Sunday, November 17, 2013

Walkergate Two: John Dough

It's been almost a month since Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story of a second Walkergate investigation.

A couple of weeks later, Matt Kittle of the propagandist group Wisconsin Reporter hit the panic button and started blabbing about how this second Walkergate was targeting right wing front groups like Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and the Republican Governor's Association.

The links between these groups were fleshed out by Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express.  I added to Kaiser's work, pointing out the complaint of collusion and collaboration between WISGOP, Walker's campaign and all of these right wing groups.  I also pointed out the news that similar groups in California just got walloped in court for breaking campaign laws with the illegal laundering of their dark money.

In the subsequent weeks, Kaiser has published two more must read articles on this matter.

In the first article, Kaiser goes further into the incestuous relationships between all of these sinister groups, and adds a few more, including the scandalous United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.

In her second article, Kaiser blows the doors off the story by showing that the same money laundering groups caught in California was siphoning money to their counterparts in Wisconsin.  She also shows that several of these right wing groups who donated to the Wisconsin Club for Growth.  Included in her article is this:

According to multiple reports, the committees are part of a national right-wing network of groups—some or most of them connected to the Koch brothers—that exist solely to funnel money from faceless group to faceless group, money-shuffling that grants enhanced anonymity to donors.
“It seems like this goal of this is to help disguise donors, to blow some smoke around the dark-money groups,” said Brendan Fischer, staff counsel for the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy, which has investigated dark-money groups in Wisconsin and nationwide. “These conduit groups basically provide donors with extra protection and allow them an extra layer of anonymity. Instead of the donors being listed as David Koch or Charles Koch, the donor will be the Center to Protect Patient Rights.”

These tax-exempt nonprofit “social welfare” groups must only report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which organizations they send money to; they aren’t required to report their donors.

In addition to giving big to the California campaigns, the Center to Protect Patient Rights channeled money into a major supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The IRS documents of the Phoenix-based, Koch-connected CPPR show that it donated $225,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the major opponents of the recalls of Walker and a handful of Republican state senators.

Wisconsin Club for Growth, run by Walker’s former top campaign aide R.J. Johnson, was the first group to run pro-Walker ads in 2011, after the new governor announced his plan to gut collective bargaining rights of public employees.

The group reported raising $12.5 million in 2011, its most recent tax filing on record.
Just this weekend, the story picked up even more speed.

Jud Lounsbury at Uppity Wisconsin reminds us of not only Scott Walker's infamous telephone conversation with the phony David Koch, but also of the real David Koch bragging about helping Walker win the recall election:
Perhaps, had the story ended there, prosecutors could turn a blind eye. However, in early 2012, David Koch bragged to Palm Beach Post reporter Stacey Singer that he not only intended to help Walker win the recall election, but that his group had, in fact, successfully won senate recall elections:
JL: Did he explicitly say that his group, Americans for Prosperity, was supporting Walker or wanted Walker to win the recall election?
SS: Yes, in fact, he took credit, via Americans for Prosperity, for the failure of the previous recall to unseat enough state senators to undo the majority, and he indicated he was going to do whatever it took to prevent Walker from losing his seat, lest the recall energize Union Power into the presidential election. (He had enjoyed a glass of wine or two before I brought up Wisconsin.)
These statements are very problematic for David Koch because groups like his Americans for Prosperity cannot act with an intent of helping a candidate win or lose. They are supposed to do a Kabuki dance—just happening to run issue advocacy ads around election time in swing areas—without coordination with the campaign. In his interview with the Palm Beach Post, however, Koch stepped out from behind the curtain and bluntly said that he was spending corporate money via his Americans for Prosperity for or against a candidate—and that's illegal.
Lounsbury then goes on to offer even more examples of the complicity of right wing money machines and Walker and his Teapublicans during the elections.

But to get an idea of how big of a sh*tstorm this might be for the Republicans, there is an anonymously authored opinion piece in  the Wall Street Journal, in which they heavily play the victim card.  It is hard to say how much of this to believe, given that the source is an anonymous author or authors and from a right wing corporate media source.  With that caveat being made, some of the highlights we can glean from this article include:

  • The investigation includes "dozens" of these right wing fake front groups.
  • Said groups include Walker's campaign, WISGOP, the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, and American Crossroads. (I can guarantee that this is not the complete list.)
  • The investigation appears to be focused on the money laundering activities.
  • Eric O'Keefe, director for the Wisconsin Club for Growth, confirmed being served a subpoena.  Keep in mind that this does not necessarily implicate him of wrong doing.  He could be called as a witness to the wrong doing of others.  
  • O'Keefe said he got his subpoena in October. Given the apparent scope of the investigation, it could be months or even years before we see any arrests or charges.
O'Keefe also claimed there were at least three homes raided as part of this deal, but I wonder if he means in relations to his new investigation or if he is referring to the ones from the original Walkergate.

I should also note that O'Keefe saying that he was subpoenaed is not against John Doe rules, as far as I can tell.  He can say he was subpoenaed, but he can't say what or who it was about.  That said, if he did tell whomever wrote the article what was in the subpoena, that might be a whole different story.

There are a couple, three other things that should give one cause to wonder:
  • There's been nothing from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from Bice's first report to a cover article of the Wall Street Journal article.  Are they stifling the story for some reason?
  • I haven't seen any other corporate media source cover this story.  Why not?
  • Where is the outrage from Charlie Sykes, Mark Belling, Media Trackers or MacIver Institute about the leaks?  First they squawk like wet hens when there were no leaks, now nothing.  Then again, people like Sykes were the fake leaks they squawked about, so odds are good they are the leakers again.
There is something to be said about this story, regardless of all else. It might have leveled the playing field a little:
Perhaps the probe will turn up some nefarious activity that warrants this subpoena monsoon and home raids. But in the meantime the effect is to limit political speech by intimidating these groups from participating in the 2014 campaign. Stifling allies of Mr. Walker would be an enormous in-kind contribution to Democrats. Even if no charges are filed, the subpoenas will have served as a form of speech suppression.

Mr. O'Keefe told us that the flurry of subpoenas "froze my communications and frightened many allies and vendors of the pro-taxpayer political movement in Wisconsin and across the country." Even if no one is ever convicted of a crime, he says, "the process is the punishment."
Now O'Keefe knows what it feels like to be in a union in Fitzwalkerstan under Act 10.


  1. Capper, really nice summary.

    Won't hold my breath on wingnut radio complaining about the leaks.

  2. So, in the end there might be fines and a few underlings go to jail. Fines? Money is not a problem for the Koch brothers. A few arrests haven't so far has not yet led to public out cry. I hate to be a pessimist, but in the end Walker stays in office and the radical right just reorganize and pull the same crap a year or so later.

  3. MCG, if that's what happens, all those involved with "Son of Doe," especially Judge Kluka and Mr. Schmitz looked like they wasted the taxpayers money. A Doe gives the prosecution room to close down the investigation, before it's known to the public. Bice broke the story and Judge Kluka and Mr. Schmitz have kept it going. They must think they've got admissible evidence and a pretty good case.

    Fingers crossed.

  4. The conduit may be shut down going into the 2014 elections. Hopefully we wil see criminal prosecution - enough of these fines. - this is blatant criminal activity.

  5. Anyone with a brain can easily document the illegal political activities of a Tea Party 501(c)(4) group in Wisconsin. For example, to track Tea Party Kim Simac, just visit her and notate all the political items. Then, there's the connection of her son, James Maillette, as the recent EVP appointee of Julaine Appling's Wisconsin Family Action, one of the supposed groups under investigation in the 2nd John Doe.

    All the pieces are falling together.

    Document, document, document... heh heh

  6. Now we know why Luke Hilgemann was so anxious to bolt from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. -- Man on the run?

    1. And Hilgemann's family and friends are giving big money to Kulp in Marshfield. The sociopaths never learn

  7. "the committees are part of a national right-wing network of groups—some or most of them connected to the Koch brothers—that exist solely to funnel money from faceless group to faceless group, money-shuffling that grants enhanced anonymity to donors."

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't the technical term for this "Money Laundering"? Or is it only called that when the mob does it?

  8. I do hope the FBI and/or DA will look into the "entrepreneurial" activities of former employees of WMC, who may be providing (illegal?) campaign support to Gov Walker and his WisGOP leadership...