Despite the massive attempts to kill it, the decision to kill the latest John Doe Probe looking at illegal coordination between Scott Walker and other Republicans and anonymously dark money groups will be appealed to the US Supreme Court. For more background, see here.
The RW dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the investigation into illegal coordination had to end despite the fact that at least 2 of them literally owe their seats on the Wis Supremes to the SAME dark money groups under investigation and refused to recuse themselves. Later, when John Doe Probe Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz began efforts to appeal that ruling to the US Supreme Court, they removed him as Special Prosecutor which meant that he would have had to personally fund the appeal himself.
3 of the 5 local prosecutors have indicated that they would like to proceed with the appeal and on Friday night (Friday news dump anyone?) the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that they could, but continued to put their thumb on the scales of justice.
In a 4-1 unsigned decision, the state's high court found that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and two other Democratic DAs, Ismael Ozanne of Dane County and Larry Nelson of Iowa County, cannot share sealed documents with three outside counsels.
The three private attorneys in question work for the firm Reed Smith LLP, which handled the U.S. Supreme Court case, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. That decision dealt with whether state supreme court justices could sit on cases involving major political benefactors.
(bolding is mine)
The issues involving our own Wisconsin State Supreme Court are the same as that previous case since at least 2 of the Justices, Michael Gabelman and David (The Choker) Prosser benefitted from massive spending of the same groups that were under investigation. Both refused to recuse themselves despite the enormous conflict of interest, and voted to shut the probe down.
But, one might ask, outside of the similarities in the cases, why would the Wisconsin Supremes specifically prevent those 3 attorneys from Reed Smith to represent the appeal? It seems likely that it’s because not only were they familiar with arguing those issues, they were willing to represent the prosecutors free of charge, a huge savings in legal fees that local taxpayers would be paying for the appeal.
In addition, with the sudden loss of moderate Justice Crooks and Gov. Scott Walkers appointment of RW extremist Rebecca Bradley (his THIRD judicial appointment to her in 5 years) to fill the remainder of his term, the RW grip on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has tightened. Last year Republicans successfully removed long time Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson from her leadership position by changing how the Chief Justice is chosen to a vote of the Justices (how incredibly nice when you have a RW majority) rather than by length of service on the court.
They no longer fear losing on this matter since only 2 of the 7 Justices aren’t right wingers. With Bradley now running as “an incumbent” for a full 10 year term with the help of a brand new new astroturf group (Wisconsin Alliance for Reform) spending $400,000 to keep her on the Court, they’re determined to hang on to their heavy majority. It’s expected that the usual RW dark money groups will also spend heavily to attack the other candidates as they have done so effectively in the past to gain their large RW majority.
We’ll see what happens. Grassroots groups are working hard to defeat Bradley in the election April 5 (primary election Feb. 16). Joanne Kloppenburg, who “won” against David Prosser in 2011 until Waukesha County election clerk Kathy Nicklaus “found” bags of uncounted ballots 3 days later, is again running. Most grassroots groups have endorsed Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald instead. There is still a bad taste in our mouths about Kloppenburgs failure to pursue the ballot security shenanigans revealed by the 2011 recount.
If efforts to defeat Bradley are successful, the court would return to a 4:3 RW majority. Should the US Supremes determine that there was enough evidence of conflict of interest to demand recusals of the 2 conflict of interest Justices, the John Doe case would be decided without a RW majority and could be allowed to continue the investigation.
Of course, the US Supremes would need to agree to hear the case.