Jul 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 43 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On July 16, we saw the definitive end to one of the greatest abuses of power in recent memory. After five years, the Wisconsin supreme court finally halted the Milwaukee district attorney’s notorious “John Doe” investigation that targeted Governor Scott Walker and political allies trying to reform the state’s laws regarding fiscally ruinous public employee unions. Imagine a grand jury investigation but without the jury, leaving a prosecutor who operates secretly—in this case, the district attorney’s investigation was headed by one John Chisholm—with almost sole discretion to pursue whatever evidence he deems relevant to his investigation. (There was nominal supervision from a judge who seems to have exercised no oversight.)
In Wisconsin, Chisholm ordered early morning raids where the cops showed up at political activists’ homes carrying battering rams and subpoenas. The very thin justification for such heavy-handed tactics was, improbably, being accused of violating campaign finance rules that disallow coordination between independent groups and candidates.
Normally, when people work to change a law they disagree with it’s called the democratic process. But in this case, “Chisholm’s wife was a teachers’ union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms,” reported National Review’s David French. “[A former prosecutor] said Chisholm ‘felt it was his personal duty’ to stop them”—legal authority be damned.
According to the Wisconsin supreme court’s ruling halting the investigation—it had previously been put on hold by state and federal courts—“as part of this dragnet, the special prosecutor also had seized wholly irrelevant information, such as retirement income statements, personal financial account information, personal letters, and family photos.” Further, “this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law.” That bit about the investigation not being founded in “reason” is a remarkable statement coming from a panel of judges. It’s legalese for shouting “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” at the prosecutor.
The court, to its credit, also realizes that there are much bigger issues at stake, given that all this was done in the name of enforcing campaign finance laws. Liberals appalled at the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision have long insisted that there’s no conflict between empowering the government to heavily regulate “political speech” and ensuring that free speech is broadly protected. Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation exposes this for the lie that it is, and the state supreme court is alert to the danger:
The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection. The special prosecutor’s theories . . . instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished. . . . It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution.
The national media were perversely unmoved by the horrors accompanying the John Doe investigation, no doubt because it cast discredit on the motives of unions, campaign finance activists, and other favored groups and distracted from the evil personified by Governor Scott Walker. And so they have largely ignored the appalling abuses.
But the rest of us should not forget the name John Chisholm or the willingness of liberal “good government” crusaders to abandon any respect for basic rights the moment they have an opportunity to go after their enemies.
9:46 PM, Jul 13, 2015 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker entered the Republican presidential race Monday in a forward-looking announcement speech that touched upon conservative principles that have guided his work in the state.
Running as 'a fighter who can win' and implement 'commonsense conservative reforms.'6:10 AM, Jul 13, 2015 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Scott Walker isn’t big on self-reflection.
8:47 PM, Jul 1, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Thousands appeared in Madison, Wisconsin Wednesday night for a rally supporting Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont running for the Democratic nomination for president. CNN reporter Dan Merica tweeted a photo of the rally held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which seats 10,000 people and looks nearly full:
1:46 PM, Jun 8, 2015 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Fresh off its widely-mocked exclusive on the traffic citations given Marco and Jeannette Rubio – fewer than one per year, combined – the New York Times has an in-depth look at Scott Walker and the wealthy conservatives who backed him throughout his rise to national prominence. It’s a classic of the genre.
6:11 PM, May 21, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker says Hillary Clinton's habit of communicating with Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton Foundation employee, while serving as secretary of state is "wrong on so many levels."
"It’s part of a troubling trend across the board where the Clintons seemed to be held to a different standard than everyone else," said Walker in an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD following his address to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Jeb drops to 5% in latest Iowa poll.7:31 AM, May 6, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new Quinnipiac poll of likely Iowa Republican presidential caucusgoers finds Wisconsin's Scott Walker in front of the GOP pack with 21 percent support and a 9-point advantage over his closest primary opponents.
Gleanings and observations.5:23 PM, Apr 27, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Every true conservative, or at least every Republican conservative, knows that our freedoms are under continuing threat from the Obama administration, which has already seized control of the health care and energy sectors, and is circling the education sector with the threat of a core curriculum. Worry not. Our Republican guardians are on the alert. At least in Wisconsin.
From a 1999 interview with the future Wisconsin governor.10:33 AM, Apr 15, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Scott Walker and Hillary Clinton may very well face off against other in the general election for president next year, but the Republican from Wisconsin has claimed to have had Clinton's number for more than a decade. Long before he had become a national figure, Walker said on a Wisconsin radio show that the first lady and future senator and secretary of state polls best when "people feel a bit sympathetic for her having to be married to Bill."
1:06 PM, Mar 16, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Scott Walker may not be a candidate for president yet, but the Wisconsin governor’s growing political action committee staff is already going after a potential rival in the Republican primary. GOP strategist Liz Mair, CNN reports, has just signed on to consult for Walker’s Our American Revival PAC, doing outreach to bloggers and other digital media outlets.
Has anyone broken more progressives’ hearts than Wisconsin’s governor? Nov 17, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 10 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Scott Walker has won every round of his long fight with Big Labor in Wisconsin, but it wasn’t until November 4 that he delivered the knockout punch. In his third gubernatorial election in four years, Walker defeated Democratic challenger Mary Burke by 6 points. It was the same margin of victory he had in the 2010 Republican wave and just a point shy of his 2012 performance in a union-funded recall.
Why Indian gaming is proliferating.Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By JIM SWIFT
Two years after it was supposed to help revitalize Atlantic City, the $2.4 billion Revel casino—all 57 stories of it—is closed. It’s an expensive eyesore that sums up Atlantic City’s decline.
Vegas is still a big draw, but it’s an anomaly these days. Destination gambling, as it was once known, is dying: 80 percent of states now have some form of legalized gaming.
9:01 PM, Oct 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
As President Obama spoke this evening in Wisconsin, the crowd began to file out. Here's video that captures some folks leaving, even as Obama's voice can be heard in the background:
Mike Lowe, a political reporter, also made the observation on Twitter. "Some people --not a lot, but some -- are leaving as the President is speaking," wrote Lowe.
After the high drama of a recall, Scott Walker runs a low-key reelection campaign.Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By JOHN MCCORMACK