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Policy: Labor

Special prosecutor probing Wisconsin 2012 recall election

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Wisconsin,Campaigns,Analysis,Scott Walker

A special prosecutor is investigating reported electoral law violations during Wisconsin's gubernatorial recall election last year, in a probe that covers activity in five Badger State counties.

Little else is known about the probe, including who specifically appointed the prosecutor and whom the investigation is targeting.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker declined to answer questions regarding the probe Monday. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which broke the story, that there was little he could say because of the probe's strict secrecy rules. "It doesn't make sense to be involved with that," Walker said.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office initiated the probe, which is now being overseen by Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara A. Kluka. The special prosecutor is Francis Schmitz, a former federal prosecutor.

The probe is reportedly an outgrowth of an earlier special investigation that involved three former aides to Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. Two of the aides were convicted of robbing a fund for veterans. The third was convicted of doing campaign activity on county time, a misdemeanor. The investigation closed in March.

Despite much speculation by the left, Walker himself was not charged. It was his office that first alerted law enforcement officials to the possible theft.

These special investigations function as grand juries under state law, allowing the investigators to depose people under oath. They involve strict secrecy rules and are known as "John Doe" probes for that reason.

The case reportedly touches on a state legislative leader and activities connected to the recall, according to Journal Sentinel. Exactly what potential violations it is looking at has not been revealed.

The 2012 recall election was started by liberal activists and labor unions upset over Walker's rollback of laws governing public employee unions, mainly those requiring government employees to either join a union or pay dues to one.

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Author:

Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner