Legislative leaders in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly have announced they plan to hold a vote later this fall on legislation that would make changes to how John Doe proceedings in the state are conducted.
The bill from Rep. Dave Craig (R-Big Bend) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would end the use of the secret John Doe process to investigate political crimes. The measure comes largely in response to a pair of investigations surrounding Governor Scott Walker – one targeting his office when he was Milwaukee County executive and another that was looking in to potentially illegal coordination between his campaign and conservative groups during the 2012 recall election.
The first John Doe resulted in multiple convictions for former county employees, while the state Supreme Court halted the second probe earlier this summer. Republicans have argued both investigations were politically motivated.
In a joint statement released Friday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said they plan to schedule a vote in October on the reform bill. “We look forward to the final legislative passage of the bill that reaffirms free speech, puts an end to unconstitutional investigations for political purposes, and continues to give investigators the tools needed to solve serious crimes,” the statement read.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) argued the John Doe statutes should be left alone. “Law enforcement officers have used Wisconsin’s current statutes to uncover numerous criminal violations and successfully prosecute political corruption. Rather than trying to cover-up political corruption, Republicans should focus on the issues that matter most to Wisconsin’s working families like strengthening our schools, investing in infrastructure and providing greater financial and retirement security,” Shilling said in a statement.