The first one comes from a guy who's been onto Scott Walker's game from early on- Charlie Pierce at Esquire Politics. Unlike the paid-off Wisconsin media, Charlie connects the dots and lays the situation out in stark terms, pulling no punches in calling the recently-signed John Doe legislation out as the Gilded Age-style corruption and GOP protection racket that it is.
This law is part of a general corruption-enhancing effort that has its roots in a decision by the state's Supreme Court last July that not only ended an investigation into Walker's 2012 re-election campaign, but also declared the kind of coordination between campaigns and "outside" groups to be legal, and then ordered all the evidence gathered in the investigation to be destroyed. At least two of the justices ruling on this case had been the beneficiaries in their own campaigns from the same "independent" groups that were the subject of the case in the first place. They refused to recuse themselves. In addition to the law killing off the John Doe process, Walker's pet legislature also has proposed new laws that would turn the state's independent Government Accountability Board from a nonpartisan body through which independent retired judges evaluate the performance of government officials to a board whose members are appointed by the governor, and one that would make the rubble bounce on what's left of the state's campaign-finance laws.Well, that's the way things are done until the people rise up and make sure it isn't done, anyway. Or until the Feds say "Enough" and step in with a RICO investigation with real charges filed. We have 12 months to save things from truly going over the edge for good, and both of these groups better step up.
It is here where we remind the country that, for more than a century, Wisconsin has been the test-track for good-government initiatives of all sorts. Walker's primary mission in office has been to convert the state into a lab rat for plutocratic experimentation and exploitation. If they could make a banana republic out of Wisconsin, they figured, they can pull it off anywhere. And with Walker, whose penchant for soulless penny-ante grifting is the only distinguishing characteristic of his entire political career, they found the perfect tool, in every sense of the word...
All of these measures have been pushed by groups based outside the state and financed in large part by the various elements of the Koch political machine. (The gutting of the campaign finance statutes is being pushed almost wholly by Wisconsin Right To Life, which is headed by a former official of the state's chapter of Americans For Prosperity.) People opposed to the griftification of Wisconsin have as their only real hope that the vandals will go too far, revolting an electorate that voted for Walker three times in [four] years. Good luck with that.
In addition, Walker and his cronies have been playing mischief with the state's court system, probably to guarantee that they never again will be hauled before it for violating the spectral remnants of Wisconsin's anti-corruption statutes. In September, state Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks, a fiercely independent veteran jurist, literally died in his office. Two weeks ago, Walker appointed an appeals court judge named Rebecca Bradley to replace Crooks. Bradley is a career conservative hack who owes almost her entire rise through the judicial establishment to the intervention of one Scott Walker, who appointed her up through the ranks three times in as many years. (Walker and his allies previously had arranged for the defenestration of Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.) Bradley already has shown her gratitude by refusing to recuse herself from cases involving Walker's cronies that might come before the court. This will give Bradley a leg up when she runs for election on her own, because this is the way you do things in what used to be the state of Wisconsin.
And in that November 2016 election, we know that Scott Walker won't be on the ballot after his presidential campaign imploded (well, barring Recall, Part 2 happening at that time). The New York Times editorial page looked at the cesspool that's growing in Wisconsin now that Walker's off the campaign trail, and the Easterners breathe a sigh of relief that they won't have to deal with that mess. In a piece titled "The Revenge of Scott Walker", the NYT tells the nation just how slanted the field is getting here in Dairyland, and openly laughs at the suggestion from Bradley/Koch funded media that the John Doe investigation in Wisconsin was a Benghazi-style fishing expedition.
Don’t be fooled. Grand juries conduct investigations like this every day, at much greater expense and inefficiency, and rarely to any protest. (There is a reasonable case against the gag orders, but lawmakers could easily have fixed that part of the law by itself.) The real difference here is that the John Doe law was being used against powerful politicians and individuals.And boy are we losing back here in Wisconsin. I'm beyond sick and tired of being a national laughingstock, and I'm especially angry that it feels like those of us who have been right about this guy's foolishness and corruption since day 1 are still having to rely on low-info voting rubes to catch on to the game in order to get our state back. The polls show more of them do get it, but I don't feel nearly secure enough that things will soon turn around.
The law will continue to apply in cases involving violent or drug-related crimes. Where it will not apply is corruption cases against politicians, for whom the new law carves out an unexplained and unjustified exception.
Mr. Walker and his allies are also moving to dismantle the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, which enforces election, lobbying, and ethics laws. Lawmakers are also working to codify into law the State Supreme Court ruling in July that effectively obliterated the state’s modest campaign-finance regulations and smoothed the way for powerful special interests to pour ever more money into Wisconsin politics.
It is a relief that Mr. Walker won’t be able to impose his warped ideas about democratic accountability on the rest of the country. But for the Wisconsinites who are stuck with him until 2018, America’s gain is their loss.