Thursday, July 16, 2015

The John Doe investigation might finally be over; Supreme Court to rule Thursday

By Eric Boehm |

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that could end a three-year-long investigation targeting conservative activists and Republican donors in the state.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday night the court is prepared to release its decision Thursday. The case before the court was brought by unnamed plaintiffs who are asking the court to order the investigation terminated.

A separate lawsuit, filed by the prosecutors in the case, is asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate subpoenas tossed by a lower court, according to the AP. The high court is expected to rule on both issues simultaneously.

The John Doe probe was launched in secret by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office in 2012 — though it actually started in 2010—  to investigate whether Gov. Scott Walker and conservative groups, such as the Wisconsin Club For Growth, coordinated illegally during a recall campaign that targeted Walker and a number of Republican state lawmakers.

As Watchdog has reported, the probe has been the subject of several court battles, but the state Supreme Court could slam the door.

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa issued the preliminary injunction halting the probe, though that ruling was eventually overturned.

A few months later the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit declared unconstitutional sections of Wisconsin’s law that deal with special interest group spending – the law conservative groups supposedly violated during the recall effort, even though no one has been charged.

In that ruling, the 7th Circuit found the state’s ban on political spending by corporations unconstitutional. It cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened previous restrictions on campaign finance.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed in December to hear the case, after declining to do so on previous occasions because of its political nature.

The seven-member Supreme Court is generally viewed as conservative, even though the justices are officially non-partisan.

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