Saturday, August 23, 2014

Money-laundering and hiding from the light- John Doe's real story

In a typical Friday afternoon news dump, numerous documents were released relating to the John Doe investigation into Gov Walker and right-wing oligarch front groups. And the top-of-the-fold headline and story from the pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was damning.
Gov. Scott Walker prodded outside groups and individuals to funnel millions of dollars into Wisconsin Club for Growth — a pro-Walker group directed by his campaign adviser — during the recall elections in 2011 and 2012, according to court documents unsealed for a short time Friday afternoon.

The documents form much of the basis for prosecutors' theory that Walker's campaign and conservative groups illegally cooperated to help him and other Republicans. Walker and the groups deny they broke any laws, noting two judges have sided with them.

Among the funds that flowed into the Wisconsin Club for Growth was $700,000 from a company trying to build a massive open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Soon after the 2012 recall and general elections, Walker and Republicans eased environmental regulations, helping the firm.
The idea behind this scheme was that Walker could kiss up to prospective donors, but instead of directly giving their money to Walker's campaign, and having their names revealed (and also not be able to write off the donations on their taxes), they were allegedly told by Walker and his "inner circle" to launder the money through a third party- the Wisconsin Club for Growth (CfG). You can click on the whole 24 pages of the release here, but pages 4-6 is some of the really good stuff.
During 2011 and 2012, R.J. Johnson, Governor Scott Walker, Keith Gilkes, and others, conspired to use WiCFG to coordinate political activity in response to recall elections against Wisconsin state senators, as well as Governor Walker. . . . Because WiCFG is a social welfare organization organized under Title 2 U.S.C. 501(c)(4); it can involve itself in limited political activity, provided that “supporting or opposing candidates” does not become the organization’s primary purpose. Corporations could lawfully contribute to the “501(c)(4) organization so long as the expenditures were not coordinated or made with the cooperation, consultation or at the request of a candidate or political party. However, during 2011 and 2012, WiCFG became the means for coordinating political campaign activities of the 501(c)(4) organization with personal political campaign committee of Governor Walker, in particular coordinating activities of FOSW [Friends of Scott Walker] with WiCFG with respect to the recall of Governor Scott Walker.

Contributions were personally solicited by Governor Scott Walker to WiCFG, a “501(c)(4)” organization in order to circumvent the reporting and contributions provisions of Wisconsin Stats. secs. 11.10(4), 11.06(1), and 11.27(1) that would constitute a violation of Wisconsin Stats. Sec. 11.26, 11.27 and 11.61(1)(b).
The contributions to WiCFG solicited by Governor Walker in opposition to his recall provided donors with a means to support Governor Walker through anonymous contributions and corporate contributions to WiCFG without any contribution limits.
This is the real story with John Doe, how the Walker Administration ran as a "pay-for-play" operation, as shown by Gogebic's contributions to Walker and paying off in the mining bill that was passed as the first act of the 2013-15 legislature. This type of backscratching was emphasized as a reason the Walker folks encouraged the donations to Club for Growth.
An April 28, 2011, email from [Club for Growth aide] Kate Doner to [Walker advisor and Club for Growth official] R.J. Johnson that states: “As the Governor discussed . . . he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging. We had some past problems with multiple groups doing work on ‘behalf’ of Gov. Walker and it caused some issues. In Wisconsin, a 501(c)(4) is the legal vehicle that runs the media/outreach/GOTV campaign. The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.” (emphasis added)

[Id. at ¶¶ 13-15; Exhibit 3] A June 20, 2011, email from Kelly Rindfleisch to Scott Walker that forwards an itinerary for a fundraising trip that provides background on donors Scott Walker was scheduled to meet. Among the talking points related to these scheduled meetings are the following: “Stress that donations to WiCFG are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits”; and “Let them know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported.” The talking points also encourage Scott Walker to request contributions for “your 501c4.”
In addition to the coordination of message (illegal itself), the term "INVEST" in Club for Growth would seem to define "quid pro quo" corruption, which is defined as
something that is given to you or done for you in return for something you have given to or done for someone else.
Quick note, Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch was already under investigation for campaign violations in Milwaukee County that she would plead guilty to under John Doe 1 a year later, and was within a month of receiving a ghost job from mega-GOP donor Michael Eisenga as hush money she was nudged out of Walker's "inner circle".

Now last I checked, an INVESTMENT implies that something is going to be returned to the donors that have given money to the Club for Growth. And even the Supreme Court justices that backed the hideous Citizens United decision said was quid pro quo was the only type of corruption that could be prosecuted.

And it's not like Walker and company were ignorant of the law. As Rindfleisch's email indicates, this Club for Growth money-funneling was intended to go around the state's disclosure laws and contribution limits (which were still in place until November 2011, when the Walker recall petition process started). Heck, these right-wing oligarch groups were more than willing to use that law to try to push out legislators opposed to their agenda. Check out this from Page 19 in the recent document dump.
That such circumvention is illegal is certainly well known to Wisconsin’s politicians and political community. This past week, for instance, a recording was released in which Wisconsin state Senator Mike Ellis discusses setting up an illegal political action committee to attack his challenger.
Oh yeah! The "Walker is for Walker" tape, which was likely set up by ALEC-associated voucher supporters to get the anti-voucher Ellis out of the way.

That's convicted criminal and right-wing ratfucker James O'Keefe using hidden cameras to claim Ellis was trying to break state law through coordination. And who did Ellis say would set up his fake superPAC? Judi Rhodes-Engels, who gave Kelly Rindfleisch her second ghost job while she was being questioned under John Doe 1.

This type of deception and circumventing campaign finance laws also explains why Congressional GOPs tried to hard to hammer the IRS for investigating the "social welfare" status of 501-c-4's like Wisconsin Club for Growth- their didn't want the schemes of their puppetmasters to be revealed to the public. And that's why I think this John Doe case involves people that go far beyond just Scott Walker and the 2011-2012 recalls in Wisconsin. This baby goes up to the top of the GOP food chain, which is why right-wing oligarchs got the Wall Street Journal to warn against Walker taking a plea deal 3 months ago- they want to be able to give unlimited money to candidates with no disclosure to the public, and Walker throwing them under the bus means disclosure laws and campaign limits are legitimate.

Mr. "Unintimidated" has backed off of a plea deal for the time being, which means Gov Walker should be asked if he thinks the oligarchs' goal of "all the freedom of giving money without the accountability" is an acceptable way for the state to do business. The John Doe documents indicate he sure didn't seem to think that in 2011 and 2012, which is why they allegedly went through all the money-laundering and efforts to "coordinate message" in the first place.

Stay tuned folks, this could get REALLY big.

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