MADISON, Wis. — Attorneys who fought a now-closed probe into Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to order prosecutors to return all documents seized in the case and order an investigation into who leaked some of them to a newspaper.
Dean Strang and Edward Meyers are among a group of attorneys who pushed back against the secret so-called John Doe probe into whether Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups, most notably Wisconsin Club for Growth, on fundraising and advertising. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the investigation.
The state Supreme Court halted the probe last year, ruling the coordination was legal because the advertising amounted to issue advocacy and didn’t specifically call for a candidate’s election or defeat. The prosecutors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but that court refused last week to take it up, officially ending the investigation.
Strang represents Deb Jordahl and Meyers represents R.J. Johnson, both Club for Growth consultants, according to court documents. The attorneys filed a motion with the state Supreme Court on Friday noting that the state justices ordered all materials prosecutors and their agents seized returned to their owners when it halted the probe in 2015, but someone leaked hundreds of pages to the Guardian newspaper.
They asked the state court to order all materials, including copies and originals, returned to their owners by Nov. 2 except for documents in play in a federal case in Milwaukee. In that lawsuit, former Walker aide Cindy Archer has alleged prosecutors and police violated her constitutional rights when they searched her home in 2011 as part of the investigation.
Strang and Meyers also asked the court to order an investigation to discover who leaked the documents to the Guardian, arguing that person was in contempt of court because documents in John Doe proceedings are sealed. They wrote that Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel had acknowledged in “private conversations” that the documents had been hacked. Schimel spokesman Johnny Koremenos, however, denied in an email that Schimel said anything like that publicly or privately.
The leaked documents showed how Walker’s top campaign adviser was coordinating with Club for Growth on how to spend the millions Walker was raising to help him and Republican senators win the 2011 and 2012 recall campaigns. The newspaper reported that the documents show a leading manufacturer of lead that was once used in paint was among a host of corporate leaders who donated to a conservative group that helped Walker and Republican legislators fight the recall challenges.
The attorneys did not say who should undertake the investigation but noted that Schimel is the only law enforcement officer with statewide jurisdiction. Koremenos said the state Justice Department doesn’t comment on things that could jeopardize a potential or ongoing investigation.
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