Wisconsin Reporter says new John Doe investigation focused on conservative groups

2013-10-30T06:10:00Z Wisconsin Reporter says new John Doe investigation focused on conservative groupsJACK CRAVER | The Capital Times | jcraver@madison.com madison.com

A conservative news website is reporting that right-wing organizations are the target of a new John Doe probe launched by the Milwaukee County district attorney.

"For the second time in three and a half years, a Democrat District Attorney of Milwaukee County has launched a secret investigation into conservatives, with the apparent goal of bringing down Gov. Scott Walker," writes Wisconsin Reporter, which is part of a national network of conservative investigative news websites run by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a libertarian group based in Virginia.

Targeted organizations include the Republican Governors Association, the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, a group largely financed by Charles and David Koch. WR reports that Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf is investigating these groups for alleged campaign finance law violations, likely in connection with efforts that benefited Gov. Scott Walker or legislative Republicans.

It is not surprising, perhaps, that Wisconsin Reporter broke the news. The Franklin Center has close ties to the organizations that are alleged targets of the investigation. The website regularly coordinates events with Americans for Prosperity and Eric O'Keefe, the CEO of WR's parent organization the Sam Adams Alliance, was until recently the director of Club for Growth Wisconsin. 

The revelations come on the heels of a record fine levied in California against two groups with close ties to the Kochs for illegally funneling money to other groups fighting tax measures and supporting a measure that sought to cripple the ability of unions to spend money on political activities. In both instances, the Koch-supported initiatives lost.

However, according to what sources are telling WR, the potential violations in Wisconsin focus on employees of organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, which are supposed to be nonpartisan, assisting Republican campaigns.

Whether violations are ultimately uncovered, it is hardly a secret that state (and national) politics are heavily influenced by nonprofit groups that are nonpartisan in name only. These groups' messaging is often nearly identical to party communications. For instance, during last year's gubernatorial recall election, AFP championed the "Stand with Walker" slogan at rallies and in its large ad buys on TV and radio.

Government watchdogs have complained that AFP abuses its tax-exempt status to engage in partisan politics — the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed a complaint to the IRS over AFP ads in the run-up to the 2012 recall election. 

A notable exception to the typical Republican-friendly messaging: Recently David Fladeboe, the state director of AFP, penned a letter-to-the-editor extolling the controversial Madison "Snuggle House" as evidence of vibrant free-market capitalism. It is hard to imagine Walker doing the same anytime soon.

Republican operatives often shift between working for nonpartisan groups like AFP and jobs with Republican legislators or campaigns. For example, both Fladeboe and his deputy director, Sean Lansing, were staffers for former Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford. Suder's plans to join the Walker administration were scuttled after it was reported that he had pushed to award a state grant for hunting and fishing training to a conservative group, United Sportsmen, that had no training experience. 

Leaders of other conservative groups that regularly supplement Republican messaging, such as the MacIver Institute, American Majority and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, often get started as Republican staffers.

 

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(34) Comments

  1. Maerzie
    Report Abuse
    Maerzie - October 30, 2013 10:54 pm
    I learned this in 6th grade, Sr. Eustasia, FSPA, and who knows where she got it from?: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, AGAIN!"
  2. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - October 30, 2013 7:13 pm
    The soros connection is a false equivalency. Soros has is not being investigated for campaign finance abuses, or is he?
  3. S54k
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    S54k - October 30, 2013 5:28 pm
    Dode, like you, I want clean politics no matter what side is in question. I encourage you to send your evidence of illegal activities conducted by Jack and Johnny to:

    Wisconsin Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857

    Working together, we can expose not only walker's illegal activities but also any illegal media activities that you claim exist. Here's to a totally clean government! Thanks for your help Dode!
  4. S54k
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    S54k - October 30, 2013 12:29 pm
    Dode (below): last I checked, the republicans have all the power in Wisconsin. Hard for the Dems to be corrupted when they have no power to offer the corruptors. Kind of like focusing on Switzerland's nuclear program instead of Iraq's. We could spend time looking, but why when already know we'll come up with nada. But then again, if you have evidence of democratic corruption, I urge you to contact:

    Wisconson Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857
  5. witness2012
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    witness2012 - October 30, 2013 10:40 am
    You,too, TT33. Jump in, find your evidence, and report it. If Soros is funding left-leaning groups in Wisconsin, let's find out about it.

    No exceptions based on ideology, right?
  6. Mr Mellow
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    Mr Mellow - October 30, 2013 10:05 am
    FROM the corporate bankrolled, so-called 'conservative' tax exempt 'non-profits' that swear they are 'non-partisan' organizations doing 'research' and providing 'social welfare'...

    TO the corporate bankrolled campaign funds of so-called 'conservative' GOP candidates and elected officials, and their taxpayer paid staffers and appointed hacks...

    WHO DELIVER the pro-corporate policies and regulations, tax cuts, sweetheart loans, grants, and guarantees, outsourcing, supply, and services contracts, and see-no-corporate-evil 'enforcement' of laws and regs...

    IN RETURN FOR cushy jobs in the the corporate bankrolled, so-called 'conservative' tax exempt 'non-profits' that swear they are 'non-partisan' organizations doing 'research' and providing 'social welfare'...

    It's the revolving door of America's shadow government.
  7. Dode
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    Dode - October 30, 2013 8:10 am
    Ah, you must be Jim Doyle with your Halloween mask on.
  8. Dode
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    Dode - October 30, 2013 8:09 am
    Jack and Johnny are members of the media whose job is to watch our government and report to us on any corruption. But when the media is in bed with the government, we only get lies. The lies from the democrat front groups is the best negative campaigning democrat money can buy.
  9. morninmist
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    morninmist - October 30, 2013 8:09 am
    Fox News: We deceive. You believe. (billboard) pic.twitter.com/wQNFqyZx7Z #p2
  10. S54k
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    S54k - October 30, 2013 8:01 am
    Lynne, just like you, I want clean politics no matter what side is in question. I encourage you to send your evidence of any illegal activities regarding the Malcolm X School or any other illegal activities to:

    Wisconsin Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857

    Working together, we can expose not only walker's illegal activities but also any other illegal activities that you claim exist. Here's to a totally clean government! Thanks for your help Lynne!
  11. MCC
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    MCC - October 30, 2013 7:48 am
    Great comment -
  12. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - October 30, 2013 4:19 am
    You don't pay much attention, do you?
  13. Dode
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    Dode - October 29, 2013 10:37 pm
    That is the job of the media: to be the watchdogs of government. However, the dead media in this state only likes to watch Republicans. What are the chances they would turn in their friends in the democrat party?
  14. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - October 29, 2013 8:51 pm
    With all the crime going on in Milwaukee and Madison, one would think that there would be better use of taxpayer money.
    How about an investigation of the Malcolm X School in Milwaukee, and whose pockets are getting lined with that deal?
  15. Mr Mellow
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    Mr Mellow - October 29, 2013 8:09 pm
    And here we see once again the ultimate defense of the Right Wing sock puppets:

    "WELL, [Soros / Acorn / Lefties / Libs / Dems / Unions / Progs] DO IT TOO!"

    So after all their screeds about how all-of-the-above are WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING!, these same prolific puppets are now claiming EVERYBODY DOES IT?

    What an outstanding demonstration of the RIGHT'S ethical and moral superiority.
  16. witness2012
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    witness2012 - October 29, 2013 6:38 pm
    specifics please? Name them- name every liberal group that you feel received funds inappropriately and you think should be investigated.

    I'm all for that. Let's find out how every politically oriented group receives its money and what the conditions are. Let's get it all out there.
  17. witness2012
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    witness2012 - October 29, 2013 6:35 pm
    Soros-funded groups? Seriously? Have at it! Unearth every connection between Soros and left-leaning groups. I'm pretty sure you'll come up with nada.
  18. witness2012
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    witness2012 - October 29, 2013 6:28 pm
    No, Hogan's Heroes featured Sgt. Schulz.
  19. onwisconsin1
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    onwisconsin1 - October 29, 2013 6:24 pm
    Don't feed into this article...."It's a traaap!"

    Basically, a conservative source 'broke this story' to bait opponents into negative communication and thinking. It's nothing but political psych-ops, meant to immobilize and paralyze opponents from taking direct action....as the Governor likes to call it, "Divide and Conquer Politics." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1S_Pxw2n-U)

    If your opponent has the potential to beat you in the field, the best strategy is to feed their ego and re-assure them they are just. So, instead of having people going out and working in the field, they are now sitting around on computers, snickering, assuming that the Federal Government is going to magically swoop in and make things right. Here's reality: nothing is going to happen. It is perfectly fine to cheat at politics and get 'fined' for it later, while retaining power.

    If you think the guy is a crook, dedicate yourself to 10 days of field work in a solidly red area of the state with the local county party. And don't just sit in the office- get out and engage voters on the issues important to them, and in a positive manner. If you actually go out and talk to people, they change their minds pretty quickly...have enough faith that a simple conversation can undo the harmful effects of TV, Radio, and mailing propaganda. 80% of Wisconsinites are against the Mining Bills and taking away local government rights, 70% of Wisconsinites are against the Voter ID bill, 80% of Wisconsinites support wind farms, 80% of Wisconsinites think Indian Mascot names and logos are somewhat offensive, etc. etc. etc.

    Seriously folks, don't fall for this trap. It is meant to falsely re-assure that the snake is going to be taken out of office by an investigation.....which he won't. They are afraid of Burke, and know her momentum will be contagious. Want proof? Check out this website and who authorized it: http://www.maryburke.com/ Pretty strong stuff, eh?

    Seriously though....turn off your computers and hit the field.
  20. guirkymondo
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    guirkymondo - October 29, 2013 5:28 pm
    Tea Party Kim Simac's "Northwoods Patriots" = AFP funded.

    This ought to be good to watch.
  21. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - October 29, 2013 4:32 pm
    As usual MotR you failed to get the gist of the article. Conservative media broke the news on this. I wonder why that was? Oh that's right. Breaking the news allowed conservative sycophants to get out in front of the issue and start spinning is as some kind of persecution.
  22. Fartinthewind
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    Fartinthewind - October 29, 2013 4:29 pm
    So if I get this right, conservative media outlets are reporting that the John Doe investigation is focusing on conservative groups that were involved in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 election cycles. Sounds to me like the conservative media are trying to get out in front of this, trying to put the best spin on what may very well be a very bad situation.

    Frankly, I am not surprised by this. The last three election cycles saw a tremendous influx of outside money that was frequently steered towards "grassroots" campaigns supposedly run by political outsiders and neophytes.

    The Walker's of the world are probably well insulated on this one. The Koch brothers? Apparently they are already in big trouble in other states. Here's how I see the scenario unfolding.

    Large amounts of money go to "grassroots groups" (undermining the very term grassroots). To maintain the facade of a grassroots campaign these groups were supposedly run by people who had little political experience and great autonomy. We shouldn't be surprised that well meaning political neophytes would run askew of complex campaign finance laws. For the well meaning, a slap on the wrist should suffice. No heavy fines, no bans on future participation, no public castigation for technical transgressions.

    But I gotta ask. Does any out there actually think a bunch of political novices were given exorbitant amounts of money with no strings attached and little or no direction from above?

    Those who threw the money around should pay a heavy price if it can be shown that they either planned for the money to be used inappropriately or should have known that it was being used inappropriately. I am sure monied interests will try and lay the blame for any campaign finance law transgressions squarely at the feet of well meaning political neophytes. I am sure the monied interests will try and argue that campaign finance laws are just another layer of government regulations that infringe on our constitutional rights. No doubt such a strategy will play well with the tea party types. Such a strategy will be even more effective when it is paired with a choir of conservative sycophants chirping about persecution. But such a strategy will only serve as a deflection. The real issue is the behavior of monied interests. That's where we need to keep our focus.

    Some may ask why not investigate left leaning groups? My guess is they have. My guess is the left leaning groups had better prior experience, better direction and better brains. In many ways that means if they get caught in this trap it is less excusable. In many ways it means that like Walker, left leaning groups have probably insulated themselves better.

    But hey, here's to hoping this blows up in a lot of peoples' faces. Here's to hoping a lot of these grassroots neophytes finally realize they were being played all along by the big boys on the block. Here's to hoping we stifle monied conservative interests as effectively as we have stifled monied liberal interests.
  23. S54k
    Report Abuse
    S54k - October 29, 2013 4:27 pm
    totallyoffthefarrightshoulder, maybe you didn't see this message to dode so here it is again. Like you, I want clean politics no matter what side is in question. I encourage you to send your evidence of the illegal money spent by the democrats to:

    Wisconsin Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857

    Working together, we can expose not only walker's illegal activities but also any illegal democratic activities that you claim exist. Here's to a totally clean government! Thanks for your help totallyoffthefarrightshoulder!


    Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/jack_craver/wisconsin-reporter-says-new-john-doe-investigation-focused-on-conservative/article_b3c94a06-40b2-11e3-bda1-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz2j9H3CLzy
  24. Crow Barr
    Report Abuse
    Crow Barr - October 29, 2013 4:08 pm
    Was he the German Sergeant in Hogan's Hero's?
  25. Report Abuse
    - October 29, 2013 4:03 pm
    I agree. Let's just report on 1 side of every situation while ignoring the equal activities on the opposite side.
  26. dAnconia
    Report Abuse
    dAnconia - October 29, 2013 3:51 pm
    "There's nothing to see here. Move along. Keep moving." -Sargeant Frank Drebin
  27. guirkymondo
    Report Abuse
    guirkymondo - October 29, 2013 3:48 pm
    I certainly hope that Cap Times and WSJ look further into Tea Party Kim Simac's 501(c)(4) funding sources as related to her "political" activities in Wisconsin. And, while they're at it, I hope they look into her Tea Party son James Maillette's activities with the WiFamilyAction group. What a pile of vipers there.
  28. S54k
    Report Abuse
    S54k - October 29, 2013 3:47 pm
    Dode, maybe you didn't see this message a couple of days ago, so here it is again. Like you, I want clean politics no matter what side is in question. I encourage you to send your evidence of the illegal money spent by the democrats to:

    Wisconsin Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 7857
    Madison, WI 53707-7857

    Working together, we can expose not only walker's illegal activities but also any illegal democratic activities that you claim exist. Here's to a totally clean government! Thanks for your help Dode!
  29. markov42
    Report Abuse
    markov42 - October 29, 2013 3:17 pm
    Amazing that so much corruption occurs among the Koch-funded astroturf TeaGOPer groups. Over and over again. State after state. Don't scream foul when your guys get caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
  30. Lucilioness
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    Lucilioness - October 29, 2013 3:07 pm
    High Five^!!
  31. number6
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    number6 - October 29, 2013 2:35 pm
    Did not! Did too! Did not! Too! Not! Too! Man, this gets boring.
  32. happydays
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    happydays - October 29, 2013 2:13 pm
    Have they done any investigations of Soros groups? And what about the Cap TImes - isn't that the Progressive's Daily Newsletter?
  33. Acapitalidea
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    Acapitalidea - October 29, 2013 1:16 pm
    At first you don't succeed ...

    Truth should come out just about election time. Things go better without Koch.
  34. Dode
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    Dode - October 29, 2013 12:50 pm
    So conservative groups do the same as liberal groups, but it is only legal for liberal groups to do what is claimed in this article. What about all those so-called non-profit, non-partisan groups that write for CT always blasting Republicans? That is negative campaigning at its best. Lets see an investigation into them. How many millions did Chissy spend catching a few small minnows last time? They were even handed to him by Gov. Walker. Just think of the poor homeless teachers that could benefit from this waste.
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