Wisconsin Recall Roundup June 4, 2012

Reporter, Former Attorney General Suggest Walker is "Target" of John Doe and Federal Investigations

When Current TV's David Shuster broke the story on Friday that Walker was a "target" of the John Doe investigation he cited anonymous sources. On Saturday, Walker issued a strong denial, saying any suggestions that he has become a target of the John Doe probe are "100 percent wrong." Late on Saturday, Shuster revealed more. "I stand by my reporting 100 percent," Shuster said in a conference call reported on by the Progressive Magazine, adding that Walker was also a target in a federal investigation, citing unnamed sources with the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. Shuster also said that Walker's attorneys had been seeking to have their client publicly cleared of wrongdoing for the last five or six weeks, but prosecutors would not clear him. Former District Attorney Bob Jambois said that "If Scott Walker thinks this is so unfair, why doesn't he open up these 1,400 emails." Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said "Walker should have produced evidence to clear himself" if he was not a target of investigation, and it would have been "malpractice" for his attorneys not to seek a letter from prosecutors clearing him.

Shuster's report is the first on a federal investigation parallel to the ongoing investigation by the Milwaukee DA, but the news did not come as a surprise. Walker has hired high-powered criminal defense lawyers and is using a portion of his $30 million campaign finance war chest to pay legal bills being run up by his campaign attorneys and his personal criminal defense attorneys, over $320,000 combined so far. The use of a campaign war chest to pay legal fees is only permitted under Wisconsin statutes when a person or their "agent" acting on their behalf are "under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal violation" under campaign finance and election laws. Walker announced he was starting a criminal defense fund in March 2012.

Mary Bottari has more on this issue in this article on PR Watch.

Walker's former Deputy Chief of Staff in Court this Morning

Scott Walker's former deputy chief of staff, Tim Russell, will have a hearing on his motion to suppress evidence in the secret "John Doe" probe of Walker's former staff and associates during the time Walker served as Milwaukee County Executive. The motion was filed Saturday and not immediately available to the press. According to a blogger who went to the courthouse to read the motion, Russell's lawyers are trying to suppress evidence gathered via search warrants, subpoenas and even the testimony of two key witnesses. Reportedly, Russell's attorneys are concerned about his exposure related to charges that have yet to be filed against him. Russell has only been charged with crimes related to the embezzlement of veterans funds that he and his partner used to take vacations, not to other crimes detailed in the criminal indictments of Kelly Rindfleisch and Brian Pierick. Russell's trial is in two weeks.

State and Federal DOJ to Send Election Monitors to Wisconsin

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, announced Saturday that the state Department of Justice will be sending election watchers to twelve cities as part of its effort to prevent alleged "voter fraud." Van Hollen and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm thoroughly investigated voter fraud in the 2008 elections, but out of nearly 3 million ballots cast, charged only 20 people, most of whom were former felons who did not know they were prohibited from voting. The Civil Rights Division of the Federal Department of Justice announced in May that they would send election monitors to Wisconsin to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For Tuesday's recall election, a Texas-based Tea Party group has been training Wisconsinites in poll-watching techniques -- tactics that in the past have prompted accusations of voter suppression. Will the observers spend more time observing each other than the voters?

High Turnout Expected in Tuesday's Recall Election

From the Marshfield News Herald: Wisconsin election officials topnews that 60 to 65 percent of the voting age population, or about 2.6 million to 2.8 million people, will cast ballots in the recall election. The statewide predicted turnout would be higher than the 49.7 percent who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial general election, in which Walker beat Barrett by nearly 6 percentage points. But it would not be as high as the 2008 general election for president, when some 69.2 percent of eligible Wisconsinites turned out to vote.

New Barrett Ad: "Stonewalled"

Tom Barrett popped a new ad over the weekend highlighting a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from Friday that shows that Walker's office initially "stonewalled" the initial inquiry into $11,000 in embezzled funds intended for veteran's families, and that the secret John Doe investigation was launched to subpoena the records Walker's office was "unwilling or unable" to turn over. Barrett's ad used the Journal Sentinel report to imply that Walker was not really a "straight shooter" as claimed, and pointed out that the governor has refused to release thousands of pages of emails and that a secret email system had operated in his office when he was County Executive.

The Center for Media and Democracy does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. Since 1993, CMD has been reporting on corporate spin and government propaganda, exposing public relations tactics, and debunking PR campaigns.


The author listed as "PRwatch Editors" is for reports attributable to CMD's editors or guest authors.