Dec 20, 2014

State Journal's Dee Halls Blows John Doe-GAB Piece

Wisconsin John Doe Statute
Update: Further knockdown of Wisconsin discredited rightwinger, subject of State Journal stenography. From Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"The attorney for the state's ethics and elections board on Saturday said he will soon file court papers disputing claims that the agency had violated Wisconsin laws in pursing a campaign finance investigation of Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and conservative groups."

The Government Accountability Board will present evidence that 'will refute and disprove specific allegations as well as the general hyperbole of the plaintiff's complaint,' said a statement from the board's attorney, Paul Schwarzenbart."
What is the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) newsroom doing to its reporter Dee Hall?

Hall is typically a solid and occasionally brilliant journalist but errs and misreports badly in today's Page One piece, "GAB didn't OK secret inquiry, records say."

Hall's reporting is uninformed, contrived and is constructed in the manner of a GOP operative's.

In fairness to Hall, uninformed reporting in Wisconsin on the John Doe probes of criminality associated with Scott Walker and his former staff is on a par of the low-grade journalism put out by Gannett Co. and Wisconsin's rightwing propaganda mill, the Wisconsin Reporter and other GOP organs.

The piece reports on the release of Government Accountability Board (GAB) documents, ordered by a Waukesha County judge at the request of rightwinger Eric O'Keefe of the extremist group, Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Writes Hall:
The state Government Accountability Board’s top officials proceeded with a secret probe into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative political groups for months without authorization from the six retired judges who run the board, court records unsealed Friday allege.

The documents filed by a target of the investigation also allege that the board voted to end its involvement in the probe in July but that staff continued to work on it.

The records add ammunition to Republicans in the state Legislature seeking to overhaul or abolish Wisconsin’s elections and ethics watchdog agency.

Some corrections:


There are no targets (ala federal grand juries and many other state grand jury systems) in Wisconsin John Doe proceedings until a probe determines individual(s) are to be criminally charged and served with a probable cause warrant.

Wisconsin John Doe probes investigate if and by whom crimes may have been committed when conflicts of interest, practical difficulties (such as stonewalling) and protection of privacy is judged imperative by a district attorney(s) and a supervising judge, per Wisconsin statute, who determine that reasonable suspicion of criminality merit further investigation in the above circumstances.

For Hall to refer to Mr. O'Keefe as a "target of the investigation" is an error in reporting, and one which furthers the GOP PR line that the John Doe probe is a "witch hunt" though the fact is the John Doe probe that has determined Scott Walker is at the center of a "criminal scheme" is being run by Wisconsin constitutional law enforcement officials who are publicly proclaimed to be Republican and Democratic, and who are sworn officers of the sovereign state of Wisconsin.


In the ninth graf, readers are treated to the knockdown by "David Deininger, the retired appeals court judge who chaired the board during the launching of the John Doe investigation, defended Kennedy and the GAB staff Friday."

"Deininger was skeptical about the assertions made in the complaint. He said he didn’t recall exactly when the board was made aware of the investigation, 'but something of this magnitude would have been brought to our attention at the earliest opening.'"

'They would know this would have been something the board needed to be up to speed on from the get-go,' Deininger said.

He also vouched for Kennedy and Becker, saying impartial administration of election laws was their 'modus operandi.'"

Deininger's quote demolishes Hall's piece and should have killed it.


Hall quotes Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and another Republican without mentioning that Vos and the Republicans have already insisted publicly on direct gubernatorial appointments to the GAB, a partisan power grab of which Hall is certainly aware.

Hall opines "The records add ammunition to Republicans in the state Legislature seeking to overhaul or abolish Wisconsin’s elections and ethics watchdog agency," as though the proposed dismantling of the non-partisan agency has not been part of Republican machinations in the manner of Walker's appointments to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission in 2012, picked by a corporate lobbyist (Millhiser, ThinkProgress).

Tell me Hall could not get a jurist or elected officeholder to describe Vos' nonsense as a power grab on the record. Hall omits what is common knowledge of the GOP's aversion to the GAB or any independent agency that would hold GOP officials to account for criminality and corruption.

There's more, but Hall blew this piece, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin can celebrate the news columns of the Wisconsin State Journal once again.

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