In an interview with the MacIver Institute’s Matt Kittle, state Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon) said he wants the legislature to pass a bill creating a joint legislative committee to to investigate the abuses of the John Doe “investigation” targeting Wisconsin conservatives. Under Craig’s bill, the legislature would grant itself subpoena power in order to compel testimony by the John Doe investigators.
“I think at the end of the day you have to have at least a piece of legislation that does create that committee, that does compel testimony, that does force bureaucrats, current and former, to appear before a legislative committee, swear an oath to tell the truth or assert their Fifth Amendment rights,” Craig told Kittle who was guest-hosting the Jay Weber Show. “There’s still a lot of stuff out there that we don’t know about.”
Craig’s call for a bicameral committee comes after last week’s release of a report by state Attorney General Brad Schimel and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the John Doe investigation by the now-defunct Government Accountability Board (GAB) detailing a massive domestic spying operation targeting Wisconsin conservatives. The investigation by the DOJ 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.”
Schimel referred former Government Accountability Board attorney Shane Falk for discipline to the Wisconsin Court System’s Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) and asked Judge William Hue to 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.”
After the report and the request made by Schimel, Hue stepped down as the judge overseeing the John Doe investigations after it was revealed that Hue had expressed opinions on the John Doe defendants in a Twitter exchange with RightWisconsin Editor James Wigderson.
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 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 coordination. The investigation, known as John Doe II, 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. The personal information was stored in boxes marked “opposition research.”
You can listen to the entire interview of Craig by the MacIver Institute’s Matt Kittle below: