Saturday, August 23, 2014

A comment on John Doe -- “I’m not a target” does not equal “I did nothing wrong”

Why Scott Walker can’t shake off his John Doe problems

Another set of documents from the not-so-secret-anymore John Doe investigation was released this weekend, describing in more detail what prosecutors meant when they said that Gov. Scott Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” in other papers released earlier this summer.

From Politico:
Newly released court documents include excerpts from emails showing that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign team told him to instruct donors to give to a key conservative group that would run ads for Walker and distribute money to other conservative groups backing him.
Though, once again, no definitive case of wrongdoing against Walker can be made, the latest document dump shows that those he surrounded himself with told the governor to solicit donations and to funnel the money directly to Wisconsin Club for Growth. Doing so would allow donors to give unlimited amounts of campaign cash to the organization, anonymously, where it would be distributed across a network of several other groups who backed Walker in his recall election campaign.

In one of the documents released, Katie Doner, a fundraiser for Walker’s campaign, described the plan to RJ Johnson, “a paid adviser to Walker who was also involved with the Wisconsin Club for Growth” according to WisPolitics:
[Walker] wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru (sic) one group to ensure correct messaging ... We had some past problems with multiple groups doing work on ‘behalf’ of Gov. Walker and it caused some issues. In Wisconsin, a 501(c)(4) is the legal vehicle that runs the media/outreach/GOTV campaigns. The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure...
Emphasis in bold mine.

There are also troubling donations given to the WCFG that could spell out possible pay-to-play schemes. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Among the funds that flowed into the Wisconsin Club for Growth was $700,000 from [mining company Gogebic Taconite, who were] trying to build a massive open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Soon after the 2012 recall and general elections, Walker and Republicans eased environmental regulations, helping the firm.
The donation from the mining company could open anew a bitter debate between environmentalists and those who say a mine would deliver good-paying jobs to the hard-hit Northwoods.
“Because Wisconsin Club for Growth’s fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker’s agents at the time of Gogebic’s donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited,” investigator Dean Nickel said in documents unsealed Friday.
Emphases in bold mine.

In response to the documents released, Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said, “As previously reported, the prosecutor’s attorney stated that Governor Walker is not a target.”

We’ve heard that line from Walker in the past as well. But the facts back up the allegations: Walker’s people were telling him to solicit donations from millionaires or corporations for Wisconsin Club For Growth. Later on, those very people (after meeting with Walker) are donating vast sums to the organization.

These documents, without having direct evidence of wrongdoing on Walker’s part, indicate that Walker indeed isn’t a target of the investigation. But it’s pretty clear to see that Walker wasn’t an innocent bystander either. And without a direct statement from Walker saying, “I did nothing wrong,” suspicion and theories of what he did do during this time will surely grow.

Saying “I’m not a target of an investigation” is not the same as saying “I am innocent and haven’t done anything wrong.” It’s clear, with evidence of people surrounding the governor engaging in illegal campaigning activities, that something is VERY wrong with this governor.

It was Walker who said, in his 2010 campaign for governor:
“Governors should be defined not just by what they do and say, but who they surround themselves with.”

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