Friday, June 20, 2014

The Times Is At It Again

In I Thought Rose Mary Woods Had Retired and It's Special Prosecutor Time, I mentioned the role of the New York Times in suppressing stories potentially damaging to the progressive narrative.  As the house organ of the Democratic Party the Times also plays a pivotal role in creating and promoting stories that it believes will harm the enemies of progressives.

Yesterday's New York Times contains a front page article entitled Wisconsin Governor at Center of a Vast Fund Raising Case (at least they didn't call it A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!) with this lead paragraph:

Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.

  (Target of Vast Left Wing Conspiracy)

You may recall that Governor Walker is #1 on the progressive hit list for his successful push to enact legislation allowing Wisconsin school districts to buy health insurance for their teachers and administrators from a source other than the insurer run by the state's teachers union.  The creation of competition to the union's insurer resulted in lower insurance premiums for school districts (and employees) and in some instances, the districts used those savings to hire additional teachers.  However, it meant that for union leaders a lucrative revenue source was diminished and, among other things, posing a potential threat to their ability to recycle premiums into campaign donations for Democratic politicians, triggering continued attempts to unseat the governor.

If you read the beginning of the Times story you will think that this is an active investigation since it reads that "Prosecutors . . . assert".  This is simply false and an alert reader, reading between the lines of the rest of the story will become aware something is wrong though the Times reporters seem to be desperately trying to make it difficult to discern this.

What actually happened is this.  After failed Democratic recalls and attempts to take over the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in 2012 a group of Democratic district attorneys in Wisconsin decided to undertake a "fishing expedition" and initiated a "John Doe" investigation to try to find evidence that conservative groups illegally coordinated activities during the recall election, figuring that even if they couldn't build a case they could at least intimidate these groups in the future. They issued 100 subpoenas to obtain records, including personal confidential information and conducted secret raids.  And, under state law, those targeted or witnesses to the action were forbidden to publicly speak of them.  [For a description of one of the raids and the gag order placed on targets and witnesses see the NOTE at the bottom of this post].

However, earlier this year a state court judge quashed the subpoenas finding:

“the subpoenas do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.”
Then, in February some of the groups targeted for persecution by the prosecutors filed a civil rights lawsuit in Federal Court and the court quickly concluded that the plaintiffs:

"are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants‘ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted ―without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction"

The Court ordered the John Doe investigation to stop and all seized property to be returned.  It is as part of the prosecutor's appeal of this judgement that the documents cited in the Times were released.  For full order of Judge Randa of May 6, 2014 go here:

So what has really happened is that the documents that are the subject of the Times article have been found to NOT support any legal action against the conservative groups and a Federal District Court has concluded that these groups "are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants' investigation violations their rights under the First Amendment".  If the situation were reversed and this involved Republican prosecutors we all know the Times would be running a story (fully justified, I should add) about how conservatives were politicizing the justice system.

This story is actually part of a larger story about how progressives are "weaponizing" campaign finance laws, whether via the IRS or federal and state prosecutors, to shut down and intimidate any opposition to their political agenda.   

NOTE:  From Judge Randa's May 6 Order:

Early in the morning of October 3, 2013, armed officers raided the homes of R.J. Johnson, WCFG advisor Deborah Jordahl, and several other targets across the state. ECF No. 5-15, O‘Keefe Declaration, ¶ 46. Sheriff deputy vehicles used bright floodlights to illuminate the targets‘ homes. Deputies executed the search warrants, seizing business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys. Among the materials seized were many of the Club‘s records that were in the possession of Ms. Jordahl and Mr. Johnson. The warrants indicate that they were executed at the request of GAB investigator Dean Nickel.

On the same day, the Club‘s accountants and directors, including O‘Keefe, received subpoenas demanding that they turn over more or less all of the Club‘s records from March 1, 2009 to the present. The subpoenas indicated that their recipients were subject to a Secrecy Order, and that their contents and existence could not be disclosed other than to counsel, under penalty of perjury. The subpoenas’ list of advocacy groups indicates that all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present are targets of the investigation.

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