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OPINION - Distorting the John Doe emails - Part II

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOGS (WSAU) I blogged last week that the John Doe investigation is largely misunderstood and is largely being mis-reported by the media. The take-away message is that issue ads are treated differently under the law. A candidate can coordinate with special interest groups that run issue ads, and those are the types of ads that were being run by the groups being investigated. Prosecutors have even conceded this point in earlier briefs. That's why a federal judge ordered the investigation to be closed. That decision is under appeal.

But last week's emails reveal something else: Prosecutors are hell-bent on indicting Scott Walker. If it was not for Judge Rudolph Randa's ruling, criminal charges against the Governor would have come down already. The district attorney is undeterred that he's investigating the types of ads that are specifically exempt under the law. In other words, the law doesn't matter. It's a partisan witch-hunt.

In light of this, Scott Walker should not run for President.

Why? Because if hes the GOP nominee, he'll be indicted. Prosecutors will either ignore the law and file charges anyway, or they'll find a friendly judge to okay a third John Doe investigation that will be active during the campaign.

Even though the charges would not stick, as a practical matter you cannot run for president and be facing criminal charges. A candidate would quickly lose control of their campaign. Each political message would be drowned out by the latest developments in the criminal case.

Even if there is not an outright indictment of the governor, prosecutors have already shown their willingness to leak information to the press. The only way Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice could have gotten information about the earlier John Doe investigations is through the Milwaukee County DAs office. Because of the secrecy surrounding these investigations, they're the only ones who'd know who the investigation is targeting. (This is something Judge Randa is very much aware of; he's calling for an investigation into the leaks.)

But imagine how things would be for Candidate Walker. Prosecutors could leak that a grand jury investigation is underway. They'd be no way for Walker to prove or disprove it. Each day there would be drips and drabs about who gave testimony and exactly what's being investigated. His campaign could be rocked by charges, or be killed by a-hundred lashes as underlings face indictment one by one. Who knows -- a lower level suspect could be strong-armed into a plea bargain or turn state's witness. Walker for President would become a circus.

My assessment is this: unless the John Doe investigation is killed for good by the 7 th Circuit Court of Appeals, Scott Walker is not a viable candidate for the White House.

You're probably thinking it is patently unfair that politically-motivated prosecutors can keep a good candidate from running for higher office. You're right, it is. The criminalization of politics is what happens in third world countries. It's happening here. And for those who are cheering the John Doe investigation, be certain that the same tactics will be used against a candidate of your liking in the future.

Chris Conley

Image: Scott Walker from wsau.com