Friday, Jan. 31, 2014

Is John Doe 2 Dead or Alive?

By Lisa Kaiser
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Did the new ruling by three appeals court judges breathe new life into John Doe 2, which had been dealt a seemingly fatal injury a few weeks ago when a judge quashed subpeonas sent to Gov. Scott Walker and some conservative groups? 

Eh. I don’t think so. The Doe’s alive, sure, but as far as I can tell it barely has a pulse at the moment.

The new ruling covers four objections raised by attorneys for anonymous parties affected by the Doe. (I hesitate to say that they’re targets. Who knows that they are.)

These objections were really weak, really just a delaying tactic. Throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick.

Not surprisingly, the judges dismissed those objections pretty handily.

So that should revive the Doe, right? I mean, Scott Walker's campaign and these outside, allegedly independent groups were illegally coordinating, right? It's so obvious!

I’m not an attorney, but I don't think the Doe is on solid ground right now. The ruling by Judge Gregory Peterson in January quashed the subpoenas sent to three groups—apparently including Walker's campaign committee—saying that the groups didn’t violate campaign finance laws by coordinating efforts.

Well, that may be what Peterson ruled. Remember—that tidbit was reported in an unsigned op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Peterson’s ruling hasn’t been made public. Nor is the Journal’s editorial page an unbiased source. It’s closely linked to officials of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the groups that received a subpoena. The Club has obvious reasons to spin the story to suit their case.

So until we see Peterson’s full order, we won’t know the status of the Doe. The special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, can appeal it, of course. But we won’t know how strong his case is until we know how broad Peterson’s order is.

A little sunlight, please, before declaring the Doe dead—or alive.

I’ll have much more on this in next week’s Shepherd.

(You can find a slew of unsealed Doe documents on Madison.com and the new order at JSonline.com.)


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