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Posts tagged "Wisconsin"

Scott Walker’s cronies have ruined Wisconsin once again. It’s time to get rid of him at the ballot box in November! 

h/t: Scott Bauer at TPM

H/T: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM

A Wisconsin insurance executive and Republican donor was charged with voting illegally more than a dozen times in four elections.

The Journal-Sentinel reported that 50-year-old Robert Monroe was caught as a result of an investigation into a possible illegal voting by his son in Waukesha County. But after his son denied requesting an absentee ballot from his father’s address in Shorewood, suspicion turned to Monroe.

A complaint claimed that Monroe voted five times in Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recalled election. He also was accused of voting illegally in a 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a 2012 primary, and the 2012 presidential election.

Although the complaint did not state who Monroe voted for, WISN determined that he had donated money to Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling.

Prosecutors used Monroe’s cell phone records to prove that he traveled all the way to Indiana to cast a second vote in the 2012 presidential election. Prosecutors also tested some of the ballots for genetic material, and only found DNA belonging to Monroe.

In May of 2012, prosecutors said that Monroe begged his ex-wife, sons and brother to register to vote in a text message.

“You must go to city hall and register to vote,” the message said. “Every vote will be needed!… Please please please.”

According to the complaint, Monroe worked as an executive in the health care industry. His LinkedIn page indicated that he was an insurance executive, who said he loved “the thrill of the hunt, leading teams and developing new business.”

For his part, Monroe insisted to investigators that he did not remember voting in the elections because he takes drugs for Attention Deficit and Obsessive Compulsive disorders.

Monroe faces 13 felony election fraud charges in all, including voting more than once, voting as a disqualified person, registering in more than one place, and providing false information to election officials. He could spend up to 18 months in prison, and pay a $10,000 fine for each charge.

His next court date was set for July 17.

Watch the video below from WISN, broadcast June 23, 2014.

H/T: David Edwards at The Raw Story

A secret criminal investigation made national news with the disclosure that prosecutors had alleged Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and others.

But the next day, the Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate said the John Doe probe had been resolved and that two judges had said it was “over.”

Here is part of the June 20, 2014 interview of Walker by Steve Doocy, host of the network TV talk show “Fox & Friends”:

Doocy: ”So, over the last couple of years, there’s been some legal action out in Wisconsin. And some of the documents were unsealed yesterday. We’ve got to point out, you were never charged with anything. But at one point, they allege that you had a central role in a criminal fund-raising scheme. OK, tell us what you did.”

Walker: ”Well, don’t just take my word for it. Look at the facts. The facts are pretty clear.

"You’ve had not one but two judges — a state judge and a federal judge; a state judge (who is) a well-respected court of appeals judge, and a federal judge more recently — have both looked at this argument. And in the past, not just recently — remember this is not new news, it’s just newly released yesterday because documents were opened — but no charges, case over.

"Both judges said they didn’t buy the argument. They didn’t think that anything was done that was illegal, and so they’ve gone forward and not only said, we don’t buy it, they actually shut the case down, both at the state and at the federal level.

"So, many in the national media and even some here in Wisconsin are looking at this (case) backwards. This is a case that’s been resolved, that not one but two judges have said is over. And we’re just learning about it because it became open in a document yesterday. But there is no argument there."

Is that it?

Is Walker right that the Doe case has been “resolved” and two judges have said it is “over”?

Experts say no. After all, one of the key court rulings that has stalled the investigation is a “preliminary injunction.” And that is on appeal.

What’s the case about?

Under Wisconsin law, a John Doe is “intended as an independent, investigatory tool to ascertain whether a crime has been committed and, if so, by whom.”

Unlike standard criminal investigations, law enforcement officials in a John Doe have special powers, including the power to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses under oath and to issue subpoenas requiring witnesses to turn over documents.

Another key difference is that the judge overseeing a Doe can — and typically does — order that the proceedings be done in secret, unlike the vast majority of court proceedings.

Walker has been connected to two John Doe investigations.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, conducted a wide-ranging probe of aides and associates to Walker going back to Walker’s time as Milwaukee County executive. That investigation, sometimes known as John Doe I, led to six convictions, ranging from misconduct in office for campaigning on county time to stealing from a veterans fund.Walker was not charged, and that investigation was shut down in March 2013.

Before closing that probe, however, Chisholm launched a separate investigation in the summer of 2012 based on information learned in the first one. To get what has been termed John Doe II off the ground, Chisholm worked with district attorneys from four counties — members of both parties — and the state Government Accountability Board, which administers the state’s elections and ethics laws. Francis Schmitz, a former assistant U.S. attorney and self-described Republican, was named special prosecutor in the case.

Walker’s evidence

Alleigh Marre, spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign, cited two court documents to back Walker’s claim. It’s not clear what she was referring to in the first document, a December 2013 court filing by Schmitz, and she didn’t respond to our request to elaborate.

The second document was a court order that John Doe Judge Gregory Peterson issued on Jan. 10, 2014. It quashed subpoenas that had been issued to Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. And it ordered the return of any property seized with those subpoenas or with search warrants served on two officials of the groups.

But the order did not resolve the case.

Indeed, in his order, Peterson made reference to the possibility of his ruling be appealed. And the order has been challenged and is awaiting a ruling from the state Court of Appeals.

Other legal action

Another key ruling was made in federal court, by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa.

In February 2014, the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth and one of its directors, Eric O’Keefe sued in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee in an attempt to stop the Doe investigation, saying it violated their rights to free speech, free association and equal protection under the law.

Three months later, Randa issued a preliminary injunction halting the probe while he considered the lawsuit. He said it appeared prosecutors were violating the First Amendment rights of Club for Growth and O’Keefe. And he ordered prosecutors to return any material they had gathered in the investigation and destroy whatever copies of it they had made.

But as the term “preliminary injunction” would indicate, that did not mean the case had been resolved or was over.

Indeed, Randa’s ruling has been appealed and the parties are awaiting a decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Experts weigh in

We consulted five attorneys who have represented multiple clients in criminal John Doe investigations — Madison defense attorneys Marcus Berghahn and Stephen Morgan (Morgan is a former state and federal prosecutor); Milwaukee defense attorneys Jeremy Levinson, who also handles campaign finance cases for Democrats, and Raymond Dall’Osto; and Marquette University Law School professor and former state prosecutor Daniel Blinka.

Bottom line: The John Doe investigation case has been stopped for the time being, but it has not been resolved. The rulings by judges Peterson and Randa are not final and are being appealed. The appellate rulings could also be appealed.

And if the Chicago appeals panel overrules Randa, the investigation can resume.

"Once the Court of Appeals decides the merits of the case and if no party appeals the Court of Appeals’ decision, then it may be possible to say that the cases are over — unless the case is returned to the trial court or John Doe Judge for further litigation," said Berghahn.

Said Blinka: “The governor’s remark overlooks the role of the appellate courts. The final resolution is up to the appellate courts, and only when the appellate process has run its course will we have a final resolution.”

It’s notable that at times during his governorship, Walker has been in the position of supporting appeals when a lower-court ruling has gone against him.

In 2012, when judges struck down parts of Walker’s Act 10 — the law ending most collective bargaining for most public employees — the state appealed, and higher courts so far have upheld the law.

And on same-sex marriage, which Walker opposes, he didn’t concede that a ban on gay marriages was dead when a federal judge found Wisconsin’s ban unconstitutional. Indeed, he’s backing the state’s appeal of the judge’s ruling.

Similarly, the status of the Doe case is being hammered out in the appeals process.

Our rating

Walker said the secret John Doe criminal investigation of his campaign has been “resolved” and two judges have said it is “over.”

His characterization is misleading at best. The investigation has been stopped, for now, under one judge’s ruling.

But the second ruling, while a serious blow, did not end the probe, and in any event prosecutors have appealed the two rulings Walker mentioned.

We rate Walker’s statement False.

h/t: PolitiFact Wisconsin

dailykos:

And he wants to be president!

He’s getting coal from Santa this Christmas. 

Hopefully he gets his ass voted out of office in November. Vote for Mary Burke (D)!!! 
h/t: :Philip Bump at WaPo’s The Fix

h/t: Alec MacGillis at The New Republic

thepoliticalfreakshow:

MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge on Friday put same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold, a week after she struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, a move that allowed more than 500 couples to wed over the last eight days.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling Friday means that gay marriages will end while the appeal from Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pending. Couples who were in the middle of the five-day waiting period to get a license, which most counties waived, are caught in limbo.

Van Hollen requested Crabb put her ruling on hold, arguing that allowing the marriages while the underlying case was pending created confusion about the legality of those marriages.

Crabb, who held a 30-minute hearing before issuing her written order, hinted strongly that she was likely to halt further marriages because the U.S. Supreme Court had done that in a similar case out of Utah.

But in her order, she expressed mixed feelings about it.

“After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured in media reports, I find it difficult to impose a stay on the event that is responsible for eliciting that emotion, even if the stay is only temporary,” Crabb said in her order. “Same-sex couples have waited many years to receive equal treatment under the law, so it is understandable that they do not want to wait any longer. However, a federal district court is required to follow the guidance provided by the Supreme Court.”

The ruling came exactly one week after Crabb ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. But Crabb didn’t issue any orders on how state officials were to implement her decision, and amid the uncertainty, nearly every Wisconsin county – 60 of 72 – issued licenses.

Crabb issued an order preventing clerks from denying same-sex couples marriage licenses, but then put that on hold as well as her earlier ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional.

John Knight, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law, called her decision to put her order on hold disappointing.

“But we will fight for a quick resolution on appeal and are confident that marriage will be a reality in Wisconsin very soon for lesbian and gay couples who have waited much too long already,” he said in an email.

Van Hollen had no immediate reaction.

As of midday Thursday, 555 same-sex couples had gotten married in the state, based on an Associated Press survey of all 72 counties. There was a rush to get married in Madison and Milwaukee on June 6, when Crabb released her decision, and then again earlier this week throughout the state as other counties began issuing licenses.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb

Van Hollen said Thursday that same-sex couples with marriage licenses aren’t legally married because Crabb hasn’t issued an order telling county clerks how to interpret her ruling striking down the law. Van Hollen also said district attorneys could charge clerks who issued licenses with a crime.

Crabb reiterated in Friday’s 30-minute hearing that clerks were issuing licenses to same-sex couples on their own.

“I never told them not to and I never told them to do it,” Crabb said.

The ACLU and others say because Crabb found the law unconstitutional, and didn’t order clerks not to issue licenses, they could legally give them to couples seeking to get married.

Crabb’s order did not address whether same-sex marriages completed over the past week are valid.

Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment, approved by 59 percent of voters in 2006, outlawed gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The ACLU said the ban violated the constitutional rights of eight gay couples to equal protection and due process and Crabb agreed.

Gay rights activists have won 15 consecutive lower court cases since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer, with Wisconsin being the latest.

Wisconsin is among 13 states with gay marriage cases pending before appeals courts. Twelve are with six different federal appeals courts, and one in Arkansas is before a state appeals court. A final ruling on Wisconsin’s case likely is months away.

The cases that are furthest along originated in UtahOklahoma and Virginia, based on decisions issued in December, January and February. Federal appeals court judges have heard arguments in those cases, and rulings are expected soon.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to weigh in during its next session beginning in October.

The order is here.

Developing story, check back for updates.

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW 

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Wisconsin will become the 20th state to legalize marriage equality, once the likely stay gets lifted. Three states bordering Wisconsin have legalized such marriages: Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.  

And the likes of Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, Glenn Grothman, Mark Belling, Paul Ryan, VCY America, and Charlie Sykes are not happy about this news at all.

crooksandliars:

Scott Walker Angers Conservative Activists By Wanting To Settle John Doe Case

As Digby notes in Salon, Scott Walker is the latest Midwest governor to be anointed a hero by conservatives when he beat the teacher’s union and he’s seen as a formidable presidential candidate for 2016, but that was before the John Doe case came along.

After some early success with the case, Activists like Club For Growth and the WSJ are now freaking out that he may want to settle the case. They can’t have that.

Scott Walker is falling apart: The little corruption problem he just can’t shake

And then they broke into a rousing rendition of “We shall overcome.” The affiliated big money right-wing groups like Club for Growth and American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity were undoubtedly very pleased at that outcome. And they were also undoubtedly very pleased with one Scott Walker who was standing up nicely to the pressure and getting their backs when they had so generously padded his campaign coffers. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And then the bottom fell out

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h/t: LizWoodhouse at Daily Kos

crooksandliars:

Scott Walker Investigation Killed By Federal Judge Echoing Scalia's 'Money Is Speech' Ruling

This is terrible news for the people of Wisconsin and also for the rest of us. Wisconsin laws are strict on the question of coordination between outside groups and a candidate’s campaign, with good reason. However, to Judge Randa, there is no possible good reason to suppress “speech.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A federal judge ordered a halt Tuesday to the John Doe investigation into campaign spending and fundraising by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups, saying the effort appeared to violate one of the group’s free speech rights.

In his 26-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee told prosecutors to immediately stop the long-running, five-county probe into possible illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and a host of others during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.

The (Wisconsin Club for Growth and its treasurer) have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ‘ingrained in our culture,’” Randa wrote, quoting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

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