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MADISON, Wis. -Newly released documents how prosecutors are alleging Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate with outside conservative groups.
The documents were filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging a secret John Doe investigation of conservative groups in Wisconsin and possible coordination with Walker's campaign. Wisconsin Club for Growth, as well as Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Citizens for a Strong America had challenged the investigation in court and a federal judge blocked it last month.
Documents related to the investigation and judge's decisions over the last few months were ordered publicly released Thursday by a federal appeals court judge after prosecutors and the Wisconsin Club for Growth did not object.
"The investigation focuses on a wide-ranging scheme to coordinate activities of several organizations with various candidate committees to thwart attempts to recall Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial candidates," special prosecutor Francis Schmitz said in the filing. "That coordination included a nationwide effort to raise undisclosed funds for an organization which then funded the activities of other organizations supporting or opposing candidates subject to a recall."
One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election.
In it, prosecutors allege a "criminal scheme" to coordinate fundraising and spending by the Governor and two of his top deputies, R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl.
Prosecutors say Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove. Documents detail an email allegedly sent by Walker to Rove in May of 2011.
"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9 Congressional markets in every market in the state," Walker allegedly told Rove.
Judges have not sided with prosecutors, though, as the lawsuit has continued.
The first reserve judge to handle the John Doe case granted the groups motion to quash a subpoena, saying that the state failed to show evidence of "express advocacy," or a violation of state elections law.
"The subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed," said Reserve Judge Gregory Peterson.
Prosecutors are appealing that order.
The groups also filed suit in federal court and last month Judge Rudolph Randa issued an injunction to stop the John Doe investigation, as well as return property and destroy information.
"The plaintiffs have been shut out of the political process merely by association with conservative politicians," said Randa in the decision. "This cannot square with the First Amendment and what it was meant to protect."
That decision is also being appealed by prosecutors and is being considered by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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