June 24, 2014

SACRIFICIAL LAMB:

Conservatives Are Sacrificing Scott Walker for a Higher Cause : They want to eradicate fundraising restrictions--even if it costs the governor his job (Bruce Murphy, 6/24/14, New Republic)

Though the law prevents subjects of a secret John Doe investigation from discussing it publicly, O'Keefe admitted to the Wall Street Journal to being subpoenaed, and the paper then wrote editorials condemning the probe. This allowed Walker's supporters to dismiss the probe as a "partisan witch hunt," but it also began to make a secret Doe probe an increasingly public affair. With the probe now part of a federal lawsuit, which is not secret, the various legal documents in the case were heavily redacted, even as they made their way on appeal to the Seventh Circuit of Appeals. Media organizations petitioned the court to make the records public.

And then a funny thing happened. None of the lawyers objected to this. Not Chisholm's John Doe team, who probably saw this as an opportunity put heat on Walker and to show the investigation had substance. And not O'Keefe's lawyers, who saw it as a way to make their argument against the hated rules restricting third-party advocacy groups. As Andrew Grossman, another attorney working for O'Keefe, would later put it, "These documents show how the John Doe prosecutors adopted a blatantly unconstitutional interpretation of Wisconsin law... to launch a secret criminal investigation targeting conservatives throughout Wisconsin... Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

The one lawyer who would have no doubt objected was Stephen Biskupic, representing Walker's campaign, which polls show had become a dead heat. But the campaign was not a party to the federal lawsuit. Biskupic, however, would have known that the lawyers, in their filings, had not objected to release of the Doe documents and their accusations against Walker. And soon after those filings were made, the news came out that Biskupic was trying to cut a deal with the Doe prosecutors to settle the case against his client. The disclosure came, once again, from O'Keefe's reliable ally, the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page excoriated Walker, saying he "has to decide whose side he's on... While the Club (for Growth) fights for its First Amendment rights to speak out on the issue, the Walker campaign apparently seeks to negotiate a settlement with the prosecutors that will keep the issue out of the spotlight." 

A condemnation from the Journal is, of course, a nightmare prospect for anyone hoping to run as a Republican presidential candidate. Walker initially offered a legalistic response while not denying the attempt at a deal, which brought another editorial spanking ("Sorry, that's disingenuous") from the newspaper. Walker then backed down entirely, saying, "I'm certainly not going to undermine anyone's First Amendment rights. I'm frankly kind of shocked for anyone to suggest that." 

O'Keefe's goal was made clear by the second Journal editorial: "The stakes in the federal lawsuit ... are bigger than Mr. Walker's campaign. They concern the prosecutorial machine that exists in Wisconsin, and in too many other states, to punish and limit political speech that is protected by the First Amendment." 
Posted by at June 24, 2014 2:06 PM
  
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