|Scott Walker still hides from Wisconsin and has|
offers no comment on the secret router and
email system used by Walker and his aides
John Doe probes find the guilty and protect the innocent, a dangerous law enforcement mandate for Republicans in Wisconsin politics today.
Law enforcement acting in the John Doe probe found evidence of GOP criminality beyond a reasonable doubt, so predictably Republican flacks want to kill the John Doe statute (the text of the Wisconsin statute is newly and heavily annotated online).
GOP arguments—such as there are—are unsound and uninformed.
Take today's Wisconsin State Journal's Chris Rickert.
But whereas a John Doe can dam up just about any information about who they’re targeting and why, a grand jury offers at least a few opportunities for information to leak out, providing clues into what prosecutors are after. ...John Doe probes do not "target" anyone.
The argument for dumping Doe is simple enough from a health-of-the-democracy perspective. Politicians are adept at misrepresenting their opponents’ positions and spinning news to fit their agendas.
Their charge under law is to investigate if and by whom crimes have been committed when practical difficulties, like stonewalling by Scott Walker that resulted in the first John Doe, and conflicts of interest make law enforcement investigations impractical, and when innocents could be hurt "from the fallout of frivolous prosecutions" (Berghahn) vis a vis John Doe probes.
"The whole purpose of the John Doe is to inquire whether possible criminal activity occurred," said the retired judge (Neal Nettesheim overseeing the first John Doe). "The John Doe served its purpose. It's to resolve uncertainty and to go where the evidence takes you." (Bice and Umhoefer. MJS)
Secrecy is not mandated, but secrecy protects innocents and the investigation, so secrecy codicils are often employed in John Doe probes.
If and only if a criminal charge is brought or evidence points to a charge being likely does someone like Scott Walker aides or appointees—Tim Russell, Kevin Kavanaugh, Darlene Wink, Kelly Rindfleisch for example—find out he or she is a target.
Russell and Kavanaugh embezzled $10,000s from non-profits meant for veterans and their families, so naturally readers won't hear their names often from Republicans.
John Doe probes are not mini-trials, they are law enforcement investigations that may or may not result in prosecutions.
As for the health-of-the-democracy argument, just because Republicans are revealed to be corrupt and charged and convicted of crimes (with no claims of innocence) does not mean the John Doe statute is suddenly "undemocratic."
If Republicans want to make the argument that Tim Russell, Kevin Kavanaugh, Darlene Wink, Kelly Rindfleisch et al., are innocent then by all means, let's examine their presented evidence and hear their arguments.
No such claims of innocence from the first John Doe probe (even from GOP flacks) have been made because against the evidence such claims are ludicrous.
No, Republicans are going after the statute because they know that Scott Walker is dirty and has been for a long time, and they wish to protect Walker.
Being innocent and yet convicted and in prison does not weigh heavily on most Republicans' minds.
Ask Penny Brummer, an innocent women who sits in prison, or Robert Lee Stinson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for whom a wrongfully convicted bill is named, killed by Republicans in the state assembly.
Ask Scott Walker who says he cannot grant pardon because there are too many innocents in Wisconsin prisons, a beyond-belief argument that ought to disqualify Walker from public office.
Walker used the Milwaukee County Executive's office as a campaign machine for governor because he felt is he was entitled; Walker violated public records law because he felt he was entitled; and Walker won't talk to the press now because he knows as well that he is neck-deep in uncharged crimes.
Now, I am no attorney but I'm thinking what just about every non-Republican jurist is thinking: Scott Walker should have been charged at a minimum with Misconduct in Public Office (Wisconsin Statute 946.12), but some people like Scott Walker and Republicans are more equal than others.
Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, who was leading the first John Doe investigation, knows this, and backed away from charging Walker last year because he was afraid of the fall-out.