Following the state Supreme Court’s decision to halt a John Doe probe into coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups, a pair of state lawmakers are renewing calls to pass reforms that could stop similar investigations in the future.
Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) says high court made the “right decision” by finding the investigation into a number of conservative groups and the recall campaign of Governor Scott Walker was, “unsupported in either reason or law.” He believes the John Doe investigations into the Governor were strictly for political gain. “Conservatives were targeted by the District Attorney out of Milwaukee County, and there were pre-dawn paramilitary raids that were conducted on their homes, where they seized records and electronic equipment, and they even took people’s pictures and things like that. Now, that’s winded it’s way through the courts and the Supreme Court said the John Doe process should be shut down in this case.”
Tiffany and fellow Republicans introduced legislation earlier this year that keeps the John Doe system, which operates similar to a grand jury, as a tool for prosecutors. However, it would add a number of safeguards, more accountability, and transparency. Tiffany says their bill does that by mirroring the secrecy laws of the Federal Grand Jury.
Tiffany believes a related problem with agencies targeting conservatives is in Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, and its director Kevin Kennedy. “The Wall Street Journal in the past week revealed how Kevin Kennedy with the Government Accountability Board here in Wisconsin has very close ties to Lois Lerner from the IRS, the person in the IRS that was targeting conservative groups nationally, so it appears if there’s any coordination, it’s going on amongst groups like the Government Accountability Board.”
Kennedy made a statement earlier this week claiming he has done nothing wrong, but Tiffany thinks the GAB needs an overhaul. “I believe we need to go back to a different model, perhaps the model that was used a couple decades ago, and find a better way to constitute this so that people’s free speech rights are upheld.”
Tiffany and Rep. Dave Craig, a cosponsor, issued a statement Thursday supporting the changes, and vowing to seek an immediate scheduling of their bills during the fall session. They also vowed to “unearth the motivation behind these investigations.”