An Assembly committee has voted to allow the Department of Justice to proceed with an investigation into who leaked documents from a John Doe investigation to a newspaper.
The documents released by the Guardian U.S. newspaper this fall detailed the investigation into possibly illegal coordination by Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups. The records offered a detailed look at how Walker’s campaign worked with issue advocacy groups, while the governor was facing a recall election in 2012.
Attorney General Brad Schimel has argued the leak violated a secrecy order in the John Doe investigation, and he may convene a grand jury to investigate. The state Supreme Court already rejected his request to appoint a special master to help determine who released the documents. Justice said any investigation should be handled directly by the DOJ.
The Assembly Organization Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to authorize Schimel to launch such an investigation, with all three Democrats on the committee voting against the move.
Democrats have been critical of Schimel, a Republican, for focusing on the leak, while ignoring a previous leak of documents to the Wall Street Journal by conservative activist Eric O’Keefe, one of the targets of the investigation. Schimel this week defended the decision not to investigate that incident, arguing that O’Keefe was not bound by the secrecy order in the case because he is a private citizen. “I can’t prosecute you for violating a court order that was never legal in the first place,” Schimel said.