Wisconsin Recall Roundup May 29, 2012

Existence of "Bombshell" Emails Revealed in "John Doe" Criminal Probe

Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice revealed the existence of potentially explosive emails uncovered as part of the John Doe criminal investigation of Governor Scott Walker's former staff during the time that he served as Milwaukee County Executive. The paper had previously reported that as part of the wide-ranging secret investigation, the Milwaukee District Attorney was looking into "bid rigging" allegations related to the county's efforts to find private or public office space for its Department on Aging. The paper is now revealing that this aspect of the investigation involves emails between Walker and a long-time campaign advisor that have been described as everything from "legally inconclusive" to "a bombshell." Because of the strict secrecy rules governing the case, the sources refused to release the documents to the newspaper. Anyone divulging information from the John Doe proceedings, which take place in closed court before a single judge, could face criminal charges.

The emails reportedly involve a 2010 exchange between Walker and his longtime campaign treasurer John Hiller. Hiller is a realtor and was reportedly involved in the Department of Aging moves in 2005 and 2010. CMD has previously reported that Hiller has been president of Hiller Realty for over 21 years. He was Scott Walker's campaign treasurer for thirteen of those years. He also led the transition team when Walker became governor. Yet in May of 2011, as news of the John Doe investigation was breaking, Hiller inexplicably left his post as Walker's treasurer.

The Journal Sentinel article concludes that District Attorney John Chisholm is not likely to be filing any additional charges as part of the John Doe probe or closing the investigation before the June 5 recall election. While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has repeatedly called upon Walker to release all emails he turned over as part of the investigation, it is unlikely that the public will see any of these documents before the election. The wide-ranging secret investigation has already netted 15 felony indictments for illegal campaigning on the county payroll, for embezzlement of veterans funds, and child enticement. Learn more here.

Walker Closely Involved with Previous Recall Campaigns

Governor Scott Walker and his supporters say that recalls should be reserved for high crimes and misdemeanors, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has charged that Walker was involved in a 1997 effort to recall U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, due to their pro-choice positions on legislation. New information released by Jud Lounsbury at the blog Uppity Wisconsin suggests that Walker was integrally involved in those recall efforts. According to Lounsbury, Walker was not only a major champion of the pro-life movement in Wisconsin speaking at recall events, but "First Breath Alliance," the group that organized the attempted recalls, gave Walker the money left over from the failed effort. Walker also sang a different tune on recalls when he made this video back in 2010.

Republicans Outspend Democrats in Wisconsin Recall

According to CNN, local and national Republican and conservative groups have spent around $8.65 million on advertisements for the recall election since November. Their advertisements aim to help Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survive the June 5 recall election. In contrast, Democrats and progressive organizations have spent only $5.1 million on advertising in the same period. Kenneth Goldstein, CNN's consultant on TV advertising, predicted that with the ads for the recalls and other big races combined, "Wisconsin is on track to have the largest number of political ads ever aired in a state." New campaign finance numbers will be out today, so these numbers will have to be updated.

Money Coming in to Aid Tom Barrett

The Democratic Governor's Association (DGA) has sent $1 million to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the June 5 recall election. The DGA told CNN that this latest amount would bring their expenditures in Wisconsin to over $3 million. Democrats in Wisconsin put pressure on national Democratic groups like the DGA to step up its efforts against the estimated $4.8 million the Republican Governor's Association (RGA) has spent on behalf of Walker. The DGA money will go to the Greater Wisconsin Committee, an independent expenditure group which has been running ads highlighting the questions surrounding the ongoing John Doe criminal investigation of the Governor's former staff.

Similarly, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will announce today that it has raised $100,000 for the Wisconsin Democratic Party's field operation. The PCCC's Adam Green emails: "When The Plum Line reported that the Democratic National Committee wasn't giving Wisconsin Democrats the resources needed to get out the vote, the PCCC made a strategic decision to do less fundraising for our own Wisconsin TV ads and instead focus our attention on righting the DNC's wrong. We're proud that in the last 9 days, thousands of PCCC members helped us raise $100,000 for Wisconsin Democrats to get out the vote in the final stretch."

The Center for Media and Democracy does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office. Since 1993, CMD has been reporting on corporate spin and government propaganda, exposing public relations tactics, and debunking PR campaigns.


The author listed as "PRwatch Editors" is for reports attributable to CMD's editors or guest authors.