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A federal court of appeals has stayed a federal judge's order to throw out the John Doe investigation into possible collaboration between political campaigns and so-called issue advocacy groups.

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The stories that some of the state's right-wingers were spreading about the atrocious way law enforcement officers treated Scott Walker aide Cindy Archer when they raided her home in search of evidence for the first John Doe probe are starting to fall apart.

Archer and her dark-money pal Eric O'Keefe, the man behind the infamous Wisconsin Club for Growth, convinced everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the National Review opinionators and even Wisconsin's four conservative Supreme Court justices that Archer was severely mistreated and her rights were violated by mean-spirited officers who acted like thugs, complete with battering rams, as they rushed into her home in an early morning raid in 2011. 

The agents have been compared to the old Soviet KGB, and many conservative bloggers expressed horror that such a thing could happen in America. Of course, it happens all the time in poor urban neighborhoods, but that never draws a peep from these critics.

Because the cops were under strict secrecy rules, no one could dispute the lurid accounts. 

But, ironically, Archer has unwittingly opened a can of worms that doesn't make her or her former boss, Scott Walker, look good.

Apparently no one suspected there might be a tape of the Archer raid. So when Archer sued DA John Chisholm's office for violating her rights, Judge Neal Nettesheim ordered the tape be made public for the investigators' own defense. Later, he also ordered the release of a request for a search warrant that outlined the investigators' suspicion that County Executive Scott Walker had committed a felony in a county real estate deal involving a campaign contributor.

The tape reveals that the raid was anything but a smash-and-grab event. Instead, Aaron Weiss, one of the DA's investigators, reads the entire warrant to Archer (she claimed he threw it at her), tells her of her right to an attorney (she claimed he didn't), and offers to let her go outside for a cup of coffee and a cigarette (she claimed he refused to allow it).

Interestingly, Walker claims the release of the search warrant request was "politically motivated," forgetting, of course, that it wouldn't have been released had Archer not sued the DA.

The warrant request also shows that it was made long before Walker dumped his Act 10 surprise on Wisconsin, refuting another contention of the right-wing cabal: that the entire John Doe was a "political witch hunt" launched to punish Walker for his attack on public employee unions.

Meanwhile, another complaint of law enforcement misconduct involving the John Doe was revived this week on right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes' show in Milwaukee. Walker political consultant Deborah Jordahl claims Dane County deputies were over the top when they showed up at her home at 6 a.m. in search of evidence, confiscating computers and paper records. 

No word if Dane County has a recording of that raid. All we know is that the deeper we get into this sordid affair, the worse it smells.  

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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