Some 'Splaining to Do

1. Truth begins to come to light in John Doe 1 2. Efforts to derail John Doe 2 intensify 3. Picking and choosing who covers the Capitol 4. Taking WDC’s message on the road Some ’Splaining to Do

Email date: 2/21/14

In this update:
1. Truth begins to come to light in John Doe 1
2. Efforts to derail John Doe 2 intensify
3. Picking and choosing who covers the Capitol
4. Taking WDC’s message on the road


Truth begins to come to light in John Doe 1
Close to 28,000 pages of emails made public by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in connection to a John Doe investigation that led to the convictions of six of Governor Scott Walker’s aides or close associates have put Walker on the hot seat and left him with plenty of explaining to do.

Story after story about the emails paint an ugly picture of the people the governor chose to surround himself with.

The emails also raise questions about why prosecutors chose to charge some but not others during the investigation. State law prohibits anyone from soliciting or receiving any contribution or service for any political purpose during “established hours of employment or while the (government) officer or employee is engaged in his or her official duties.” The emails show not only that Walker aides in the Milwaukee County Executive’s office broke this law, but also campaign workers. Only the prosecutors know why the campaign staffers weren’t also criminally charged. The emails also show that Walker himself knew about the activities and sometimes participated in the interactions between county and political aides and even directed his staff in the County Executive’s office to provide assistance to his campaign workers and vice versa. Given what the law says, this raises a legitimate question about why the prosecutors chose not to charge him.


Efforts to derail John Doe 2 intensify
First a right-wing group filed a lawsuit in federal court in hopes of halting a second John Doe investigation into campaign fundraising and spending in Wisconsin’s recall elections and possible illegal coordination between supposedly independent interest groups and Governor Walker’s campaign. Then two unnamed parties turned to the state court system but sought to bypass the normal legal procedure by directly petitioning the Wisconsin Supreme Court to shut down the criminal probe.

Four of the seven members of the state Supreme Court should be disqualified from hearing and ruling on this case due to the substantial political backing they received in their elections from some of the groups under investigation, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Caperton v. Massey that judges deciding cases involving big campaign supporters violates the Due Process Clause in the Constitution and denies a fair trial to the other side in the case.


Picking and choosing who covers the Capitol
In two separate instances, state legislative leaders arbitrarily denied press credentials to representatives of media organizations, thereby playing favorites on who is granted the privilege to cover goings-on at the Capitol.

One of those denied credentials is the co-host of a radio show that airs on the local Madison station WXXM. Ironically, both legislative leaders who made the decision have been guests on the show in the past. Evidently Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald viewed the station as a legitimate media organization when they accepted invitations to be interviewed on the air. The station is owned by radio conglomerate Clear Channel and is in one of the top 100 radio markets in the nation. Another request for credentials that was turned down came from a labor newspaper.

Vos and Fitzgerald did not spell out the grounds for denial of these requests for credentials. But they did say that media organizations must “avoid conflict of interest, real or perceived” and must “remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.”

This begs the question of why media credentials have been granted to the Republican-connected MacIver Institute and the online Wisconsin Reporter, which also has extensive ties to right-wing interests.


Taking WDC’s message on the road
Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe was in Janesville recently for a speaking engagement. Video of his talk has been posted on YouTube. Part 1. Part 2.