Scott Walker's campaign says the release of John Doe documents accusing him of a felony is politically motivated.
Walker was not charged in the secret investigation that resulted in the convictions of six aides or associates from his days as Milwaukee County exec, and he repeatedly said he was not a target of the probe.
But a new court filing yesterday shows investigators believed there was probable cause the guv and others committed felony misconduct in office. The filing showed Walker was a target, along with longtime confidante John Hiller, commercial real estate broker Andrew Jensen and others as prosecutors looked at negotiations by the then-Milwaukee County exec's administration over a lease to house the Department of Aging.
"I submit that there is probable cause to believe that Scott Walker, John Hiller and Andrew Jensen, in concert together, committed a felony, i.e., Misconduct in Public Office," Milwaukee County investigator Robert Stelter wrote in the request for search warrants. Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim, who oversaw the secret probe, signed the request.
Jensen was briefly jailed after he refused to cooperate with investigators in the probe, but in 2012, he received a letter from the DA's office declaring he was not a target.
Prosecutors were also looking at donations Walker's campaign received from officials with Mid American Building Services, which won a contract to clean county buildings.
The document had previously been sealed. But Judge Neal Nettesheim, who oversaw the John Doe probe, issued an order last month allowing its release so prosecutors could respond to lawsuit by a former Walker aide accusing them or targeting her in the secret investigation as political retribution.
A source close to Walker said the guv had not seen the document before WisPolitics.com was first to report on it yesterday.
Walker's backers have long maintained the John Doe prosecutors were releasing material from the probe in an effort to damage the guv politically, and his campaign leveled a similar charge on the eve of the first GOP presidential debate.
His supporters noted past releases of documents from the John Doe probe occurred a couple weeks before the 2014 election, for example.
"The information ...comes from a case that has been closed for more than two years," said spokeswoman AshLee Strong. "It is another example of the politics involved in this process as people who could not prove things in a court of law are attempting to win in the court of public opinion."
State Dem Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff, meanwhile, said, "People in Wisconsin and across the country deserve answers from Governor Walker on why law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe he committed felonies."
The records were filed in response to a lawsuit by Cindy Archer, who has accused prosecutors of targeting her for political retribution in the John Doe probe. Milwaukee DA John Chisholm and Assistant DAs David Robles and Bruce Landgraf denied her allegation in the motion.
It was the second filing in that case in less than a week that included new details of the probe, which closed in 2013.
A filing Friday by two Milwaukee County investigators also targeted in Archer's suit says a criminal complaint naming Archer and others was drafted by the DA's office alleging two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and one count of solicitation to commit misconduct in office. The filing does not say who the others were, and the DA's office ultimately decided against issuing the complaint.
In that filing, Stelter and fellow investigator David Budde alleged the then-county exec's staff was "uncooperative and obstructed" the DA's efforts in the probe.