Opinion
Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in this June 4, 2012 file photo.  REUTERS/Darren Hauck Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in this June 4, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Hauck  

Media Aids And Abets Left-Wing Smear Of Governor Scott Walker

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William A. Jacobson
Publisher, Legal Insurrection
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      William A. Jacobson

      William A. Jacobson is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law. He is a 1981 graduate of Hamilton College and a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School. Professor Jacobson also is the founder and publisher of two popular websites, Legal Insurrection and College Insurrection.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has had a massive left-wing target on his back ever since he ran for Governor in 2010, but particularly after 2011 when Walker signed into law a bill scaling back some public sector union collective bargaining rights.

There are few, if any, Republican politicians as hated on the left as Walker.

Walker’s not the most ideological Republican, but he is singled out because he so soundly and repeatedly defeated national efforts to stop collective bargaining reform.

The demonization of Walker is pervasive, and so-called “John Doe” investigations always have been an integral part of that effort. The mere pendency of such investigations is a critical part of anti-Walker messaging.

“John Doe” investigations in Wisconsin have been around for over a century, but only recently have they been used as political tools. Everything surrounding these types of investigations is secretive. They are commenced with a secret request to a judge, and a judge has to approve subpoenas.

Neither the persons who are the focus of the investigation nor persons subpoenaed are permitted to disclose to others any information about the existence or conduct of the investigation.

In 2010, local Democratic prosecutors began “John Doe No. 1,” an investigation of Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, alleging that Walker supposedly misused the office for political purposes. The pendency of a John Doe investigation was used against Walker.

In 2011, the Wisconsin state legislature passed, and Walker signed, a law scaling back some public sector union collective bargaining. In the recall campaign launched against Walker, John Doe No. 1 again was used against Walker to create insinuations of corruption. It didn’t work, and Walker survived the recall.

After two years of effort, John Doe No. 1 was closed in 2012 with no evidence of abuse by Walker, but that doesn’t stop Walker opponents from claiming he was tainted by the probe.

Local prosecutors however started a second John Doe proceeding in February 2012, although its existence was not publicly acknowledged until 2013.

In secret filings in John Doe No. 2, at the time known and seen only by prosecutors and the judiciary, prosecutors alleged that Walker headed a “criminal scheme” to violate campaign finance laws.

Two judges have looked at John Doe No. 2, and both have said there is no case against Walker or his supposed co-conspirators.

In the state court action, a Judge refused to issue subpoenas, finding the prosecutors “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.”

A second time, this time in federal court, a judge looked at the allegations, and found that even if everything the prosecution claimed was true, no crime was committed and that the prosecutors violated the targets’ First Amendment rights.

So twice judges have found that there is no case against Walker or the others targeted.