October 21, 2015
On Tuesday, the state Assembly voted along partisan lines to prohibit John Doe investigations of lawmakers who are accused of political crimes, such as bribery.
Then the state Senate voted early Wednesday morning along partisan lines, 18-14, to do the same.
“This is one of the most corrupt and self-serving measures ever passed by the Wisconsin legislature,” says Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a good government watchdog group. “Lawmakers have exempted themselves and only themselves from the John Doe law. “They just gave themselves a get out of jail free card for political crimes.”
This bill was passed after Republicans and their allies in the rightwing media propagated a series of false accusations against the John Doe investigations of Scott Walker.
It’s not true that these were partisan investigations: District attorneys, both Democrat and Republican, were involved, and the special prosecutor in the second John Doe had voted for Walker.
It’s not true that the police acted out of line – much less “like Nazi Stormtroopers.” In fact, in the most publicized case involving Walker aide Cindy Archer, the tape of the police at her home shows just the opposite: They were so polite they even offered her a chance to take a coffee break!
Republicans also claimed this was a victory for the First Amendment because the John Doe law had put a gag on witnesses and on those being investigated. This was an easy problem to fix, though, which the Republicans did in their legislation, lifting the gags. But still they exempted themselves from the John Doe statute.