing.

This probably doesn't deserve a thread of its own, but was worthy of mention.

Madison-Kipp Corp. (MKC), a local company which has been guilty of some significant environmental violations in the heart of Madison's east side, apparently went to the governor's office asking the state to sue them, in an attempt to pre-empt neighbors from being able to seek legal remedy.

Wisconsin State Journal[/url]]In those documents and others filed in February, the neighbors’ attorneys say that in September 2011, Michael Best & Friedrich attorney Ray Taffora — a former deputy attorney general supervising enforcement of state environmental and consumer protection law — approached Walker’s chief legal counsel, Brian Hagedorn, and asked for the state to take legal action that would pre-empt or prevent neighboring families from pursuing a claim against Madison-Kipp under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

“MKC would prefer to spend its resources defending allegations against the state of Wisconsin and restoring the environment than paying out-of-state plaintiffs’ counsel given that the federal statute provides for the plaintiffs’ attempted recovery of their fees and costs,” Taffora wrote in an email to Hagedorn on Sept. 14, 2011, during the notification period for the neighbors’ federal lawsuit.

That suit was filed a month later, in October 2011.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie declined to comment. Taffora did not return calls for comment.

Looks like the public will be granted access to at least some documents pertaining to the John Doe investigation.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]An appeals court judge ordered the release Wednesday of numerous documents in the closed secret investigation of aides to Gov. Scott Walker, including the personal emails of convicted aide Kelly Rindfleisch.

Also to be filed with the Court of Appeals are the search warrant for seizing records from Walker's office when he was Milwaukee County executive and a transcript of the secret hearing over that and other warrants. The search warrant was issued on Nov. 1, 2010, the day before Walker was elected governor.

Appeals Judge Patricia Curley ordered the filing of the records within 15 days as part of Rindfleisch's appeal. The office of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, sought to include the records in the court file as it fights Rindfleisch's contention that the warrants were overly broad.

The release of the records would give a glimpse into the 21/2 year John Doe investigation of Walker aides. A John Doe proceeding is Wisconsin's form of a secret judicial investigation of potential crimes or public misconduct and is similar to a federal grand jury investigation.

Curley's order comes a week after the Journal Sentinel filed a motion with John Doe Judge Neal Nettesheim seeking to have county documents and emails seized in the investigation returned to the county and made accessible to the public.

The order comes as the Republican governor gears up for re-election and pundits name him as a possible candidate for president in 2016.

Nowhere in the judge's two-page order does she refer to filing the records under seal.

Good.

I'm a fan of transparency, and I think this is a good step. If the investigation was improperly broad or politically motivated, the public should know that (the same goes for any other currently-secret information where there is a public interest for disclosure).

It appears there may still be some aftershocks to come from the earlier John Doe investigation.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel[/url]]A former top-level assistant U.S. attorney has been appointed a special prosecutor in a burgeoning, secret investigation into a wide variety of state issues, including possible campaign violations during the recent recall elections, multiple sources said.

Francis Schmitz — who spent nearly 30 years as a federal prosecutor and was once a finalist for U.S. attorney in Milwaukee — is leading the widespread John Doe probe, according to sources.

Overseeing the case is Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara A. Kluka, who has been used by Milwaukee County judicial officials in past John Doe cases.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, whose office initiated the probe, declined to answer questions about the John Doe on Friday. Insiders said the investigation covers several jurisdictions, including Dane County. Police and prosecutors in these other counties have been lending a helping hand.

"It's now spread to at least five counties," said a source familiar with the probe, adding that Landgraf has been investigating "all over the place."

Another source said one reason that these other counties have been roped into the investigation is a new state law that allows elected officials to be tried in their home counties for violations of ethics, lobbying and campaign laws. Ex-Assembly Majority Leader Scott Jensen had his case moved to Waukesha County under a Supreme Court ruling because of the law.

Sources said the investigation is following up on a number of leads turned up by an earlier John Doe probe, which was led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm into the former and current aides of Gov. Scott Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

Six individuals — including three former Walker aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor — were convicted of criminal charges as a result of the probe. The first-term Republican governor said he was not a target of the investigation, which ran for nearly three years.

A John Doe probe functions much like a federal grand jury, allowing prosecutors to conduct searches, subpoena records and other material, and take testimony under oath from witnesses — all in secret.

It appears the state-related case opened in February 2012, meaning it was active at the same time as the one focusing on Walker's county aides.

However, several sources said they became aware of the newer probe only in the past month and that much of the recent activity has taken place in Madison.

Sources familiar with the probe told the Journal Sentinel that it was scrutinizing a wide variety of state-related issues, including the recall races. Sources suggested the probe is looking at a current legislative leader and the governor's contest.

"This is activity that occurred since the 2010 election," said a source.

Emphasis added.

That would explain the court's secrecy order, as well as the somewhat-hasty end to the previous Doe investigation, without any further charges.

Wow. So things are still rolling and could be bad for him / them?

We can hope. As we learned in Virginia, these guys don't have a great track record for ethical behavior.

Jolly Bill wrote:

Wow. So things are still rolling and could be bad for him / them?

Too soon to tell.

Walker is of course claiming that politics are what's driving this story. A Democratic challenger for governor has declared her candidacy, and Walker responded to news of the second John Doe investigation saying (in part) "We expected that with a new Democrat candidate for governor in the race that there would be stories like this along the way".

Except that this John Doe case apparently opened in February of 2012. And the special prosecutor was one of three finalists for a US attorney position under the Bush administration, which would be an odd choice for a manufactured partisan effort.

In any event, I definitely want the information pertaining to these cases to be released, eventually - so that people can evaluate for themselves whether the investigations had merit, regardless of any / all charges eventually brought.

More information about the current John Doe investigation.

Wisconsin State Journal[/url]]The campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and more than two dozen conservative political groups are the targets of a secret Milwaukee County probe, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.

The newspaper reported that “some 29” organizations were being targeted, and it quoted Eric O’Keefe, an official with Club for Growth Wisconsin, as saying his group was among them.

“In recent weeks,” the newspaper reported, “special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.”

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece marks the first time that a named source has identified a target of the probe, which began in February 2012 but came to light just last month. Such “John Doe” investigations often involve secrecy orders issued by a judge that bar witnesses or participants from divulging the nature or even the existence of the probe.

The report, published Friday, detailed two subpoenas.

One demanded “all memoranda, email .... correspondence, and communications” between an unnamed target and “some 29” conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees.

The other demanded “all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the campaign.”

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, told the State Journal that based on the report, the investigation appears to be zeroing in on whether so-called issue ad groups illegally coordinated with political campaigns to help boost candidates.

McCabe said issue ad groups — which operate on both the right and left — can raise and spend as much money as they want without disclosing their donors, so long as they don’t specifically advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate.

But political campaigns are subject to certain financial limitations, and all donors must be disclosed.

Any issue ad group caught working directly with a candidate’s campaign would “run afoul of the law,” McCabe said.

Possibly worth remembering: the initial John Doe investigation into Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive (his job immediately prior to becoming Governor) uncovered illegal campaign contributions, illegal campaign activity, and embezzlement of veterans' funds.

Right now it looks like this is focused on the recall elections, not his initial campaign for Governor. It's also worth remembering that Wisconsin's recall law has a loophole which effectively allows for unlimited fundraising for the incumbent - something Governor Walker took full advantage of, outspending his opponents campaign $29 Million to $4 Million (in the interest of disclosure, it's important to note that the PAC money turned this into a less-outrageous but still hefty 2:1 advantage.

Three targets of the current John Doe investigation have anonymously filed petitions seeking that the investigation potentially be taken up by the state Supreme Court.

Wisconsin State Journal[/url]]Madison attorney Dean Strang late last week filed five petitions for supervisory writ in the 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison asking a halt to the investigation. It asks the appeals judges to weigh in on an unspecified action or actions taken by retired Judge Gregory A. Peterson and to consider sending the requests up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

According to electronic court records, Strang on Thursday also asked that the petitions, affidavits and exhibits used in the requests be sealed. However, Strang asked the appeals court to unseal other records, including the memoranda he filed in support of the supervisory writs and the motions to stay filed on behalf of three unnamed petitioners.

"I cannot properly comment on anything for now," Strang said in an email.

All five of the filings are sealed, and a panel of appeals judges has not yet been formed to hear the matters, Diane Fremgen, clerk of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, said Tuesday.

Peterson is a former appeals court judge from Eau Claire who retired in 2012. Last week, he took over for retired Judge Barbara Kluka, who had been overseeing the investigation but stepped down for undisclosed reasons. The investigation was launched in 2012 but publicly revealed just a few weeks ago.

Strang, a criminal defense and appeals attorney, represents one of the unnamed petitioners. Petitioner No. 2 is represented by two law firms -- one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Kansas City, Mo. -- both of which specialize in complex litigation and white collar crime. Petitioner No. 3 also is represented by the D.C. firm.

Why is this possibly problematic? Well, if the investigations are looking at electoral improprieties during the 2011-2012 window, that would include an election for our state Supreme Court which was tightly contested, and featured some irregularities that proved decisive. There's a thread for that election, but the highlights are:

* Election night results showed a very slight advantage to the Democratic candidate, Kloppenburg.
* Kathy Nickolaus, the Waukesha county clerk, discovered after the election that she had not reported accurate data (of note: just the previous fall she had blown off criticism of her opaque, non-standard vote tabulation setup - claiming expertise by virtue of her 15 years working as a programmer)
* The new vote numbers from Waukesha gave the election to the Republican candidate, Prosser.
* Kathy Nickolaus had worked for Prosser during his time in the Wisconsin legislature, which coincided with our caucus scandal. Though Prosser was not charged or prosecuted, he did testify that his staff engaged in illegal campaigning - which, coincidentally enough, was one of the activities that the first John Doe investigation uncovered.
* The state Supreme Court later was responsible for hearing the lawsuits over 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. This act was passed in violation of state law, specifically Open Meetings law §19.84, which mandates 24-hour notice for a government meeting, with an exception for emergencies of a minimum 2 hour notice.
* On Monday, June 13th, Jeff Fitzgerald said he hoped to have a decision from the state Supreme Court in the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 case by mid-day Tuesday, and that if they didn't have a decision the Legislature would have to re-pass the bill (something the GOP had been fighting tooth and nail to avoid). The state Supreme Court began hearings on the case just the previous Monday, so this was an extremely unusual turnaround.
* The evening of the 13th, the conservative members of the state Supreme Court demanded a decision be rendered the next day. The argument was heated enough that now-elected Justice Prosser ended up with his hands on the throat of a colleague (note that while many aspects of this altercation are in dispute, Justice Prosser acknowledged this fact in his testimony to investigators).

In an odd sideline - the Kloppenburg campaign alleged that Justice Prosser and Governor Walker met privately the day after the election, just before the Governor's administration filed a case before the Supreme Court to strike down the lawsuit over 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. It's important to note that both Prosser and Walker deny the meeting, though Prosser's denial was awfully nuanced.

So what's to stop them from destroying documents (paper and computer) this time around? From what I remember, this happened the last time and there didn't seem to be any real consequences. Or am I getting horribly mixed up with something else?

Rallick wrote:

So what's to stop them from destroying documents (paper and computer) this time around? From what I remember, this happened the last time and there didn't seem to be any real consequences. Or am I getting horribly mixed up with something else?

I think you're probably remembering the hundreds of thousands of documents that were deleted from GOP computers after they were ordered to be preserved in our recent redistricting case.

That investigation stopped when the plaintiffs filed a joint resolution with the defendant's attorneys, acknowledging the behavior but saying it couldn't be proved to be intentional rather than due to incompetence, nor could it be proved that those documents (which were, of course, absent) would have changed the outcome of the federal case.

Wisconsin State Journal[/url]]In a report to a three-judge panel, the two sides in the litigation said they found no solid proof the thousands of files deleted from state computers were removed with bad intent nor that turning those files over to plaintiffs would have changed the outcome of a federal case challenging Wisconsin’s redistricting.

The report filed Wednesday sought to assess why records were not properly turned over to plaintiffs challenging the secretive process in which Wisconsin Republican leaders redrew state legislative and congressional districts following the 2010 census.

“Compliance with the plaintiffs’ subpoenas, and the court’s orders regarding them, by the Legislature, its employees, consultants and counsel was not complete,” according to the report, filed jointly by attorneys for both sides.

“Whether such incompleteness was the result of inadvertence or ineptitude or otherwise cannot be determined.”

So in answer to your question - if they manage to do it in a way similar to how the redistricting case went down, nothing.

Especially if they manage to get it in front of our ideologically-obedient state Supreme Court. (Though maybe if Prosser is one of the subjects of the investigation the case could get kicked up to the federal level? I think the odds of a more impartial outcome there would be a little better.)

Maryland is nice this time of the century, Dimmer. Maybe you should leave La Republica de los Bananas and come down here...

Peoples republic of Austin always has some programming gigs.