Very little is known about what’s called the John Doe 2. We know that a special prosecutor, former Republican federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz, is looking into the activities of some political groups during the Wisconsin recalls of 2011 and 2012.
Leaks to sympathetic media outlets indicate that John Doe 2 is focused on conservative groups such as Wisconsin Club for Growth, the Republican Governors Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and, perhaps most disturbingly, the Friends of Scott Walker.
We don’t know, however, if Schmitz is looking at similar groups that donate to Democratic candidates, since Eric O’Keefe, the head of Wisconsin Club for Growth who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, would likely have no knowledge of that. Remember—O’Keefe knows the contents of his own subpoena, which surely didn’t include a request for records of his group’s involvement with, say, Democrat Tom Barrett’s campaign.
So why has this drawn Schmitz’s attention?
Let’s follow the money. There certainly is a lot of it.
According to an analysis by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC), the groups that have been named in connection with John Doe 2 accounted for more than half of all campaign spending during all of the recalls, $70.5 million of the $137.5 million spent overall. The numbers are even more skewed in the Walker-Barrett race in 2012. WDC found that these groups spent an eye-popping $54.4 million—or 67%—of the $81 million spent during the race for governor. Remember, too, that for a long stretch of time—beginning when a recall petition is filed until an election is authorized—it is legal under Wisconsin law for the person being recalled to raise unlimited amounts of money from anyone for his campaign. As a result, Walker was able to raise an unheard-of $36 million for his recall defense. Yet these groups came to his aid anyway with an extra $18 million.
As the Shepherd was the first to report, the Wisconsin Club for Growth—whose longtime spokesman, R.J. Johnson, was a top political advisor to Walker and is featured prominently in Walker’s new memoir—received big donations from two national dark money groups. The Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights, which recently paid a record fine in California, gave the Club $225,000 in 2011. The Wellspring Committee gave the Club $400,000 that year, too. The Wisconsin Club for Growth then flowed money to the shadowy Citizens for a Strong America, which has ties to a dirty trickster from the Wisconsin chapter of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and Scott Jensen’s Brookfield-based Jobs First Coalition.
These conservative groups are already trying to smear the Republican prosecutor Schmitz and clog up our court system with frivolous claims to stop the investigation. When looking at the amount of money they invested in keeping Walker in power, it’s no wonder why they will stop at nothing to halt John Doe 2 in its tracks.