This kind of political witch-hunt was the hallmark of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Great Terror, but it’s happening in Wisconsin today.
Even worse, it’s not some stinky shadowy group that’s doing the witch-hunt. The home raids are led by supposed law men — Waukesha special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, Milwaukee assistant district attorney Bruce Landgraf, and Eau Claire County reserve Judge Gregory Peterson.
Joe Schoffstall reports for Capitol City Project Nov. 18, 2013:
In Wisconsin, dozens of conservative groups and allies of Gov. Scott Walker are undergoing political intimidation from the left at the hands of a special prosecutor. Subpoenas have been issued demanding correspondence and donor information of right-leaning organizations and individuals and raids have been conducted resulting in law enforcement officers taking computers and files in a secret investigation, according to reports.
I (Dr. Eowyn) tried in vain to find a photo of special prosecutor Francis Schmitz. So elusive is he, M. D. Kittle of the Wisconsin Reporter calls him “the phantom prosecutor” and commissioned the above “artist rendering of “what we believe” Francis Schmitz looks like. (Mike Shelton illustration)
“In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders,” the Wall Street Journal writes. It continues, “Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand ‘all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications’ both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees.
The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.”
The WSJ says the latest actions are taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which makes it difficult for the groups involved to defend themselves publicly. The law, “Bars a subpoena’s targets from disclosing its contents to anyone but his attorneys. John Doe probes work much like a grand jury, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches, while the gag orders leave the targets facing the resources of the state with no way to publicly defend themselves.”
The orders reportedly began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf just days before Democrat Mary Burke announced that she’d be running for governor of the state. Landgraf works for Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm — who led a similar effort against Wisconsin conservatives and Gov. Walker in the past. This is the second such “John Doe” investigation in just three and a half years.
Eric O’ Keefe, director of Wisconsin’s Club For Growth and one of the groups being targeted, said that he knows of at least three of the targets who have had their homes raided. During the raids, law enforcement officers confiscated computers and files. A person with knowledge of the search warrants said they came at the requests of a man named Dean Nickel.
“A person who has seen one of the Wisconsin search warrants tells us that the warrants were executed based on the request of Dean Nickel, who filed an affidavit for probable cause.,” the WSJ reported. “Mr. Nickel is a former head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Public Integrity Unit and has worked as an investigator for the GAB. Mr. Nickel told us he is a contractor for the GAB but wouldn’t discuss the John Doe probe. GAB Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy declined to comment.”
While gagged by provisions and the subpoenas, a source close to Watchdog.org told the Wisconsin Reporter they believe this is a taxpayer funded campaign simply for opposition research purposes. “This is a taxpayer-funded, opposition-research campaign,” one source said. “This is not a question of what conservatives did wrong. It’s a question of one party in this state using prosecutorial powers to conduct a one-sided investigation into conservatives.”
“Investigators are spying on people and using the power of government to collect records,” said another source with knowledge of the occurrences.
Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.