Sunday, June 22, 2014

A few John Doe angles to look at- (updated 3:27pm, 6-22)

The tentacles involving John Doe Deux, Governor Walker, and the right-wing oligarch groups connected will play out in the near future. I could write a lot about that case and the 266 pages of documents released with it last week, but I'd rather focus on a couple of specific tangents to that case.

1. Check out the name that comes up on Page 124.
The affidavits which are a part of the record outline the close coordination by R.J. Johnson with other FOSW (Friends of Scott Walker) agents, including Governor Walker in the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall campaigns. Agents of FOSW and WiCFG (Wisconsin Club for Growth, headed by Johnson) , such as Mary Stitt and Kelly Rindfleisch, were involved in fundraising for the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall campaigns not only for FOSW, but also WiCFG.
Kelly Rindfleisch AGAIN! This is after she was charged in John Doe 1, and couldn't officially work for Walker, and also when she was allegedly working for GOP super-donor Michael Eisenga at "National Lending Solutions" in 2011 and 2012. Let me give you a great graphic the Root River Siren made last year to remind you what kind of character Eisenga is, and how he's connected with GOP organized crime department.

Gee, you think Kelly's "job" with Eisenga might have been a cover for something else? No wonder Eisenga thought Rep. Joel Kleefisch owed him the chance to get out of paying child support. And is this at all related to Eisenga's huge contribution to the Republican Governor's Association in 2013?

On a related note, was this job a way to make sure the Walker and Koch folks could keep a close eye on Rindfleisch as her court case made its way through the system, to make sure she didn't give up the goods on what was really happening in Milwaukee while she "worked" there during Walker's 2010 campaign?

2. A claim by the Walker folks and other right-wing oligarchs is that the governor's campaign collaborating with "issue advocacy" ("tax cuts are good") is OK vs "express advocacy" (i.e. "vote for/against Walker"). The prosecutors say the problem with that thinking is that this defense was thrown out 15 years ago in case involving a fake front group set up by Mark Block, aka "the Smoking Man" for Herman Cain, (called the Wisconsin Coalition for Voter Participation) could not coordinate with Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign blog has a good rundown of how that played out.
It has been settled law in Wisconsin that this prohibition on coordination between candidates and interest groups applies to organizations doing election-related "issue advocacy." Application of the coordination ban to so-called "issue ad" groups was challenged in the late 1990s in the case involving a group that was found to be coordinating with Justice Jon Wilcox’s 1997 campaign for reelection to the state Supreme Court.

State election authorities heavily fined both Wilcox’s campaign as well as political operative Mark Block, who ran the issue ad-sponsoring Wisconsin Coalition for Voter Participation. At the time, the fines were the largest in state history for campaign finance violations. Block also was banned from involvement in Wisconsin elections for three years. The state's enforcement actions were contested in court, and ultimately were upheld in a 1999 ruling.
After Block's three-year ban ended, he signed on as the director of the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity chapter in Wisconsin (I'm sure that's just coincidence). And there as Mike McCabe mentions in the article, the endgame for the Koch crowd is to eradicate any laws relating to coordination and the subsequent disclosure of donors' names.

There's a second question that should be answered here. Given that the recall election loophole enabled candidates to raise unlimited funds, why did R.J. Johnson and others launder money like this? The only answer I can come up with is to hide the names of the donors to Walker and the GOP Senators, and to allow those people to write off taxes as a "donation" to these alleged social welfare groups. Which would be right down the Kochs' alley.

3. There are many groups that prosecutors say Wisconsin Club for Growth laundered money through in 2011 and 2012. Some of these are mentioned on page 125 and 126, ending with the email Walker sends to Karl Rove claiming that Johnson is the main point guy in this whole scheme. This includes allegedly sending $4.6 million to "Citizens for a Strong America", as well as over $1 million to Wisconsin Family Action, nearly $350,000 to Wisconsin Right to Life, and $245,000 for United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.

The prosecution also mentions the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin "were involved in coordinated absentee ballot application activities during at least the 2011 Senate recall elections. And that's where you need to remember how we first found out who United Sportsmen of Wisconsin were and are, through a story by Brad Friedman's Bradblog that mentioned United Sportsmen was part of a group giving fraudulent data on absentee ballots in the August 2011 Senate recall elections against 6 GOP Senators who voted for Act 10. And this will stun you, but their organization's roots go directly back to the Koch-Americans For Prosperity money train.
The PO Box described as the "Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center" on those mailers belonged to a Rightwing family group tied to the anti-abortion movement. A spokesperson for the group, as we reported, said that while they were part of a "coalition" with AFP, they claimed to have had no idea AFP was using their PO Box on the mailers until they started receiving them, and that they hadn't seen the mailer before it went out. For their part, AFP claimed the incorrect date was simply a "typo" in two districts where they had sent the mailings, and that "liberals" were making a "mountain out of a molehill" about it all. Late last week, however, in a followup mailing, the group admitted that it had gone out to "everyone" in all of the state Senate districts, rather than just the two where Democrats will face recall elections next week (as opposed to tomorrow's GOP recalls) and blamed the incorrect date on their printer.

The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin (USW) mailers, almost identical in form, font, content, and type-setting, as we showed, had no information about who had paid for the mailings on them, and instructed voters that they needed to return their absentee ballots to the elections clerk by August 4th --- even though ballots may be delivered to the Wisconsin election clerks as late as the close of polls on August 9th.

Since we ran our article over the weekend, which suggested, among other things, previously-undocumented coordination between AFP and USW, and since there was little information to be found about USW on the web, a number of readers have been digging in to try and figure out exactly who the so-called United Sporstmen of Wisconsin actually are, as have we.

And, whaddaya know, a bit of digging reveals that the group was very recently founded by one John W. Connors, a long-time staffer and director of Americans for Prosperity, a College Republican leader, and a rather prolific founder of a number of hard-right political front groups with a record of deception in recent Wisconsin elections.
Now that prosecutors are alleging United Sportsmen's funding came from R.J. Johnson, who took his orders fro Scott Walker, were these dirty tricks ordered to be done by Walker and/or Johnson? What about similar groups that were allegedly coordinated through these guys, and how much pay-for-play boodle was handed out in exchange for campaign contributions and other kickbacks. United Sportsmen of Wisconsin nearly got their hands on a $500,000 grant last Summer, allegedly for " hunter education training", despite there being no evidence they had done anything other than this type of ratf*ck campaigning in the 2 years they'd been in existence.

This ultimately led to the resignation of GOP Majority Leader Scott Suder, who bowed out to even take a job as a lobbyist for the paper industry (quite convenient given that Koch owns Georgia Pacific paper mills in the state, isn't it?). How much of that taxpayer money has been and is being used to fund campaigns and promise kickbacks today?

These are the kinds of questions that aren't as salacious as the "Walker criminal scheme" ones, but they may be every bit as important. As the real story with John Doe is one of hiding donors, money-laundering and tax evasion (which helps explain all the screeching about the IRS looking into the tax status of these groups- it exposes the money train). What it's led to is a cycle of campaign contributions, "independent" ads, and using the officials elected with those ads to gain connections and profits at the expense of everyone else in the state. And unlike what Chicago corruption used to do in the "good old" machine days, the WisGOP style of machine politics hasn't helped the Wisconsin economy in any way.


  1. Yes it documents the reasons I filed a complaint with the Department of Justice in Aug 2011, asking them to investigate the state under RICO, with Walker, Koch, Cline, state Republicans et al for instigating a hostile takeover of our government. I showed them the evidence of what we found at the recount, and kinks to all the official documentation. To see it unfolding is breathtaking. Thanks and I will stay tuned!