Thursday, September 22, 2016

Did Scott Walker make a subtle threat to county DAs across the state?

Walker suggests “a lot of people” may not feel the need to fund DA offices if they continue investigations into political figures (namely himself)

Is Scott Walker suggesting he might use political retaliation against district attorneys across the state that may investigate his criminal behavior?

That’s what it sure seems like. In speaking with reporters in Beloit, Walker suggested that some may question the need for additional staff in attorneys’ offices if investigations like the John Doe case are pursued further.

From the reporting of Jessie Opoien of the Capital Times:
Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday suggested there could be broader implications for district attorney staffing levels throughout the state if Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm were to continue to pursue a John Doe investigation into Walker's campaign after the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on it.


Walker was asked by reporters Thursday at an event in Beloit whether he expects to hear more from Chisholm on the John Doe investigation after the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case.

"I would think most people in the state would think after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on this that there’s certainly not a lack of work to be done in Milwaukee County on issues related to crime and on other issues," Walker said. "We hear, not only in that county, but in other counties, about the need for additional district attorneys and additional resources. I think a lot of people wonder, if they continue to spend time after the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule on this, if that’s really necessary, if they have time to spend on this even after the courts have shut it down."
Emphasis in bold added.

That seems like a veiled threat from where I’m sitting. And it’s disappointing to hear our governor suggest that DAs can lose funding for doing what’s fundamentally their jobs.

I’m not the only one to think this. John Nichols also put in his two cents on Twitter:

And James Rowen suggests that the comments may mean something deeper:
All this pressure from people with a vested interest in killing the case suggest there is something these dark money beneficiaries want permanently hidden.
Though conservative courts who were aligned with Walker (including the state Supreme Court) tried to shut the John Doe investigation down, the U.S. Supreme Court revived the possibility that the investigation could continue in accepting a writ of cert under seal earlier this summer. And it’s highly likely they will grant that cert to hear the full case -- such writs under seal are typically given full consideration by the High Court.

Walker’s threats to county DAs isn’t unfamiliar ground for the Wisconsin Republican Party either. Whether it’s threatening Milwaukee with spending cuts over how the city handles crime or issues of education, or threatening cuts to the University of Wisconsin over classes on sexuality, the modus operandi of the WisGOP seems to be that if they don’t like a liberal policy or politician, they will threaten them with spending cuts.

But the governor’s words this week are especially disheartening. They imply that action can be taken against civil servants whose duties include looking into nefarious behaviors of state lawmakers. By threatening to lessen the staff of county DAs across the state based off of that necessary legal obligation, Walker’s true colors are out there for all to see -- and they’re not pretty.

Walker should use caution against such rhetoric. He, too, is beholden to the laws of this state, and his status as governor doesn’t change that -- nor does it mean he can make threats to the people who take an oath to uphold and enforce those laws. It’s troublesome to hear him make these statements, even for Walker’s standards.

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