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New Scott Walker Allegations Have Little Legal Merit, But Could Affect Re-Election Bid

2013 Conservative Political Action Conference

Late on Thursday, the Wisconsin political world, and by some extension the national political world was rocked by allegations contained in a report released by prosecutors in Wisconsin that, according to some interpretations at least, purported to allege that Governor Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to violate campaign finance laws:

CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.

The allegations by five county district attorneys, released as part of a federal lawsuit over the investigation into Mr. Walker, suggest that some of the governor’s top campaign aides directed the political spending of the outside groups, most of them nonprofits, and in effect controlled some of them.

The documents made public on Thursday threatened to cloud the political prospects of Mr. Walker, who is seeking election to a second term this fall and is mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016. They provided a rare view of the inner workings of a far-flung network of conservative nonprofit groups that have come to play a decisive role in national and state elections, secretly moving hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns by avoiding traditional political action committees, which typically face tougher disclosure requirements.

Prosecutors say Mr. Walker and his aides violated Wisconsin donation limits and disclosure rules by supervising a blitz of political spending by other organizations that could accept unlimited secret donations, including money from corporations.

Some of the groups, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, appear to serve as little more than conduits to funnel money from donors around the country to an array of allied organizations with ties to specific constituencies, such as gun owners or abortion opponents. Prosecutors say that the groups in Wisconsin worked closely with Mr. Walker’s allies both in the state and in Washington, and that Mr. Walker’s campaign consultants advised him on political strategy and television advertising while also raising money and directing the activities of an array of at least a dozen outside groups.

“That coordination included a nationwide effort to raise undisclosed funds for an organization which then funded the activities of other organizations supporting or opposing candidates subject to recall,” the prosecutors wrote.

While the newly released documents describe “a wide-ranging scheme to coordinate activities of several organizations with various candidate committees to thwart attempts to recall Wisconsin Senate and gubernatorial candidates,” no criminal charges have been brought, and the case has stirred an intense legal debate over what exactly constitutes illegal coordination in such cases.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel posted additional details:

Madison — Prosecutors allege Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and those of Republican state senators facing recall elections during 2011 and 2012, according to documents unsealed Thursday.

In the documents, prosecutors laid out what they call an extensive “criminal scheme” to bypass state election laws by Walker, his campaign and two top Republican political operatives — R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl. No one has been charged, but this marks the prosecutors’ most detailed account of the investigation yet.

The governor and his close confidants helped raise money and control spending through 12 conservative groups during the recall election campaigns, according to the prosecutors’ filings.

The documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush, that Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson also is Walker’s longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a prominent conservative group.

“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 to Rove on May 4, 2011. Rove runs American Crossroads, which backs Republican congressional and presidential candidates.

Beginning in March 2011, there were “open and express discussions” of the need to coordinate the activities of entities like Americans for Prosperity, Wisconsin Club for Growth, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Republican State Leadership Committee and the Republican Governors Association, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz wrote. Conference calls were held between the Walker campaign, the governors association and the business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, he wrote.

The scope of the criminal scheme under investigation “is expansive,” Schmitz wrote. “It includes criminal violations of multiple elections laws, including violations of Filing a False Campaign Report or Statement and Conspiracy to File a False Campaign Report or Statement.”

Walker, who is running for re-election and is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, responded Thursday by criticizing the case that prosecutors were trying to build.

“You’ve got two judges, both a state judge and a federal judge, who said that they didn’t buy into the argument that has been presented at this point,” Walker said, speaking to reporters after presenting awards at the Water Council’s summit in Milwaukee. “I think their words speak pretty strongly both at the federal and state level.”

Not surprisingly, the political left has jumped all over this story as if it were definitive evidence that Walker was at the center of a criminal conspiracy, a reaction which is entirely unsurprising. Walker has been a political target on the left since virtually the day he took office and, with the help of a Republican controlled legislature made changes to the collective bargaining rules for public employees. Those changes resulted in everything from the Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate fleeing Madison for refuge somewhere across the border in Illinois in an effort to prevent the Senate from conducting business, to protests that resulted in a sit-in at the State Capitol that lasted for weeks, to recall elections directed at Walker, his Lt. Governor, and several members of the Wisconsin State Senate. In the end, these efforts proved to be unsuccessful. The changes to the law were passed, the legal challenges to those changes were defeated, and Walker won his Recall Election with a more votes than he had received when he ran for Governor originally in 2010. On the right, of course, Walker became something of a political hero both because of the changes he was enacting and the fact that he had become such a target for the left. Although Walker has not spoken directly on the matter, his name has been mentioned frequently as a potential candidate for President in 2016, assuming of course that he wins re-election in November.

While the allegations that this latest document release make against Walker and those around him sound serious, it also seems clear that, at least at the moment, the idea that the Governor is any serious legal jeopardy has little of any merit. The one fact that both the Times and the Journal-Sentinel gloss over in their reports, and which has gone largely unmentioned in the mass media reports on this document dump, for example, is that a Federal Judge shut down the criminal investigation against Walker and the others involved here because it was legally frivolous. That initial order was blocked by a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Judge in question, Federal District Judge Rudolph Randa, issued a new opinion several days later:

Randa issued a seven-page decision Thursday saying the prosectors’ earlier appeal was just that — he called one argument they made the “height of frivolousness.” His decision also reissued his injunction.

Now, the appeals panel must decide whether to dismiss the case or keep it alive.

Meanwhile, the two sides disagree on whether lawyers may begin deposing witnesses.

“We’re very much looking forward to discovery, which begins immediately,” said Rivkin, who presents Wisconsin Club for Growth.

While deposing witnesses and gathering evidence, Rivkin said his team of attorneys will be looking at whether the prosecutors involved in the five-county investigation engaged in any partisan activity or consulted with political figures.

The plaintiffs will also be focused, Rivkin said, on determining the source for leaks in the probe.

“We’re not going after the media,” he said. “We’re going after the leakers.”

But Crocker, Schmitz’s lawyer, suggested that Rivkin is jumping the gun, particularly in light of the most recent order.

“However, Fran Schmitz has no reservations about providing his testimony at the appropriate time and he looks forward to addressing the false allegations that continue to be made in this litigation,” Crocker said in an email.

Randa’s first injunction told prosecutors to return material they had seized from conservative groups and destroy their copies of it. The appeals court found he couldn’t issue such an irreversible order in the early stages of the case, and Randa’s latest order does not include that provision.

Rivkin, the attorney for the Wisconsin Club for Growth, said he will seek monetary damages from prosecutors for violating the group’s constitutional rights. Randa wrote in Thursday’s order he would not consider such a request while the appeal is pending, so that issue will be put off at least for now.

Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a former member of the Federal Election Commission, supports Randa’s decisions. He said he believes the Wisconsin Club for Growth would be able to recover attorneys fees but not the damages they are seeking.

To do that, they would have to prove prosecutors intentionally acted maliciously, he said.

“That is a very high bar,” he said.

 You can read Judge Randa’s May 6th Order and May 8th Order on Scribd, where I have posted them.

In addition to the rulings at the Federal Court level, a State Court Judge also issued a ruling in January quashing subpoenas that had been issued to conservative political groups and others in connection with the investigation. Additionally, most legal observers have commented that it seems unlikely that anything that Walker or his associates is alleged to have done in the latest set of documents, even if taken in the worst possible light, actually violate Federal or State law. Indeed, the argument that this investigation has been, from the beginning, little more than an attempt at partisan mudslinging leading up to a third election for Wisconsin Governor inside of three years was at the heart of the argument made to Judge Randa, and ultimately a large part of the reason that he halted the investigation. While that decision is on appeal an could theoretically be revered, the fact that it is rare for a Judge at any level to shutdown prosecutors in this manner makes the fact that Randa, who has served as a Federal District Court Judge since 1992, did so here is a strong indication that the arguments of the moving parties were persuasive and may be difficult to overturn on appeal. So, any suggestion that Walker is in legal jeopardy here, or even that he did anything illegal, seems to be pretty much without merit.

That being said, the fact that this story may not have much legal impact doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Wisconsin is among the top targets of the Democratic Governor’s Association this year and this is only likely to make them more interested in spending money to help Democratic nominee Mary Burke. The latest polls show the race to be essentially a dead heat, with the most recent poll from Marquette University, conducted more than a month ago now, showing Walker with a 3 point lead in a poll with a 3.5 point margin of error. The RealClearPolitics Average, meanwhile, has Walker with a 2.0 point lead and an average of about 6.6 percent of those polled in the undecided camp. In other words, as the moment at least, this race could go either way.

As a general rule, I would suggest that people looking at this race be careful not to underestimate Scott Walker. Notwithstanding the fact that pre-election polling had him in the lead, there were many observers who doubt that he would be able to pull out a win in the 2010 election that put him in office, for example. Similarly, when Walker faced a recall election in 2012, there were many of his political enemies who thought that they would be able to unseat him even when polling was showing him leading quite comfortably. In the end, Walker ended up winning that recall election with 1.3 million votes, which was more than the 1.1. million votes he received in the General Election in 2010.  Given that history, and the fact that we are clearly heading into yet another midterm election where Republicans are likely to be favored, I would suggest that the smart money should be on Walker winning in November notwithstanding the efforts of his political enemies to defeat him on the third try.

That being said, this new report is likely to become part of the campaign against Walker by Burke and her surrogates and supporters. So, we will have to wait and see if it has any impact on the race. Given the fact that many of these allegations are old, and that Walker doesn’t seem to have done anything illegal, though, my bet would be that the impact of this report is going to end up being quite minimal. If that turns out to be the case and Walker is re-elected, then I suspect that we will see his stock rise very high very quickly in the GOP as Republicans search for a candidate.

Photo via The Huffington Post

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. wr says:

    I wonder how much water Randa is willing to carry for Walker and the Koch’s. There is a ton of evidence here showing a massive criminal conspiracy, and all he can say is that it’s “frivolous” — as he continues to take goodies from Koch-sponsored organizations. At some point simply the appearance of corruption is going to be too much for him…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  2. Yes because any Judge who issues a ruling that doesn’t fit into your neat little ideological cubbyhole is obviously corrupt, right?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 26

  3. wr says:

    Because this judge has taken vacations of great value from organizations whose money comes from the same place shoveling cash at Walker — which those involved went to great effort to hide.

    Perhaps your law education never covered the idea of “apparent conflict of interest.” You should look it up. This judge had a massive conflict and refused to recuse himself.

    So yes, this man is either corrupt or indifferent to the appearance of corruption. That’s not my “neat little ideological cubbyhole.” That’s the law. Look it up.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 8

  4. Please provide the legal support for the argument that his rulings were wrong.

    And you do realize it’s being appealed right?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 13

  5. Doug in Madison says:

    Quick quiz: How often in the news do you read about a Judge ordering that an investigation be halted? I read a lot of news from a lot of sources, and a Judge ordering an investigation shelved is, shall we say, uncommon.

    Judge Rudolph Randa is a political operative with deeply entrenched right-wing sympathies. His rulings on political matters are predictable and political. His rulings are not intended to be fair, but to promote a political perspective. An article that doesn’t note that is rather useless, rather like analyzing Antonin Scalia without grasping the notion that you’re dealing with a right-wing ideologue — someone who’s uncompromising and dogmatic.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 5

  6. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Please provide the legal support for the argument that his rulings were wrong”

    Sure thing, Doug. You go right ahead and ignore the obvious evidence of corruption. Just pay it no mind. As long as this guy is on your team, and as long as he’s helping to ensure that only rich people’s voices are heard in elections, why would you care if he’s a crook? I mean, it’s the free market in action — you get as much “justice” as you can buy! A libertarian dream, to be sure.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 10

  7. John Cole says:

    Walker has been a political target on the left since virtually the day he took office

    That’s one way of putting it. Another would be that he took office and declared war on the left, because that’s what actually happened.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 7

  8. Dave D says:

    In the mid-’90s, Randa threw out a federal law authored by U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, that protected access to abortion clinics, a position that ran counter to other federal rulings. Randa’s decision was reversed on appeal, with the U.S. Supreme Court later upholding the law.

    On occasion, Randa has brought up issues with defendants that have little to do directly with their cases.

    For instance, in 2007, Randa referred repeatedly to a drug dealer’s Mexican heritage, saying “you people” and “those people,” during sentencing. The judge also discounted the defendant’s claim of being a good family man, saying “even Adolf Hitler was admired by his family. Adolf Hitler loved his dog. Yet he killed 6 million Jews.”

    The Chicago-based appeals court returned the case to another judge and ordered a new sentence. Appeals Court Judge Diane Wood wrote that Randa’s comments were “utterly out of bounds.”

    Also in 2007, Randa ordered convicted state purchasing official Georgia Thompson to be jailed while she appealed her conviction for steering a travel contract to a company to supporters of then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. The appeals court tossed Thompson’s conviction, calling the evidence “beyond thin,” and ordered her to be freed immediately.

    This year, Randa was overturned for forcing a prisoner to wear prison garb in front of the jury during his civil rights case against Langlade County jail guards. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner wrote that forcing someone to wear prisoner clothing in front of a jury is “highly prejudicial.”

    Randa also has come under attack for issuing a favorable ruling for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in its bankruptcy case without disclosing a possible conflict of interest. That decision has not yet been appealed.

    Some lawyers believe Randa has become more ideological in recent years, suggesting that Appeals Court Judge Terence Evans, a high school classmate, had a moderating effect on Randa before Evans’ death in 2011.

    But Jennaro, the former judge, disagrees: “I don’t think he’s changed.”

    Yeah he seems extremely impartial also with his seat on the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society. It isn’t like he has a clear ideology or anything that the courts were supposed to be free from, but hey it’s whatever.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  9. Stan says:

    Justice Kennedy said that contributors could not coordinate with political candidates, and therefore the type of contributions the Supreme Court allowed “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” The prosecutors are charging that Walker did in fact coordinate with the contributors. Are they wrong? Or does it matter? If it doesn’t, why did Kennedy include the phrase about politicians coordinating with contributors in his decision?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  10. Dave D says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well at least one part of the ruling lacked legality when he told prosecutors to destroy evidence they had already gathered.

    Judge Randa sided with O’Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.

    The rest of that article does a good job of tracking down his publically disclosed gifts from right wing groups. Is there any wonder why he got the case? And does the stink of corruption and ideological blinding not bother you in this case? How often do judges normally order evidence to be destroyed?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  11. @Stan:

    Federal Election laws generally do not apply to state elections

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  12. @Dave D:

    By your logic every Federal Judge who is a member of the ACLU should also recuse themselves from any case involving civil liberties issues

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

  13. David in KC says:

    I don’t have time to dig through this in detail, but a quick perusal of the statutes and what the allegations are would indicate that, if true, there are violations of Wisconsins election laws. http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/11/24

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  14. Stan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Are you saying that Wisconsin laws do allow coordination of contributions by politicians? If you’re right, Wisconsin’s changed a lot since I lived there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  15. @Stan:

    I am saying that the legal analysis I’ve read on this leads to the conclusion that the allegations even if true, do not rise to a violation of the laws in question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10

  16. Richard Kane says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, here is the prosecutors’s motion to the Appellate Court seeking additional stay to Judge Randa’s argument and why they think his decision was “unprecedented.” http://www.scribd.com/doc/224423370/Seventh-Circuit-Motion-to-Stay-on-the-John-Doe.

    The essential argument of the case is that O’Keefe, Wisconsin Club of Growth, etc., were engaging in protected 1st Amendment Activity and had the right to seek injunctive relief from the District Court. The 7th Circuit did find that those appeals were “frivolous” that questioned that right. However, the substantive decision made by Judge Randa is still being argued on appeal before the 7th Circuit. http://watchdog.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2014/06/John-Doe-appeal-denied.pdf

    Given the recent decisions by the Supreme Court in Citizens United and McCutcheon, I expect that even if Walker and Wisconsin Club of Growth broke Wisconsin laws, those laws would be interpreted to be unconstitutional by the Roberts’ court. http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/mccutcheon-v-federal-election-commission/ The “appearance of corruption” standard is kind of funny since Walker and his legislature are busy passing laws like this to benefit their wealthy supporters. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/02/22/a-secret-deal-between-gov-walker-and-koch-brothers-buried-in-state-budget/ But unless someone says something stupid on a tape recording, I think it is all legal in 21st Century America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  17. Another Mike says:

    My understanding is that the judge found that the investigation was unconstitutional. It was an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment rights. The intent was simply to shut down conservative political speech. The “evidence” that was obtained was obtained unconstitutionally. There was never any probable cause that any criminal act was committed. The hope was that if enough stones were overturned, maybe something would turn up. It’s like the cops coming into your house and searching it from top to bottom and taking all your records with the hope that they can find something to charge you with. That is a totally frivolous legal action and blatantly unconstitutional. All of us, liberals and conservatives, should be glad that this was shut down.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 17

  18. Dave D says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Where are conservative values enshrined in the constitution? Because I’m fairly certain that civil liberties are a major sticking point early in that document. Or is wanting to protect the civil liberties of Americans an ideological agenda to you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    By your logic every Federal Judge who is a member of the ACLU should also recuse themselves from any case involving civil liberties issues

    Well, duh. Of course they should. Do you think otherwise?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Another Mike:

    It’s like the cops coming into your house and searching it from top to bottom and taking all your records with the hope that they can find something to charge you with.

    Well, except for the fact that your case would be an illegal search and seizure, and the investigation in question is not. But please, feel free to propose a different spurious analogy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  21. Robert Levine says:

    There are two separate issues involved in the allegations. The first is whether Walker violated state law, and the second is whether the state law on the subject is constitutional.

    Randa is hardly the ideal judge to be dealing with either issue. He has been rebuked by the 7th Circuit repeatedly, as was mentioned by Dave D above – and the 7th Circuit is not a liberal court. He was rebuked in this case when the appeals court immediately overturned his order to destroy the evidence – a very unusual order, it appears. It’s also worth noting that his judicial assistant, Cary Biskupic, is married to a lawyer for the Walker campaign. Randa certainly does not seem to care about appearing to be impartial.

    The special prosecutor in this case, Francis Schmitz, is a former Army officer who was on George W. Bush’s short list to become US Attorney for Milwaukee – not a likely candidate to be leading a politically motivated wild goose chase against a Republican governor.

    None of that makes Randa wrong and Schmitz right. But that’s how I’d bet, especially given Walker’s rather Nixonian history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  22. Xenos says:

    That initial order was blocked by a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Judge in question, Federal District Judge Rudolph Randa, issued a new opinion several days later:

    This needs some sort of explanation or context. A new opinion is not relevant to the issue appealed unless some sort of ruling came down from the appeals court. Unless Randa is reissuing opinions on issues where the appeals court currently has jurisdiction, which would certainly be more remarkable than the substance of the opinion.

    So either the opinion is irrelevant, or Randa is completely off the reservation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. Xenos says:

    @Doug Mataconis:Have you extended your readings on this issue to the history of campaign spending regulation to the state in question? I think there is a lot more to this issue than one reads in typically breezy declarations on right-wing legal blogs. I have not found anything that gives a careful analysis to the federalism implications to this trend.

    Anything you could link to in this regard?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. C. Clavin says:

    It’s fascinating what Doug finds to be unlawful and important…depending on whether it’s his team or the other team.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Doug, you are obviously unaware of the underlying rule that connects this story with the IRS mess.

    Republicans are always wrong.

    Which means that since there are Republicans saying that there is something seriously fishy with the IRS, then the IRS is completely innocent.

    And since Walker is a Republican who says he broke no laws, he’s obviously a major criminal who needs to be locked up.

    This investigation goes way, way beyond a fishing expedition. It’s actually like Lerner’s sending those 21 discs of IRS files — including some very confidential information — the the FBI so they could go digging for some signs of violations of the law. This investigation started with the GOAL of taking down Walker, and no specific allegations in mind.

    The Federalist has a good run-down on the matter, if anyone’s interested in an alternative look at this mess. Here’s one good quote:

    Upon the unsealing of some of the probe documents by the federal appeals court, the media worked itself into a frenzy claiming that Walker was part of a criminal conspiracy. The media claim was based entirely on the subpoena document that was denied by the state judge as failing utterly to demonstrate probable cause to believe a crime occurred. In short: the judge, looking at all the evidence, found no reason to believe that a crime had occurred. That has not stopped the media from falsely implying otherwise.

    (Emphasis added)

    And considering just how the completely partisan recall attempt at Walker played out, one would wonder why the left would want to keep reminding people of that. Anyone else remember the anti-Walker nuts occupying the State House and trashing the place? Public educators skipping work illegally to protest? Doctors handing out fraudulent work-excuse notes?

    Most people understand the concept of “throwing good money after bad,” but since the left is used to spending other people’s money, maybe it doesn’t have the same meaning to them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  26. C. Clavin says:

    Which means that since there are Republicans saying that there is something seriously fishy with the IRS, then the IRS is completely innocent.

    Except Republicans have been investigating the IRS for over a year and have failed to find anything. There’s no there there. You say it’s worse than Watergate … But how can nothing be worse than something? It’s hard to prosecute delusions.
    If your opinion is based on nonsense then your opinion is nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: It wouldn’t have taken a year if the IRS hadn’t stonewalled and prevaricated and evaded and stalled. As noted, the IRS discovered that — oops! — a bunch of the e-mails Congress asked for a while ago had been “lost,” but sat on that information for about six weeks.

    I realize that your idiotic, blind partisanship requires you to reward stalling and blame the people being stalled, but you really should stop expecting others to embrace your stupidity. Just because you have convinced yourself that your own bullshit is true doesn’t obligate anyone else to indulge your delusions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Besides, Cliffy, the Wisconsin recall effort was several years ago. This “investigation” has failed to even establish that a crime was committed. Doesn’t that mean that they should just admit it was all a partisan witch-hunt and give it up?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  29. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Oh, and Cliffy? In that recall, Walker raised about $7.6 million to fight off recall. The public sector unions raised about $17.6 million to recall him. Have there been any investigations into how that money was raised? How it was spent? What kind of possibly illegal coordination might have gone on?

    One final point, Cliffy: your side raised well over twice the amount of money as the Walker side did. You pulled together over $10 million MORE than your enemies, and you still lost, and lost big. You really are really pathetic losers, aren’t you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

  30. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “You really are really pathetic losers, aren’t you?”

    And here Jenos is finally commenting on a subject where he’s an expert. We should all listen when Jenos talks about being a pathetic loser — who knows more about that than him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  31. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    One final point, Cliffy: your side raised well over twice the amount of money as the Walker side did.

    You do understand how Walker coordinating with several outside groups with no reporting requirements rather neutralizes this don’t you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  32. Raoul says:

    DM- what about an article on Judge Randa (decisions and contacts, including wife)? Who knows, the story may even be picked up. You have a good start here in the comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. Robert Levine says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Not true. Walker raised $37.4 million, compared to Barrett’s $6.6, due in large part to a quirk in state law:

    The governor raised and spent more than three times as much in the recall election than he had in the record-breaking 2010 governor’s race. Walker was able to accept immense special interest contributions above the annual $10,000 calendar year limit on individual donations because state law allows recall targets to collect unlimited contributions until a recall election is scheduled.

    Both figures and quote here.

    Total spending (including outside groups) was $58.7 million by Walker and $21.9 million by Barrett.
    Link here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  34. Modulo Myself says:

    The (Wisconsin Club for Growth and its treasurer) have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ‘ingrained in our culture,'” Randa wrote, quoting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

    As I read this, the judge basically admits that the law was broken, but that’s fine, because circumventing laws (regarding money, by white people) is fantastic. Calling the investigation partisan buries the big lead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  35. Robert Levine says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Anyone else remember the anti-Walker nuts occupying the State House and trashing the place?”

    The Walker administration estimated $7.5 million in damages done by the demonstrators. When they hired an “historical preservation architect” to do a professional study, the figure was reduced to $270,000:

    In his six-page report, Quagliana said that the massive crowds had essentially accelerated normal wear and tear on the building through unintended damage such as nicks and chips to stone as well as stains to stone from the skin oils from brushing hands, residues from tape used to hang signs, and a few isolated marker stains. The Capitol lawn and a few shrubs also need work after being trod on by the massive crowds.

    On the other hand, the right of the people to peaceably assemble has been trashed repeatedly by the Walker admininstration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  36. Another Mike says:

    @Robert Levine: Yes, $270,000 is almost pocket change. The architect said it was just accelerated normal wear and tear, so in 10, 15, or 20 years the state would have had to spend the money anyway, and due to inflation it would have been more than just $270,000. As the link notes, people should never have to pay a fee, or obtain a permit, or shell out money just to exercise a constitutionally protected right. I have to admit though that the picture of the fat guy zonked out on the capitol floor is priceless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    File charges…or admit you are delusional.
    Scooter got busted on obstruction of justice.
    Do the same or admit you got nuthin’ and STFU.
    Oh wait….3 nonsensical responses to my one comment…I guess you’ll never just STFU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. socraticsilence says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Says the man whose side has responded to ass-kickings by questioning the citizenship of American President,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @socraticsilence: Says the man whose side has responded to ass-kickings by questioning the citizenship of American President,

    But… but… huh? WTF does that even MEAN?

    No, don’t answer. I don’t want to become so stupid that it makes sense.

    @Modulo Myself: The (Wisconsin Club for Growth and its treasurer) have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted. Instead, it should be recognized as promoting political speech, an activity that is ‘ingrained in our culture,’” Randa wrote, quoting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

    As I read this, the judge basically admits that the law was broken, but that’s fine, because circumventing laws (regarding money, by white people) is fantastic. Calling the investigation partisan buries the big lead.

    As I read this, the judge is saying that they found a way to do what they wished within the law. And the turds who passed that law are mad that they didn’t close all the loopholes. And it’s borne out by two different judges saying that the prosecutors couldn’t even prove that an actual crime had likely been committed — which, I believe, is an essential part of any criminal investigation.

    And I’ve noticed something entertaining. If one takes what the Democrats have said the Republicans have done towards Obama since day one of his administration — fighting him every step of the way, conspiring to make him fail, plotting to remove him from office, and taking every and any step possible to destroy him — it’s a perfect description of how they’ve treated Walker. It’s a classic case of projection — accuse the other side of doing exactly what you’re doing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  40. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I assume you had an equivalent amount of outrage over the 22 million emails that went missing from the White House in 2007? Let me think… I seem to recall our very own Darrell Issa defending lack of archiving on technology issues, and, bonus, calling Democratic complaints about those missing emails “shameful.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Blue Galangal: So, you’re cool with the IRS doing it now, because the Bush administration did it then? Is that your argument?

    Another aspect of your parallel: everyone EXPECTS the White House to be political; the IRS, in theory, is supposed to be non-partisan. So you’re admitting that the IRS is a partisan extension of the Obama White House?

    Not a very good defense you’re mounting there…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  42. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    How could there be no evidence that there was illegal coordination? They have an actual email:

    On May 4, 2011, Walker wrote an email to Karl Rove, the former White House aide and Republican strategist.

    In that email, Walker boasted about the abilities of one of his political consultants, R.J. Johnson. “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,” Walker wrote.

    The email matters because at the time Johnson was wearing a number of hats: He was a Walker advisor and a consultant to Walker’s own campaign, but he was also involved, sometimes with his wife, in other outside groups, like the Wisconsin Club For Growth and Citizens for a Strong America, which were supporting Walker. Another email obtained by prosecutors, which had been sent to Walker, described Johnson as having “coordinated spending through 12 different groups.”

    The bottom line is that the prosecutors nailed Walker’s people to the ground.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  43. Grewgills says:

    So, you’re cool with the IRS doing it now, because the Bush administration did it then? Is that your argument?

    Once again you (intentionally?) miss the point. It is the hypocrisy that is being pointed out. Issa is (pretending to be?) furious over the missing IRS emails and was (pretending to be?) furious over people questioning the missing Bush administration emails. The two positions are diametrically opposed. Where you outraged over the (many more) missing Bush admin emails? Where you as outraged over their improper email protocols? I am guessing that you accepted the Bush admin excuses and were against them facing any real consequences for the missing data. If that is the case then you are equally hypocritical in this instance as is Issa.

    So you’re admitting that the IRS is a partisan extension of the Obama White House?

    Yet another straw man. Do you really think that this transparent maneuver will convince anyone? or are you just trying to provoke a response?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  44. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Once again you (intentionally?) miss the point. It is the hypocrisy that is being pointed out.

    Right there is the straw man. The issue here is NOT Issa, and by changing the subject to him, you’re allowing yourself to avoid judging the IRS mess.

    Simple question: IF the IRS deliberately lost the e-mails relating to the current mess (and it sure as hell looks like they did, but has yet to be conclusively proven), was that wrong in and of itself? Can you answer that without finding some way to yell “HYPOCRITE!!!!” at someone? or find something else to avoid exercising judgment and an opinion?

    And again, two judges said that there was no proof that the actual law had been violated. The word used here is “circumvent,” which explicitly does NOT mean “violate.” Kind of like how the Obama campaign “circumvented” campaign finance laws when they turned off the default security settings on their web site that would have prevented donations from non-citizens.

    But in another case of “accuse others of doing what we do,” here’s a hell of a strong indicator that at least one “non-political” IRS official had the inside line on what the Obama campaign had planned, and was coordinating the agency’s role in supporting that move.

    But back on topic — what was the argument on that “straw buyer” gun control thread? Something about how the letter of the law is what matters, and all that matters? Two judges said that what happened was NOT against the letter of the law. Or, more specifically, what the prosecutors presented to them didn’t indicate that there was even a probability that the law had been broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  45. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Simple question: IF the IRS deliberately lost the e-mails relating to the current mess (and it sure as hell looks like they did, but has yet to be conclusively proven), was that wrong in and of itself?

    If that is the case and that is a mighty big IF then yes it is both wrong and illegal and should be punished. That said, Issa’s hypocrisy is relevant as he has spent a ridiculous amount of resources (time and money) chasing after something that he previously found ‘shameful’ to question. That points to this being (at least for/from him) an entirely partisan affair. He is nothing but a hack that will waste whatever resources he can to try to turn anything Obama or his administration does into a scandal. You seem to jump up in support of every witch hunt he starts.
    Did you similarly rebuke the Bush administration for their destruction of over 2 million emails?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: If that is the case and that is a mighty big IF then yes it is both wrong and illegal and should be punished. That said, Issa’s hypocrisy is relevant as he has spent a ridiculous amount of resources (time and money) chasing after something that he previously found ‘shameful’ to question. That points to this being (at least for/from him) an entirely partisan affair. He is nothing but a hack that will waste whatever resources he can to try to turn anything Obama or his administration does into a scandal.

    How Alinsky of you. Nice application of Alinsky Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

    I wonder if you even realize you’re doing it. Instead of actually discussing the issues raised, you find a flaw in the person making the argument and go after them, personally. You seem incapable of separating the argument from the arguer.

    Here, let me anticipate your counter: what you’re doing is challenging Issa’s credibility here, and saying his statements can’t be accepted at face value. Could be a fair point, but it’s not true. What you’re doing is not challenging Issa’s statements, but dismissing them.

    It’s the default tactic around here, and the only credibility it has here is from constant repetition. It’s become so common that the practitioners don’t even think about it, they just use it over and over again, and think that it actually means something.

    You wanna be part of that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  47. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Nice try. I have addressed the arguments on multiple occasions with you and others, pretending otherwise displays either poor memory or a disingenuous attempt to deflect this particular criticism.
    Issa is playing a partisan game. This is not the first issue that he has jumped on and won’t be the last and like the ones that came before he will harp on it till Obama is out of office and like Benghazi, almost certainly nothing will come of it other than hearing after hearing and selective leaks. After seeing his dog and pony show a few times, yes the arguer becomes part of the argument. As Jesse Jackson said, ”you can’t just look at the allegation, you have to look at the alligator.”
    And, for at least the third time now I ask you, how did you respond to the Bush admin’s loss of well over a million emails? I seem to remember calling you out like this on previous occasions only to have you there, like here, respond to parts of my comment, but conveniently fail to address the questions directly posed to you. Will you continue this habit or will you man up and answer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: And, for at least the third time now I ask you, how did you respond to the Bush admin’s loss of well over a million emails? I seem to remember calling you out like this on previous occasions only to have you there, like here, respond to parts of my comment, but conveniently fail to address the questions directly posed to you. Will you continue this habit or will you man up and answer?

    Don’t really recall it. But again, it reflects that you don’t want to discuss what’s happening now, and would rather challenge me on my potential hypocrisy. Is your opinion on the matter at hand that dependent on who brings it up?

    And back to the IRS… am I the only one remembering when it first broke? It was these two rogue agents in Cincinnati and Obama called it “unacceptable.” What the heck changed since then?

    And George Will had a good bit on the IRS mess:

    Here’s — we know six things, Chris. We know first the targeting occurred.

    Therefore, second, we know that this is worse than article two of the Nixon impeachment count, which said Nixon endeavored to use the IRS. The IRS back then resisted.

    Third, we know that this became public in an act of deceit when Lois Lerner planted a question with a friend in an audience to try and get this out on her own terms.

    Fourth, we know that she has taken the Fifth Amendment because she has a right to do this when she has a reasonable suspicion that there might be criminal activity involved.

    Fifth, we know that from the timeline you put up today, that there has been 13 months of stonewalling on this.

    And sixth, now we know that not only her hard drive, but six other people intimately involved in this suddenly crashed in an amazing miraculous coincidence. Religions have been founded on less, ten days after the investigation started.

    Nice little summary there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Don’t really recall it.

    BS

    But again, it reflects that you don’t want to discuss what’s happening now

    I have discussed what is happening with you at length in other threads. Issa is on a partisan witch hunt and I suspect your reaction has more to do with partisan politics than actual outrage. That you can’t even give a post hoc opinion on a similar case indicates that the same is true of you.

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