The second John Doe probe involving possible campaign shenanigans during Wisconsin's recent recall elections is working its way up the media food chain.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got the ball rolling on Monday with this story by Dan Bice, who tapped a number of unnamed sources to report that Milwaukee County prosecutors have cast a five-county-wide net based on investigations stemming from an earlier John Doe probe. That investigation resulted in criminal convictions against six individuals, three of them former aides to Gov. Scott Walker during his days as Milwaukee County executive. The investigation closed with no charges against Walker.
Despite the clouds cast by that John Doe investigation, so named to keep the target or targets of the probe secret, Walker went on to handily win a recall election in the summer of 2012. Walker's was one of more than a dozen recall efforts stemming from the passage of Act 10, the legislation written by Walker and passed by a Republican legislature ending collective bargaining for nearly all public employees in the state.
"Sources familiar with the probe told the Journal Sentinel that it was scrutinizing a wide variety of state-related issues, including the recall races," Bice writes. "Sources suggested the probe is looking at a current legislative leader and the governor's contest."
As to be expected, the lefties picked right up on the story. Hours after the Journal Sentinel story was published, Daily Kos noted, "This is the type of news that normally dumps out late on Friday, but here it is first thing on Monday... I can't wait to find out more."
Walker, predictably, has been mum. Here's what he was qoted as saying in the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday:
“'I’m not going to get pulled into that, one way or another. Because if somebody was (contacted) and they said they were, they’d be in violation of that,' Walker said, in apparent reference to the secrecy order that commonly accompanies such investigations. 'If they weren’t, they’d be speculating on something that they’re not involved in. So either way, it doesn’t make any sense to get involved with that.'”
That's about where the news stops, and the momentum begins.
For a few days, the story circulated on the leftie blogosphere. Then, on Thusday, Talking Points Memo weighed in with a story detailing the John Doe process, a secret investigation overseen by a judge similar to a federal grand jury.
And on Friday, Forbes' lefty contributer Rick Ungar took Walker's latest ordeal to the website of that staid publication.
Notably absent from the lineup is MSNBC, which is usually on top of the Scott Walker watch. But now that national interest has been piqued, we're likely to see news of the new John Doe probe show up in the coming days in the traditional national media.