Prosecutors feared that publicity about a John Doe probe into the state’s recall elections would taint the evidence they receive by making witnesses “less likely to be entirely candid.”
The argument was made in a court filing from last July that was made public on Wednesday. The redacted document from Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson, one of the DA’s leading the investigation, argues that he believe any public filing regarding the proceedings would “generate substantial publicity,” because the individuals targeted are “well placed.” Nelson says that could result in possible witnesses having advanced warning that investigators could question them, weakening their ability to gather evidence.
The John Doe investigation launched last year is looking into possible illegal coordination between conservative groups and Republican candidates in state recall elections in 2011 and 2012. A federal judge last month ordered a halt to the investigation after the Wisconsin Club for Growth argued it violates their free speech rights. Prosecutors are challenging that decision.
In another filing released Wednesday, prosecutors challenged Judge Rudolph Randa’s ruling that stopped the investigation, arguing it was wrong to declare that targets were aggressively raided at their homes. In his ruling last month, Randa said sheriff’s deputies used bright flood-lights to illuminate the targets’ homes at night — and they took business papers and equipment while “their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.” Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm defended their evidence gathering techniques, arguing that the Club for Growth has not produced witnesses or evidence to back up their claims about strong-armed raids on conservatives’ homes.