A federal judge is considering whether to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at halting the John Doe investigation, which is allegedly looking into groups that helped Governor Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign. Probe backers say a dismissal would stifle future campaign finance investigations.
Conservative groups who backed Walker's campaign two years ago say the not-so-secret probe looking into their actions harms their free speech rights, as well as their ability to raise money now to help the Republican governor. The groups want the current case some are calling “John Doe 2” halted now, and eventually stopped permanently.
Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin, however, says the Doe probe is looking at whether there was illegal coordination with Walker's campaign. Heck says not letting the investigation run its course could harm future probes aimed at the GOP, Democrats and anyone else.
“It would be a chilling effect, and I think it would give the green light to groups to commit all kinds of campaign finance violations, even more serious matters than that, if this investigation is somehow halted,” he said.
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Heck says John Doe cases are not, as critics claim, “fishing expeditions.” He says they only get underway where there's some evidence of wrongdoing.
Last Thursday Gov. Walker was asked if halting the Doe case would made it harder to police state campaign laws.
“I don't know enough about the particulars that they're looking at and what the ramifications would be,” he said. “By the nature of the proceedings they don't discuss it out there, all the details. Obviously, after the fact, it's something we'd look at, as well.”
Late last week, media organizations learned that the judge overseeing the current John Doe case reversed himself on January 27, and let prosecutors keep evidence they have seized in the case.