In 2012, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dodged efforts to recall him after his administration stripped public employees of their union rights. He didn't emerge completely unscathed, however -- shortly after the election, prosecutors began looking into whether members of his administration violated campaign finance laws.
Though two judges have already heard the evidence and ordered prosecutors to back off, the Seventh Circuit is currently hearing those prosecutors' pleas to continue looking into the governor's staff's ties to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a nonprofit conservative group that funneled cash to a number of other conservative PACs that helped Gov. Walker fight back against the recall push.
On Friday, the Seventh Circuit accidentally released confidential documents related to the case. What did those documents show?
Coordination With a 501(c)(4)?
Though the documents were quickly removed from the Seventh Circuit's site, as you might imagine, other sites and news outlets, such as The New York Times, quickly posted copies on their own sites.
The leaked documents, as a whole, paint a picture of Gov. Walker's aides' strategy for telling donors that they could make unlimited donations to the Wisconsin Club for Growth without having the contributions disclosed. WCFG could then funnel the donations to other groups that advertised on Walker's behalf. Some of the emails were directed at Walker, while others were between staff members.
The documents point out multiple instances where Walker was scheduled to meet with a donor, and later, that donor contributed to WCFG.
Prosecutors argue that Gov. Walker's aides' activities violated campaign laws by illegally coordinating with the nonprofit. But U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph T. Randa ruled that the investigation violated the rights of the Club for Growth and other organizations.
Gov. Walker Not Under Investigation
Representatives from Gov. Walker's campaign were quick to distance the potential 2016 presidential candidate from the leaked documents, reports The New York Times.
"As previously reported, the prosecutor's attorney stated that Gov. Walker is not a target, two separate judges have dismissed the allegations, and the Friends of Scott Walker campaign is not a party to the lawsuit in the Seventh Circuit," said Alleigh Marre, a campaign spokeswoman.
But as much as his campaign staff tries to distance Walker from the scandal, as the Times notes, the documents paint a picture of hands-on involvement, including multiple instances where donors gave money to WCFG within hours of talking to the governor.
Walker may not be involved in the legal case, but his name being tied to circumvention of campaign finance law while he defends his governor's seat in the fall, and possibly prepares for a 2016 presidential bid, can't be helpful.
- Gov. Scott Walker's Campaign Violations (The New York Times [Editorial])
- Hyperventilating in Wisconsin - Documents expose the false legal theory used against Scott Walker (The Wall Street Journal [Editorial])
- Emails show Walker recall election campaign push (The Associated Press)
- Horse-Racing RICO Claim Involving Ex-Gov. Blagojevich Can Proceed (FindLaw's U.S. Seventh Circuit Blog)