Walker Documents Strengthen Case for Campaign Finance Reform

Walker Documents Strengthen Case for Campaign Finance Reform

New evidence of coordination between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and groups supporting him strengthens case for campaign finance reform.

While the “John Doe” investigation of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been halted by a federal judge,  court documents released Thursday provide evidence that Walker has violated state campaign finance laws and during 2011 and ’12 was actively coordinating his campaigns in recall elections with the work of ostensibly independent groups that supported him.  

The documents suggest that Walker’s campaign committee and the Wisconsin Club for Growth were working together behind the scenes as Walker and members of the state senate faced recall elections. At the center of what prosecutors have characterized as a “criminal scheme” is Republican political operative R.J. Johnson, who served as a consultant to both Wisconsin Club for Growth and Gov. Walker’s campaign.

The documents include an email from Walker to Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s political guru and co-founder of the Republican-aligned American Crossroads Super PAC, in which the governor praised Johnson for his “wildly successful” team in Wisconsin.

Also in the trove are papers indicating that many pro-Walker groups had flagged and/or were fully aware of the illegal coordination happening in Wisconsin. In one, prosecutors state that Friends of Scott Walker, Citizens for a Strong America (CFSA), Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and Wisconsin Club for Growth “appear to have tacitly admitted to violating Wisconsin law.” There’s also evidence that the national Club for Growth organization had “raised concerns” about coordination between Walker’s campaign committee and Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Running this year for a second term, Walker has dismissed the investigation as partisan,  saying “no charges, case over.” Meanwhile, prosecutors are appealing a federal judge’s order that they close down the investigation.  

Even if it doesn’t produce charges or convictions, the Walker probe has strengthened the case for campaign finance reform. If elected officials are not adhering to the campaign laws they’ve made for themselves, the integrity of our democratic processes and the workings of our government will continue to be threatened.