While Chris Christie’s bridge scandal is dominating the headlines, a lesser-known potential scandal is brewing in Wisconsin. As the Wall Street Journal reported in November, “a special prosecutor is targeting conservative groups that participated in the battle over Governor Scott Walker’s union reforms.”
The allegation is of improper coordination between the campaign and conservative outside groups, and the real danger may simply be that a denouement isn’t reached until after November (Walker’s re-election). Already, it has been months. As Eric O’Keefe, head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, told the Journal, he “received his subpoena in early October” and “at least three of the targets had their homes raided at dawn, with law-enforcement officers turning over belongings to seize computers and files.”
Even if no indictments are ever issued, this has the potential to do at least four things: 1). Cast a cloud over Scott Walker as he seeks re-election 2). Impact Walker’s presidential ambitions, 3). Destroy the conservative movement/infrastructure in Wisconsin, by keeping them on the sidelines, filing out paper work, and complying with legal demands, and 4). Use this incident as an argument to rewrite judicial laws concerning disclosure or undermine the Citizens United ruling.
But that’s assuming nothing turns up. When you seize enough computers, you’re bound to come up with something unseemly. And just as the emails served as a smoking gun in the Chris Christie scandal, all it takes is one rogue activist who got sloppy — or acted outside the legal or ethical bounds — to cause Walker a ton of grief.
And make no mistake, Democrats are still gunning for Walker. As James Hohmann just reported,
Mary Burke, Scott Walker’s challenger, raised $1.4 million in 1st 3 months as a candidate–and chipped in an additional 400K of her own $.
— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) January 9, 2014
Interestingly, both Chris Christie and Scott Walker both defeated more conservative Republicans on their way to the state house (former Mayor Steve Lonegan in New Jersey and former Rep. Mark Neumann in Wisconsin). And both men then further defied the odds, becoming heroes of the right by taking on powerful unions in blue states.
Now, they may have something else in common. Heading into the 2016 presidential race, where a lot of smart analysts have said the GOP should nominate a governor, Democrats may be hoping to use scandals to strangle these Republicans babies in their crib.