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Prosecutors: Wisc. Governor Scott Walker at center of "criminal scheme"

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
Spencer Platt
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Prosecutors believe that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) illegally coordinated spending between 12 conservative groups during recall elections targeting both himself and Republican state senators, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm started the investigation shortly after Walker won his recall election in June 2012.

A judge released 266 pages of previously redacted documents relating to the investigation. Most notably, those documents include a May 4, 2011 email from Walker to Karl Rove, who was involved with the super-PAC American Crossroads, asking him to work with Walker aide R.J. Johnson to coordinate against a recall effort. "Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)," Walker wrote.

The investigation is what's known in Wisconsin as a "John Doe" inquiry, which are overseen by judges and give law enforcement enhanced investigative powers. Marcus Berghahn, a lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin, explains, "It gives law enforcement the power to subpoena witnesses, to take testimony under oath, to offer immunity from prosecution, and to compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses." The Journal-Sentinel has an excellent explainer of the case to date here.

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