Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Tag: John Doe Investigation

Former PA AG Sentenced

Remember that she is going to jail for almost exactly what someone involved in Wisconsin’s unconstitutional John Doe persecution did. Will here be prosecutions in Wisconsin?

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison for perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of office charges.

Kane, the first Democrat to be elected to Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement position, resigned in August after being convicted on all nine counts.

Kane had asked to be sentenced to house arrest, but prosecutors argued her misuse of office was worthy of jail time.

The swift downfall of the once-rising star, seen as a potential candidate for governor or a U.S. Senate seat, began after she leaked secret grand jury material in hopes of embarrassing a political rival. Kane later lied about her role in the leak while under oath.

Kane was convicted of leaking grand jury information meant to undermine a former top prosecutor who had begun a sting investigation into six Philadelphia-area officials, including five state legislators. Kane did not prosecute the six officials, and she blamed a leak to the Philadelphia Inquirer on the former prosecutor.

She then handed older grand jury information to another paper, the Philadelphia Daily News, in a bid to undermine that former prosecutor.

Doe Prosecutors Abuse Power Again By Illegally Leaking Documents

These people have no shame and no morals. This is what a rogue prosecutor looks like.

It’s supposed to be a secret investigation. But it never really was.

Leaking like a sieve since Day One, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s politically-fueled John Doe investigation into Wisconsin conservatives saw its biggest leak yet on Wednesday. With weeks left on its legal clock before the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take the case, 1,500 pages of documents related to the case were leaked to the U.K. Guardian.

How did that happen? After all, these documents were supposed to be sealed. At one point, they were ordered to be destroyed by the late federal judge Rudolph Randa in May 2014.

Doe Inquisitors Lash Out


Milwaukee County investigators fired back Friday at Attorney General Brad Schimel in a court filing, calling his public statements about their actions in a halted John Doe probe into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign “defamatory” and “unacceptable.”

Last month, Schimel asked a federal judge in a related lawsuit not to block the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s order that the investigators turn over evidence collected in the John Doe investigation, which the state court halted in July.

In a statement issued the same day as his filing, Schimel said the state high court determined investigators “are requesting the federal court contradict the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s order requiring that the evidence unlawfully seized by the John Doe investigators be kept under seal.”

Schimel also told conservative talk radio hosts that day that the investigators were illegally holding the evidence and that they “stole” it, according to a transcript of the interview.

John Doe Targets Notified

Wow. Just. Wow. As part of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling killing the John Doe investigation, the court ordered the prosecutors to tell everyone they had investigated what they had taken as part of the investigation.

As it turns out, virtually every prominent conservative activist in the state was being secretly investigated. Brian Fraley reacts to the news here:

Well, what do you know. The soon-to-be-history Government Accountability Board and their hackneyed John Doe investigation of Wisconsin conservatives had me in their sights all along.

Yesterday, my former employer let me know that disgraced former Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz sent me a letter informing me that four years of my emails, online calendar, and all documents stored in the Google Drive cloud had been seized during the John Doe witch hunt.

Included in these emails are pdfs of my tax returns.

All my online passwords.

All my personal health records and those of my oldest daughter.

Credit card and banking statements.

In short, they sought and (thanks to a Judge who didn’t scrutinize the request) they received everything emailed by or to me for nearly four years. All over a suspected violation of campaign finance law, which has subsequently been determined by the court to be based on a flawed interpretation of state law.

There are others. Consider the utter lawlessness and intrusiveness of this. It’s like something out of North Korea. Citizens who had done nothing wrong had years worth of personal data collected and sifted through by government officials without ever even notifying the victims that they were being investigated. And, to keep it in perspective, we aren’t talking about an investigation of the Mafia here. We’re talking about people possibly coordinating political activities – something that was never a crime.

The legislature chose to reform instead of scrap the John Doe laws in Wisconsin. They should revisit that decision. Prosecutors should not have so much power to operate in secrecy.

Doe Prosecutors Violate Civil Rights of Targets

And then whine about being a target themselves.

Attorneys for Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and the investigators who conducted the John Doe probes into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaigns say the Wisconsin Supreme Court is jeopardizing their right to a fair trial.

Chisholm, two other prosecutors and three investigators in his office are being sued in federal court by Cindy Archer, a former Walker aide. In the lawsuit, filed in July, Archer alleges that Chisholm and the five others “carried out a campaign of harassment and intimidation” and violated her constitutional rights during their investigation.

In the latest memorandum filed Monday, attorneys for Chisholm and the other defendants argue that the state Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding evidence from the John Doe investigations are preventing them from defending themselves in court.

Even if you support the John Doe process, which I don’t, the entire purpose of the process is to keep the collected evidence secret to prevent damaging the folks being investigated until they are charged with a crime. If the court releases all of the collected evidence for the civil suit, those records become subject to discovery and public disclosure – thus invalidating the Doe process that collected the information.

Remember that if Chisholm had chosen to investigate with the normal process, those records would be readily available to him. The fact that he chose a secret investigation has its consequences.

Wisconsin Attorney General Tells Doe Prosecutor to Obey Supreme Court Ruling

Indeed, he should.

This has been a long, unfortunate chapter in Wisconsin’s history. The courts have unequivocally rejected the John Doe investigation, both in the manner in which it was carried out, as well as the legal arguments brought by the prosecutors. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has now ordered that the property seized be returned. For everyone involved, the special prosecutor should end the case, and the property seized from the individuals in this case should be returned immediately.

Will the Supreme Courts ruling be enforced?


Supreme Court Says (Again) Shut Down Doe

How many times do they have to say it?

The state Supreme Court today rejected a request to reconsider its July order shutting down John Doe II and rescinded the special prosecutor’s ability to continue overseeing the case.

The court ruled Francis Schmitz’s appointment as special prosecutor was invalid. But it made that order effective with the release of today’s decision, leaving him only limited powers to carry out the court’s order to return evidence seized in the probe into coordination between conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign during the recalls.

The ruling noted Justice David Prosser’s concurring opinion in the July decision also reached the conclusion that Schmitz’s appointment was invalid. But that view did not carry an order for Schmitz to cease his work.

Doe Prosecutors Violate Supreme Court Order

Given that the Supreme Court issued its order months ago for the prosecutors to immediately return or destroy all of the materials they confiscated in their illegal crusade, why do they still even have them?

Milwaukee County prosecutors want a federal court to order them to preserve evidence from a John Doe probe that the state Supreme Court has said must be destroyed.

Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm and two of his top deputies argued in yesterday’s filing the materials the state Supreme Court wants returned to witnesses or destroyed may be essential to their defense in a lawsuit filed against them by former Walker aide Cynthia Archer.

Archer’s lawsuit claims she was targeted in John Doe I for her work helping Gov. Scott Walker advance Act 10.

The prosecutors said the Supreme Court order, which shut down John Doe II, does not make specific reference from the first secret probe, which resulted in the convictions of six aides or associates of then-Milwaukee County Exec Walker. But the evidence compiled in John Doe II, which focused on coordination between Walker and conservative groups in the recall elections, includes some evidence from the first probe, according to the filing.

The order from the state Supreme Court requires prosecutors to “return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all the copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.”

Prosecutors Thought Walker Committed a Felony

It doesn’t matter what they thought. What matters is what is truth – and what they can prove. Clearly, they couldn’t prove their case and didn’t even try to prosecute him. I suspect that’s because the truth is that Walker didn’t do anything illegal. But there’s another concerning aspect of this:

Prosecutors believed Gov. Scott Walker committed a felony when he was Milwaukee County Executive for his role in the rejection of a lease extension for county office space, a Wednesday court filing shows.

Walker, who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, was never charged with a crime, and has long said he was never a target of the secret 2011 John Doe investigation into his county office.

On Wednesday, prosecutors filed into the court record a 2011 request for a search warrant that was part of the investigation. The filing in federal court came in response to a lawsuit brought against the prosecutors, by Walker aide Cindy Archer, who also was under investigation.

They wrote in the search warrant request that there was probable cause to believe Walker, Friends of Scott Walker campaign treasurer John Hiller and real estate broker Andrew Jensen violated state public office misconduct laws in 2010.

None of them, or Archer, were charged.

Doesn’t this all demonstrate the farce of the John Doe process? The purported purpose of giving prosecutors all of the secret powers of the John Doe protections is so that they can investigate people without damaging their lives and reputations should the prosecutors not find any wrongdoing. But throughout both John Doe investigations around Walker, information leaked like crazy and documents are still being released even though the investigation has been closed for years. If there isn’t going to be any secrecy for the targets anyway, then what is the point of the John Doe laws in the first place?

I’ll go back to what I said years ago… the John Doe laws are an unconstitutional abomination. They should be tossed into the garbage heap and let the normal rules of probable cause and due process apply.

Doe Targets Speak Out

The more we hear about how the John Doe investigation went, the more we realize just how abusive and out of control the whole thing was.

Prominent Republican political strategist R.J. Johnson told a Wall Street Journal editorial writer he was in an airplane when word reached him that his 16-year-old son had awakened in their home to find six law enforcement officers executing a search warrant.

“He was told he couldn’t move, that he couldn’t call a lawyer, that he couldn’t call his parents,” Johnson told the newspaper. “He was a minor and he was isolated by law enforcement.”


At the end of the session, Johnson said, Milwaukee Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf asked him: “‘Is there any reason at the end of the campaign you deleted all of your emails?’ So I knew then I had been tracked all the way through, that they had been reading my emails.” But Johnson said he was surprised when he learned his house was searched as part of the second investigation.

The leader of the state’s business lobby said in the article that prosecutors obtained its records with a subpoena, not a search warrant. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce hired consultants to copy large quantities of digital information for prosecutors, president and CEO Kurt Bauer said.

“I think part of the goal was to chill our fundraising and keep us off the airwaves,” Bauer said. “So the money and time we had to spend defending ourselves was money and time that we couldn’t spend toward issue advocacy.”

John D’oh!

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a ruling last week that finally put an end to the outrageous John Doe investigation of alleged campaign laws violations between Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign and third-party organizations. It was a sweeping, forceful and utterly definitive ruling with the only disappointment being it was not unanimous.

In combining and resolving three cases regarding the John Doe investigation, the ruling made it crystal clear when Justice Michael Gableman stated, “Let one point be clear: Our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.” The court also ruled, “It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a perfect storm of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent unnamed movants and those who dared to associate with them.”

The ruling gives some details about the John Doe investigation that were previously secret that show how utterly out of control the prosecutor was in this investigation. It is easy to read the ruling and see it as a win for Walker and paint it with a partisan hue, but evaluating the issues involved — absent the political ramifications — reveal just how important it is for protecting our liberty.

As a people, we invest our prosecutors with a tremendous amount of power and legal protections that allow them to levy that power. In return, we expect prosecutors to be the pinnacle of discretion and measured judgment when using that power. The power of a prosecutor to investigate, charge and try citizens has enormous ramifications for the prosecutor’s target. Even if the one being investigated and prosecuted is innocent, it can cost them savings, privacy, reputation and peace of mind.

In this case, the facts show the John Doe prosecutors shockingly abused their power. They swept up emails, computers, files and other information about people on their hit list, including personal material and material from months prior to when Walker’s recall election even started. Much of this material was not, and could not have been, related to recall election politics. Worse than that, the prosecutors used tactics usually reserved for violent gang members like pre-dawn paramilitary raids on the targets’ homes — scaring children — and demanding that they remain silent as the investigation leaked damaging documents to the media. And all of this was done for something that, as several judges who ruled prior to the Wisconsin Supreme Court said, was not even a crime.

What happened here is clear. The John Doe prosecutors willfully and maliciously abused their power to intimidate conservative advocates into silence and damage their ability to participate in Wisconsin’s political conversation. They did so while concealing their actions behind the secrecy protections of the John Doe process and the protections afforded all prosecutors from being held accountable for their actions.

As it stands, the John Doe prosecutors have suffered a legal defeat, but have not been held accountable for their egregious abuse of power. While the targets of their investigation have suffered great harm despite their confirmed innocence, the prosecutors have not felt any consequences for their actions. If Wisconsinites are to have confidence in our prosecutors to use their vast powers in a judicious, non-partisan, fair and humble manner, the John Doe prosecutors must be held responsible for abusing that power. While some of the victims of their abuse are seeking relief in civil suits, the prosecutors should be investigated for criminal wrongdoing.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has affirmed Wisconsinites’ constitutional-protected freedom of speech — even if that speech rankles liberal partisan prosecutors in Milwaukee. While the damage cannot be undone, justice demands consequences.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Ends John Doe Investigation

In a long ruling settling several cases at once, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has forcefully and completely ended the John Doe investigation as unconstitutional and outrageous.

To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law.  Consequently, the investigation is closed.  Consistent with our decision and the order entered by Reserve Judge Peterson, we order that the special prosecutor and the district attorneys involved in this investigation must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.  All Unnamed Movants are relieved of any duty to cooperate further with the investigation.

Good. Now the rogue prosecutors need to be held accountable.

Wisconsin Supreme Court to Rule on John Doe

On Thursday

Unnamed petitioners have filed two lawsuits seeking to halt the John Doe proceeding, Wisconsin’s version of a grand jury investigation where information is tightly controlled. Prosecutors have filed their own action seeking to reinstate quashed subpoenas in the probe. The high court is expected to rule in all three lawsuits.

It is widely expected that the court will put a stop to the investigation as both a state and federal judge have already ruled. Let’s hope so. Then, let’s hope that the prosecutors see some punishment for abusing their power as they have.

One thing though… it is completely unacceptable that the Supreme Court has taken this long to act. This has been a hot legal and political issue for months and months. The court has shown that it can act quickly when it needs to and chose not to do so in this case until not. One wonders if it was former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson holding up the process and the new Chief Justice got things moving along. In any case, it took far too long for the court to act on a case that has caused so much turmoil in the state.

The Victims of Chisholm’s Abuse of Power

You have to read this entire story in the National Review.

For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds.

The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer. And, yes, there were the warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends.

The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school. They, too, had to remain silent.

Bear in mind that these tactics, which are usually reserved for violent criminals, were used against people for allegedly doing things like sending emails about political issues on government time. The tactics were clearly used to intimidate and scare people. And it worked. Chisholm successfully silenced a wide swath of conservative activists during the election cycle.

We can’t change the past. Hopefully we can hold some of the people responsible for abusing the citizens with the power of their offices accountable. What we can do is make sure this doesn’t happen again by throwing the John Doe process into the trash can of well-intentioned, but bad policies. There’s no reason that Wisconsin can’t seek justice through a normal grand jury process like every other state.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Cancels Oral Arguments in Doe Case

This is a very interesting decision. One can see how difficult it would have been to hold the oral arguments and still preserve the secrecy provisions of the affair.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday canceled next month’s oral arguments on three cases related to the secret investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and said it will decide the issues based only on written filings.

The court had scheduled arguments for April 17 and April 20. But in its order late Friday afternoon the court said, “it is neither legally nor practically possible to hold oral argument.”

The three cases relate to a John Doe investigation into whether conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s recall campaign in 2012.

Unnamed parties have filed two lawsuits challenging the probe’s validity. Prosecutors have filed another action seeking to reinstate quashed subpoenas that halted the investigation more than a year ago.

The arguments before the Supreme Court, which are routinely open to the public, were expected to be awkward, given that much information remains shielded from public view, including names of petitioners.

The court had asked attorneys for everyone involved to come up with a plan for proceeding. They had suggested that public affairs network WisconsinEye could broadcast the arguments on a delay so secret information could be deleted out. But WisconsinEye wouldn’t agree to that.

“Wisconsin should be embarrassed…”


“Wisconsin should be embarrassed that it has a statute like this on the books, but it should also be embarrassed that it has a DA and a Government Accountability Board that didn’t understand the First Amendment implications of their behavior and what they are doing,” von Spakovsky said.

“Frankly, everyone on the GAB and these judges that authorized these John Doe investigations ought to resign in embarrassment,” he said.

Supreme Doe


MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases stemming from a John Doe investigation of fundraising and spending by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups backing him.

The court on Tuesday accepted a legal challenge from two targets of the probe; a separate lawsuit from those two targets and another; and an action by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to try to reinstate subpoenas that were quashed by the judge overseeing the investigation.

Prosecutors Give Up on John Doe

Of course… the election is over now. Tell me again that the John Doe wasn’t politically motivated…

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. – In a court filing that one constitutional law expert calls a “stunning reversal,” the Government Accountability Board appears to concede that the “legal theory” driving the secret John Doe investigation into Wisconsin conservatives is legally “indefensible.”

A joint motion filed by both parties on Election Day in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee stipulates that a court-issued injunction preventing the accountability board and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm from enforcing a constitutionally suspect section of Wisconsin campaign finance law will remain in force.

The agreement also halts further proceedings before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, while Milwaukee-based Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates, a conservative 501(c)(4) group, petitions the state Supreme Court to hear the case.

Federal Judge Orders State to Stop Enforcing Law Against Political Coordination


U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa issued a preliminary injunction, telling Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and the state Government Accountability Board they may not enforce a controversial section of Wisconsin campaign finance law.

The ruling was a win for conservatives who say Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, and the GAB have used Wisconsin election laws to stop them from participating in state campaigns.

In issuing the injunction, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa said his urgent action was required.

“In light of the important constitutional issues at stake, the Court agrees that CRG’s proposal is the appropriate procedure to follow under such unusual circumstances,” hewrote. “The general election is only three weeks away. Any further delay threatens to negate the effectiveness of CRG’s requested relief.”

Doe Target Asks for Special Prosecutor

Stuff just got real.

Long-time political activist Eric O’Keefe, a director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, on Monday sent a certified letter to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm demanding that Chisholm ask the Milwaukee County Circuit Court to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the conduct of the DA and his office.

Chisholm was not in his office Monday morning, according to an assistant. He could not be reached for comment.

O’Keefe notes that Wisconsin law prohibits a district attorney from using the powers and privileges of his office for the financial benefit of himself, his immediate family members, or an organization with which his immediate family members are associated.

A distric attorney also is prohibited from using those powers and privileges to obtain an unlawful advantage for third parties, such as political candidates and recall committees; to obtain through official functions for those illegitimate purposes; and from allowing his office to become de facto campaign grounds.

“Recently, credible factual reports suggest that you may have done all these things,” O’Keefe states in the letter.




Pin It on Pinterest