Yesterday, Scott Walker caught a break when the Wisconsin Supreme Court, on a party line vote, shut down a criminal investigation of his 2012 recall election campaign. The inquiry, called “John Doe” investigation, was led by a Republican special prosecutor on behalf of five Wisconsin county district attorneys who were probing whether Walker had broken state campaign finance laws when he and his aides steered donors to give to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a state-level chapter of the national organization that was then led by one of Walker’s top campaign staffers.
Prosecutors alleged and documents confirmed that Walker and his staff used the Wisconsin Club for Growth to gather recall campaign funds from a variety of in-state and out-of-state corporate and institutional sources, including the Republican Governors Association and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. “We own C.F.G.,” said R.J. Johnson, a Walker campaign official and paid staffer at the Club for Growth who was at the center of the case. In emails obtained as evidence, a Walker fundraiser wrote that “As the Governor discussed … he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging,” adding that “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.” In all, Wisconsin Club for Growth spent $9.1 million during the 2012 recall election after having dropped more than $800,000 to air misleading ads backing Walker’s 2011 attack on public sector workers and organizing public events, co-sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, on Walker’s behalf. The group also funneled money, some $3 million, to another conservative political organization called Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that went on to spend $4 million supporting Walker’s 2012 campaign.