Monday, October 3, 2016

A few other John Doe thoughts- a senseless inaction

Picking up from my brief lunchtime rant today, here’s a bit more of my reaction after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the John Doe case, which allowed the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to stand that essentially legalized the money-laundering and tax evasion scheme that the Wisconsin GOP and other right-wing oligarchs pulled in 2011 and 2012.

First, let’s not fall for the right-wing line that SCOTUS found this scheme to be OK. They didn't say one way or the other whether it was legal- they just didn’t have the guts to want to take up the issue right now. I don’t understand that choice, given that the John Doe case would have given Justice Kennedy and others who supported the Citizens United decision to reiterate that CU did not exempt organizations from disclosure laws, and didn’t allow the coordination among groups that we saw in John Doe. Maybe enough of the Justices wanted a 9th member on the Court to make the decision more definitive, a theory I also find stupid because we now have a number of unresolved issues on campaign finance, with the game being slanted in favor of big money and organizations that lie about who they are. In addition, the public’s interest in finding out who is pulling the strings of their elected officials is now greatly diminished, if certain states choose it to be.

Along those lines, the Capital Times’ Dave Zwiefel had a great column over the weekend which goes past the question of whether these WisGOP money-funneling schemes are legal, and legitimately points out the low-life sliminess of it all.
Nevertheless, they have clearly violated the people's trust that their leaders will act and govern honorably. Where's the morality in tutoring corporations and wealthy business owners on how they can make huge donations and keep it all under cover? What principles do Walker and his cohort have when they accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company and then turn around in the middle of the night to write into law an exemption — a retroactive one at that — to make it harder for victims to receive just compensation?

Sure, you can claim, as Scott Walker has, that numerous courts looked at the John Doe and determined that he and his pals did nothing "illegal." It helps, of course, that the two courts he's talking about are politically sympathetic, especially the state's high court, two of whose justices got hundreds of thousands for their campaigns from the same groups that were under investigation by the John Doe probe.

Convenient, isn't it? But Walker and his buddies are whistling past the graveyard with their "explanations" of why it's OK to stockpile money from dubious sources using dubious means.

Sooner or later the public begins to understand that no matter the excuses, something smells to high heaven.
This is absolutely the point that should be made by anyone in this state running for office against these corrupt WisGOPs over the next 25 months. “DO YOU THINK THIS ACT IS OK?” And along with that question (which the ALEC-GOPs will dodge by claiming “[our] judges said it was legal”), the Dems and other opponents should reply with “We don’t think this is OK, and we are the only ones that will take the steps to stop it.”

That also appears to be the main point behind the statement released today by the three District Attorneys that appealed to the Supreme Court- Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm, Dane County DA Ismaeel Ozanne, and Iowa County DA Larry Nelson. The change has to come from new laws.
We are disappointed by today’s Supreme Court order denying our Petition for Certiorari. The state supreme court decision, left intact by today’s order, prohibits Wisconsin citizens from enacting laws requiring the full disclosure of disguised contributions to a candidate, i.e., monies expended by third parties at the direction of a candidate for the benefit of that candidate’s election. We are proud to have taken this fight as far as the law would allow and we look forward to the day when Wisconsin adopts a more enlightened view of the need for transparency in campaign finance.
And that “more enlightened view of the need for transparency” apparently requires getting enough dimwits to wake up out of their apathy and toss these ALEC-GOPs out of power in Wisconsin. And that to me, is a necessary option to take, because if the justice system fails to allow charges to be brought against corrupt crooks, and the ballot box doesn’t work in removing the crooks from office, then the remaining outcomes get really bad.

1.A Banana Republic, where the state falls into a Confederate, crooked morass with low economic growth, low hope, and a permanent downward spiral. Lots of talent will leave the state under this scenario (if they haven’t already).


2.People take matters into their own hands, because the lawful ways of accountability have failed. This likely means violence and other forms of insurrection.

You fucked up today, SCOTUS. You needed to take the John Doe case, and use it to set the parameters that Citizens United left open. Instead, you have allowed for money-laundering and fake front groups to rule the day in Fitzwalkerstan, and cleared the way for many other places to do the same.

And it’s not like this SCOTUS inaction puts the bigger question to bed. These issues of coordination, disclosure and pay-to-play will come up again, and having a checkerboard of campaign finance laws with differing interpretations on what is “free speech” is not sustainable for this country, or the state of Wisconsin.

I'm completely disgusted, and trying hard not to give in to despair or rage. I'm trying to continue to be the shepherd Ringo, but it's getting harder...


  1. Jake, The SCOTUS news yesterday made me feel like I had been kicked in the stomach. I just want you to know that I agree with your assessment, and I have long been grateful for your posts here and elsewhere. Thank you.

  2. As election day is 5 weeks from today, you have to wonder about the timing of this decision, although it shouldn't have made a difference. The Court now has only 8 judges, and it takes 4 judges voting to decide to hear a case. Last February Ron Johnson was caught being funded by the Judicial Crisis Network, which gets its money from the Koch-connected Wellspring Committee--it dedicates itself to blocking President Obama from nominating that 9th judge to the Court (

    Otherwise, I saw Mike Gousha's show Sunday morning, and Chris Taylor talked about the Dane County DA investigating new evidence that had not yet been through any court as of yet. Laws appear to have been broken that would make those wrongdoers, if guilty, convicted felons. Corporation money, pay-to-play legislation, as well as the big ethical problem of Walker making threats to defund DA offices from their ability to do their jobs.

    Seems like there's a lot more out there since 2012 that raises big questions about how our Government is doing its job. Voter/citizens want to find out the answers!

    1. The Senate blockade on SCOTUS's 9th justice may well be related to John Doe and other campaign finance rulings. We know the Kochs own McConnell and numerous other Republican electeds, and the Kochs do NOT want anything that reveals their money train.

      I also don't find much of what today's GOP does to be coincidental or in isolation to other issues. Your theory is quite plausible to me.

      The other lesson- don't trust the judges in Wisconsin to play it fair. Chisholm and Ozanne should file charges THE DAY they have sufficient evidence, and let the chips fall where they may. Let the GOPs scream "partisanship" all they want, because I have one name in reply if they want to bitch about political prosecutions.

      Georgia Thompson (look her case up if you dont know)

  3. Jake, I'm well aware of the Georgia Thompson travesty.

    When you say "your theory" about an idea I presented, it was meant to be in the spirit of well, gee, why not look into that aspect of the politics we are now forced to endure?

    I don't claim to be some kind of know-it-all, but I am educated via school books and life experience. I was responding to your post in a few short paragraphs--I am not the blogger who can whimsically write a whole chapter about whatever. To me, in blogs a coversation can happen that helps to solve problems, rather than just obediantly receiving a lecture and heroically agreeing with it.

    I have followed your blog for a long time; you perform a valuable public service. Alternative media like blogs are supposed to help bring out ideas that the mainstream won't cover.

    I've been a fellow Democrat since my first vote in 1980, but a lot has changed since then and my patience has been really tested.

    1. I'm totally with you, and I'm extremely frustrated by it myself, because it seems the GOP is absolutely trying to subvert a functioning democracy any way they can. And that's being done at the state and federal levels.