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Conservatives who backed Wisconsin Gov. Walker appear target of secret probe

Published November 23, 2013

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Nov. 14, 2013: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the state Capitol in Madison,

FILE: June 2, 2012: Spectators applaud at a rally held by the Racine Tea Party PAC in
Gorney Park in Caledonia, Wis.AP
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Dozens of conservative groups that support Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker
reportedly have been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor demanding donor lists and other
documents pertaining to their backing of Walker's union overhaul and recall fight.

The so-called "John Doe" investigation bars those subpoenaed from talking publicly.

But Eric O'Keefe, director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, told The Wall Street
Journal recently that investigators have raided at least three homes and that he "wants the
public to know what is going on," despite the personal risk.

He also suggested the probe is having a chilling effect on conservative groups as Walker
approaches a 2014 re-election effort.

He said the subpoenas, including the one he received in early October, "froze my
communications and frightened many allies and vendors of the pro-taxpayer political
movement in Wisconsin. ... The process is the punishment." reported in late October that authorities were confiscating equipment and
files from targets of the probe, and demanding phone and email records.
also reported this week that three of the unidentified targets have hired top First
Amendment and campaign finance experts as part of their defense team.

The Journal piece states more than two dozen groups received subpoenas -- ranging from
the Walker campaign and state-level organizations such as O'Keefe's and Wisconsin
Family Action to the national Republican Governors Association and American
Crossroads, co-founded by former Bush administration adviser Karl Rove.

This is the second time in less than four years that Walker has been investigated.
In 2010, Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm investigated
whether staffers for Walker, when he was county executive, used government offices for
political purposes. The probe closed in February with findings that included an aide
sending campaign email on government time but no charges against Walker.

Both probes were first reported by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The new investigation purportedly asks for donor information from nonprofit groups not
required to reveal such information and follows revelations this spring that conservative-
leaning groups seeking tax-exempt status from the IRS were also targeted for extra

It began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf,
according to the Journal, and is being led by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz.
Landgraf did not return a call this week seeking comment, and Schmitz also could not be

The author of the Journal article says that he has seen copies of two subpoenas related to
the 2011-12 recall effort on Walker and state senators, and that one demands: "all records
of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons
contributing to the corporation."

He writes the subpoenas don't make clear a specific allegation but the demands suggest
the government is looking at the possibility of independent groups illegally coordinating
with candidate campaigns.


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