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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Criminalizing Politics

For John, BLUFPolitics can be ugly.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

William A. Jacobson, Esq, of the Blog Legal Insurrection writes "Exposed:  How Prosecutors targeted Scott Walker and conservatives"

This is about the ongoing "John Doe" imbroglio in Wisconsin.  Democrat Prosecutors (working with a Democrat Judge) went after Governor Scott Walker and those who supported him.

We have written many times about the secretive John Doe proceedings in which Wisconsin prosecutors seized a wide-range of records from numerous conservative activists on the theory that it was a crime for such activists to coordinate issue advocacy with the campaign of Governor Scott Walker.

In a federal lawsuit brought by two of the targets, Eric O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth (the “Club”), a federal district court judge enjoined the John Doe investigation finding, among other things, that the investigation violated the targets’ constitutional free speech rights.  The court also found that the prosecutors advanced an invalid theory of criminal liability, since such coordination did not violate campaign finance laws.  A state court judge earlier had made a similar finding.

The John Doe investigators, who are defendants in the federal lawsuit, have appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Of course they have.  Otherwise they are no better than Mass Attorney General Martha Coakley going against Tim Cahill.

From the Summary of Argument:

In February 2012, at the outset of a tough reelection campaign and battle for control of Congress, President Barack Obama’s official campaign committee threw its support behind Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” supporting Democratic candidates. “[T]op campaign staff and even some Cabinet members [would] appear at super PAC events,” and they helped Priorities USA Action raise millions that it spent in support of Democratic candidates.

Defendants launched and aggressively pursued a secret criminal investigation targeting every major right-of-center advocacy group in Wisconsin on the view that this kind of “coordination” between a candidate and supporters of his policies is illegal. They also claim the power to restrict speech on public policy issues based on an advocacy group’s communications with a candidate, whether or not that speech has anything to do with that candidate’s own campaign or election.

In short, Defendants claim a carte blanche to target more or less every person or group that has ever participated in Wisconsin political or policy debates, to raid their homes, seize their records and personal effects, subpoena their emails and phone records, and threaten them with prosecution - all things that Defendants actually did in this case – merely for speaking out on the issues. It would be difficult to conceive a more offensive disregard for the First Amendment rights of citizens to advocate and associate with others to advance their beliefs through the political process, the very lifeblood of representative democracy.

Defendants did not adopt this indefensible legal position out of some misplaced zeal to enforce Wisconsin campaign-finance law. The facts show that it was a pretext, contrived to support the latest phase of a years-long crusade against Governor Scott Walker, his associates, and now his philosophical allies. What began four years ago as a routine investigation into missing charitable funds immediately morphed into a pursuit of all-things-Walker, as Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his accomplices repeatedly expanded their investigation to pursue new angles and new targets.

This whole process is despicable.  But, don't be fooled into thinking this is about evil Democrats going after Republicans.  Given the desire to win on the part of most humans, this could also be evil Republicans going after Democrats.  And, it could be somewhat intra-party, as in the aforementioned case of A/G Martha Coakley going after Gubernatorial Candidate Tim Cahill.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Cindy Krieger said...

Sometimes comments made in an offline forum: the actual presence of a group of people with no video or audio capture other than in the minds of the participants, i.e., old tech communication skills; is a very good thing. Having every thing you say and think accessible to the world through the internet just leaves you open to more criticism.