Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told WISN-AM’s Jay Weber that a report from the Attorney General on the John Doe investigation of Wisconsin conservatives vindicated the decision to close the Government Accountability Board (GAB).
“You know, we had worried that Kevin Kennedy and all the people who were working at the elections commission and the GAB were somehow biased in their decision making, but we really couldn’t prove it,” Vos said in an interview Thursday. “And now we know without a doubt that individuals who were involved were literally leading the partisan witch hunt in a way that totally vindicates the decision that we made to get rid of the old model and to go with one where it’s bipartisan. It’s equal Democrats, equal Republicans, so if any decision is being made, it can’t be made in such a partisan way.”
A report by state Attorney General Brad Schimel and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the John Doe investigation by the now-defunct 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.”
Hue has since resigned as the John Doe judge after an email exchange with RightWisconsin Editor James Wigderson was uncovered that revealed Hue’s bias against those who were the victims of home raids by the John Doe investigators.
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.
In response to a question from Weber, Vos said the Democrats’ partisanship on the John Doe issue was the most frustrating aspect of it. “But all I hear is chirping crickets because they still believe in the partisan witch hunt because of the goals of the witch hunt was worthy,” Vos said. “But how about the methods that were used which really violated people’s personal privacy.”
“I mean, talking about Leah Vukmir’s private emails with her daughter and her health care?” Vos said. “Why in the world would you keep those kinds of records?”