This just in: prosecutors say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was the ringleader of a Republican criminal conspiracy to coordinate the activities of so-called independent conservative political action groups, which spent millions of dollars during his state’s 2011 and 2012 during his state’s recall elections.
Also breaking: the sun rises in the East most mornings and the Earth is round.
In its Thursday editions, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that unsealed court documents allege Walker – said to be among the GOP’s 2016 contenders – knew his top two deputies, R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl, were working with 12 outside conservative political groups.
The goal of the alleged conspiracy: raise (and spend) millions of dollars on the governor’s own campaign and the campaigns of two Republican state representatives facing recall votes at the time.
According to the Sentinel:
The documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove… that Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson also is Walker’s longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a prominent conservative group.
“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),” Walker wrote to Rove on May 4, 2011.
Walker has rejected the accusations, and hasn’t been criminally charged.
We’ve seen for awhile that, at the very least, Walker seemed to be using Wisconsin as a not-so-secret laboratory for conservative groups’ ideology, road-testing their union-busting, tax-cutting, vote-restricting, recall-pushing agenda in real time. Therefore, it’s not surprising to me that the right would use Walker to push other ideological envelopes, too.
What’s amazing, though, is how – shall we say, casual – Walker allegedly was in committing the malfeasance.
Citizens United aside, it doesn’t take a genius of a candidate to avoid breaking a fairly routine election law. If you don’t talk to, appear with or do anything else that would give a reasonable person the impression you’re working with an outside group, you’re good.
But if you, let’s say, send an email to a high-profile political operative, in which you brag about how “wildly successful” your team has been in breaking the law, you might get caught.
If proven true, Walker’s email to Rove wasn’t the smartest move ever by a man with presidential ambitions. Then again, given how he was punked into a boot-licking performance by a pair of deejays posing as Charles and David Koch (video below), Walker probably isn’t among the GOP’s brightest in the first place.
Joe Williams (@VerbDC) is a BNR contributing editor and a former White House correspondent for Politico. He’s a writer and blogger based in Washington.