Scott Walker Was Allegedly at the Center of a Criminal Scheme

Newly released documents from an investigation show the Wisconsin governor and potential presidential candidate tried to evade campaign laws.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
June 19, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er al­legedly was at the cen­ter of a crim­in­al scheme to il­leg­ally co­ordin­ate fun­drais­ing with con­ser­vat­ive groups and his re­call-elec­tion cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to newly re­leased doc­u­ments from a Wis­con­sin in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Pro­sec­utors al­lege that Walk­er, his chief of staff, and oth­ers on his cam­paign tried to by­pass state elec­tion laws by work­ing with 12 na­tion­al con­ser­vat­ive groups to raise money for his elec­tion ef­fort in 2011 and 2012.

Charges, however, have not been filed against Walk­er or any mem­ber of his staff.

The in­vest­ig­a­tion found an email from May 4, 2011, between Walk­er and former Bush ad­viser Karl Rove, in which Walk­er says that one of his top depu­ties, R.J. John­son, would lead the co­ordin­a­tion ef­fort.

Bot­tom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly suc­cess­ful in Wis­con­sin. We are run­ning 9 re­call elec­tions and it will be like 9 con­gres­sion­al mar­kets in every mar­ket in the state (and Twin Cit­ies).

The doc­u­ments come from part of  a “John Doe” in­vest­ig­a­tion — called that be­cause it is con­duc­ted in private and is sealed from the pub­lic. A fed­er­al judge un­sealed the in­vest­ig­a­tion Thursday.

The in­vest­ig­a­tion has been a thorn in the side of Walk­er in the past sev­er­al years, es­pe­cially after in­vest­ig­at­ors re­leased emails from Walk­er aides re­cently show­ing ra­cist and ho­mo­phobic jokes.

Demo­crats in Wis­con­sin are con­vinced that Walk­er wants to run for pres­id­ent in 2016, and that he has the skills to do so. As Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Tim Al­berta writes in a new pro­file, Walk­er’s an un­likely char­ac­ter for the job.

Walk­er doesn’t seem like a man who is likely to be elec­ted gov­ernor this Novem­ber for the third time in four years — let alone one who is con­sidered a top-tier con­tender for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion. He’s not a schol­arly policy wonk like Bobby Jin­dal. He doesn’t have the dyn­ast­ic re­sources of Jeb Bush or Rand Paul. He isn’t a skill­ful orator like Marco Ru­bio or Ted Cruz. Nor is he a com­mand­ing, cha­ris­mat­ic pres­ence like his friend Chris Christie. He is, in fact, more like a re­verse Christie: The New Jer­sey gov­ernor is bel­li­ger­ent on the out­side and mod­er­ate on the in­side; Walk­er is a rock-ribbed con­ser­vat­ive in a gen­i­al, un­ex­cep­tion­al pack­age.

Be­ing a pleas­ant guy — agree­able, in­of­fens­ive — isn’t an ob­vi­ous polit­ic­al strength, but it has been one for Walk­er. His soft-spoken nature and his hum­drum per­son­al style have led his op­pon­ents re­peatedly to un­der­es­tim­ate his am­bi­tion, his de­term­in­a­tion, and his stra­tegic skill. …Walk­er’s in­noc­u­ous bear­ing has al­lowed him to move calmly to­ward his prey without start­ling it.

But now, like Christie, he’s find­ing him­self at the cen­ter of a scan­dal that could shat­ter his hopes for the pres­id­ency.

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