The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports this morning on a Twitter exchange I had with Bill Hue in 2016, who is currently the judge in charge of the John Doe investigation. (Interestingly, reporter Patrick Marley and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted my Tweet without mentioning my name or RightWisconsin in the article, a common courtesy I am extending to them now.)
The entire exchange about a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Cindy Archer, whose home was raided in the John Doe investigations, is below.
Hue told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he had forgotten about the Twitter exchange, and I had, too. But in the exchange, Hue takes the side of the John Doe investigators over Archer, which clearly indicates his bias in the matter. Hue also defends the release of the tape by the special prosecutor, which may indicate a bias about how he feels about leaks of information.
Hue told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would inform Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience “Pat” Roggensack of the Twitter exchange. (I might suggest to Hue to change his profile picture if he wants to be taken seriously.)
As the judge in charge of the John Doe investigation, Hue will decide whether to follow through on the recommendation of Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel in a report by the Department of Justice to refer former Government Accountability Board attorney Shane Falk for discipline to the Wisconsin Court System’s Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and initiate contempt proceedings against John Doe Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz and former Government Accountability Board (GAB) employees “who grossly mishandled secret John Doe evidence and related materials and then failed to turn over all evidence as ordered by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
Four former GAB employees mentioned in the DOJ report, including two of those recommended for contempt charges by Schimel, currently work for the state’s Ethics and Election Commissions, the successors to the now defunct GAB. State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) has called for their resignations.
The DOJ investigation uncovered a massive domestic spying operation targeting Wisconsin conservatives using the authority under the John Doe statute and the office of the Government Accountability Board. The investigation was prompted by a leak from the John Doe investigators to the British publication, The Guardian, in an effort to get the Supreme Court to allow the domestic surveillance operation to continue.
“As this report describes in detail, the systemic and pervasive mishandling of John Doe evidence likely resulted in circumstances allowing the Guardian leak in the first place, and now prevents prosecutors from proving criminal liability beyond a reasonable doubt,” the DOJ report said. “Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information.”
The original John Doe investigation dates back to Governor Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. It began as an investigation into the theft of funds from a county fundraiser meant to benefit veterans. It expanded into an investigation into whether employees were doing political work for other candidates while on the county’s time. Walker’s campaigns for governor and county executive were never implicated in the investigation.
The John Doe was then expanded into an investigation of conservative organizations and Walker’s campaign into whether there was any issue advocacy organization. The investigation was halted as the courts ruled that such issue advocacy was protected under the First Amendment.
However, the DOJ report makes clear that despite court orders halting the John Doe activities and demanding the information gathered be turned over to the courts, the GAB continued their activities and information continued to leak to the media from the investigators. Those leaks benefitted local publications like the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who turned a blind eye to the abuses by the special prosecutor and the John Doe investigators.
The report also revealed what was nicknamed “John Doe III” by the DOJ, another investigation launched by the GAB that continued to gather intelligence, or “opposition research” as some of the boxes of information were labeled. The partisan investigation delved into even the most personal aspects of conservatives’ lives, including 150 emails between state Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) and her daughter about health matters.