The top Republican in the state Senate wants the Department of Justice to reopen its investigation into the leak of documents from a secret John Doe probe.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is also asking the agency to expand the scope of its original investigation to include all activates by staff at the former Government Accountability Board.
In a letter to Attorney General Brad Schimel, Fitzgerald says there’s evidence that staff at the agency were either incompetent or acting criminally during the time period surrounding recall elections in 2011 and 2012. “It is of the utmost importance that we ascertain exactly what the GAB board, leadership, and staff were doing, and when, and what their motivations were,” he argues.
The request follows the release of a report by the DOJ earlier this month that covers the leak of documents from an investigation into Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups that focused on what prosecutors believed at the time may have been illegally coordinating. The state Supreme Court ordered an end to the investigation and no charges were ever filed, but documents from the case were given to The Guardian newspaper.
Schimel’s office was unable to figure out who gave them to a reporter, but determined the most likely source was inside the GAB, which has since been broken up into separate ethics and elections commissions. The DOJ report also revealed the existence of a previously unknown investigation, which was reportedly looking into state employees doing campaign work on state time.
Officials at both new agencies have been critical of the report and have resisted calls for members of their staffs to resign. A spokesman with the Wisconsin Elections Commission declined to comment on Fitzgerald’s request. The administrator of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission did not respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, a spokesman for Schimel said the request to reopen and expand the investigation was not a surprise. “Given the GAB’s mishandling of records and files, defiance of court orders by former GAB employees that was outlined in the John Doe leak investigation report issued earlier this month, and continued ‘on background’ misstatements to the press by former GAB leadership, Senator Fitzgerald’s request comes as no surprise,” said spokesman Johnny Koremenos.
Fitzgerald plans to have the Committee on Senate Organization meet and vote on authorizing an expanded investigation.