Will Scott Walker sell out his conservative allies?

Disturbing news from Wisconsin, where Scott Walker, a conservative hero who took on the public employee unions and won, is reported to be considering a deal that would undercut his conservative allies in a case of outrageous prosecutorial abuse.

William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection explains the issue leading to the potential sellout:

The short story is that Wisconsin investigators using secret “John Doe” state processes have been targeting conservatives in Wisconsin under the factually and legally frivolous theory that they illegally coordinated with Scott Walker’s campaign.

After certain of the targets sued in federal court alleging a violation of their constitutional rights, a federal judge sided with the targets and issued an injunction barring further investigation and ordering return of evidence seized.  The investigators are in a judicial head lock.

The civil suit against the investigators — who are local prosecutors by day — continues into the discovery phase. Money damages and other relief are in play, and the hunters have become the hunted.

Here are some prior posts:

Now comes a disturbing report in The Wall Street Journal that Scott Walker might cut a deal letting the investigators out, Scott Walker’s Friends:

Wisconsin prosecutors have suffered a series of stunning legal defeats in recent months as they pursue a secret investigation of the conservative groups that helped Governor Scott Walker get elected. Those cases are shaping up as a major policy victory for free speech and political debate—unless a last-minute settlement rescues the prosecutors.

We’ve learned that Steven Biskupic, who represents Friends of Scott Walker, has been negotiating with Wisconsin special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to settle the state’s investigation. The understandable concern among the direct targets of the John Doe is that Mr. Biskupic will cut a deal that would exonerate Mr. Walker while wresting concessions from some of Mr. Walker’s allies….


This legal progress makes the prospect of a premature Walker settlement all the more puzzling. Mr. Walker is facing a rough re-election fight this year, and perhaps he and his lawyers want to remove any chance of a September or October legal surprise.

Yet based on the evidence and legal judgments we’ve seen, the prosecutors should be on the defensive, not Mr. Walker. Judge Peterson clearly sees no evidence of any crime. The federal lawsuit that triggered Judge Randa’s preliminary injunction names the prosecutors in their personal and professional capacities, so they’re the ones who may need a face-saving legal exit.

Mr. Walker might think he can help himself with a settlement, but he’d be letting down his allies if he did so in a way that lets the bogus theory of illegal coordination survive. Wisconsin has an especially pernicious regulatory machine that targets political speech, and the legal backlash to the John Doe probe offers a rare chance to dismantle it. Mr. Walker is a hero to many for his fight against public unions, but he will tarnish that image if he sells out the cause for some short-term re-election reassurance….

On Tuesday a very clipped Mr. Biskupic told us that he was “not going to comment on anything related to any John Doe in Wisconsin because doing so would be a violation of court orders.” But after he hung up with us he warned other friends of Scott Walker about our call. Sounds like Mr. Walker has to decide whose side he’s on—his own, or the larger principles he claims to represent.

Walker has been on my short list of promising 2016 presidential candidates, but if he does indeed opt to cut a deal that protects him but lets the prosecutors off hook and hangs out his conservative supporters to dry, he will go onto another list, also starting with an s.  And I am dead certain that a large part of the conservative base will agree that when the other side abuses prosecutorial powers (ask Tom Delay about this), any chance to hold them accountable must be followed through on.

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