Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Guardian: The John Doe files published today open a door onto how modern U.S. elections operate in the wake of Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that unleashed a flood of corporate money into the political process. They speak to the mounting sense of public unease about the cozy relationship between politicians and big business, and to the frustration of millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised by an electoral system that put the needs of corporate donors before ordinary voters. Scott Walker was under pressure. It was September 2011, and he asked his main fundraiser, Kate Doner, to write him a briefing note on how they could raise enough money to win the recall election. At 6.39 a.m. on a Wednesday, she fired off an email to Walker and his top advisers flagged "red." "Gentlemen," she began. "Here are my quick thoughts on raising money for Walker's possible recall efforts." Her advice was bold and to the point. "Corporations," she said. "Go heavy after them to give."

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She continued: "Take Koch's money. Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1 million now." Her advice must have hit a sweet spot, because money was soon pouring in from big corporations and mega-wealthy individuals from across the nation. Adelson's generosity, like that of most of the other major donors solicited by Walker and crew, was made out not to the governor's own personal campaign committee but to a third-party group that did not have to disclose its donors. In the world of campaign finance, the group was known as a "dark money" organization, as it was the recipient of a secret flow of funds that the public knew nothing about. One of the checks made out to the group, for $10,000, came from a financier called G. Frederick Kasten Jr. In the subject line of the check, Kasten had written in his own hand: "Because Scott Walker asked."

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It is into that dark and obscure post-Citizens United world that the John Doe files leaked to the Guardian land. These are the documents that some of the most powerful judges in the country tried to stop the public from ever seeing.

In July 2015 the state's highest court, the supreme court of Wisconsin, terminated the John Doe investigation before any charges were brought. The conservative majority of the court ruled that the prosecutors had made a basic misreading of campaign finance law and targeted individuals who were "wholly innocent of any wrongdoing".

In a contentious twist to the ruling, the justices ordered the prosecutors to "permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation".

This latter-day equivalent of a book burning could have condemned the John Doe investigation into permanent oblivion, leaving voters none the wiser. But at least one copy of the evidence gathered by the prosecutors survived the bonfire, and have now been leaked to the Guardian.


This truly is huge. At least as I read it, and no matter how much et_al might defend the court's decision to take the measures they did, what was done by the targets was wrong in a way that any nation claiming to value any rule of law has to recognize at face value. This is an extraordinary case obviously outside the norm, but it did happen and the courts ruled as they did. And it seems nothing under the law can stop or control this behavior.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-14 09:21 PM | Reply

Let's call it was it is, money laundering.

#2 | Posted by SLBronkowitz at 2016-09-14 10:00 PM | Reply

Courts have no business ruling that evidence must be destroyed.

#3 | Posted by oldwhiskeysour at 2016-09-14 10:07 PM | Reply

The court's deduction was whatever whoever did wasn't a crime and only overzealous prosecutors with malicious intentions unconstitutionally and erroneously thought so. Even though a couple of the ruling judges were involved with the same group during their re-election campaigns too. The entire arrangements reek of corruption but the Wisconsin Supreme Court says that the prosecution doesn't any law violations to charge the investigated with.

It's now up to the SCOTUS to decide the ultimate fate. It would not surprise me in the least if this case wasn't the real reason the GOP has completely stonewalled Obama's SCOTUS nominee. Since Scalia died, they need Kennedy to reverse his own opinion in Citizens... as recounted in the article. If this investigation is allowed to be finished, the entire post Citizens world reality will be exposed for the obvious, defacto quid pro quo that this case appears to be.

#4 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-14 10:20 PM | Reply

the entire post Citizens world reality will be exposed for the obvious, defacto quid pro quo that this case appears to be.

The quid pro quo of money in politics is protected First Amendment speech, I am told.

I have no idea how ostensibly sensible people can arrive at that conclusion, but that's what they truly believe.

#5 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-09-14 10:24 PM | Reply

I have no idea how ostensibly sensible people can arrive at that conclusion, but that's what they truly believe.

You have put me in mind of the saying:

"For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible."

#6 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2016-09-14 11:13 PM | Reply

And for clarity's sake, Walker wasn't just soliciting money for himself, he was also soliciting money for the GOP state senators subject to recall because without them, all the legislation they just passed would be repealed in the next session. Wisconsin also elects their state Supreme Court justices, and at least one of them who received campaign cash through the "non-profit" super pac also ruled to quash the John Doe investigation and destroy the evidence that has now been leaked.

And we haven't even gotten into the donor who got the legislature to try and give him retroactive protection from lawsuits stemming from his company using lead in paint that harmed many, many poorer people after it became illegal to do so.

This is both "pay for play" and shakedown politics rolled into one big ball of corruption that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled didn't violate any existing campaign laws. Remember how the GOP screamed about unions using their financial power to unfairly sway elections? During the recount, GOP related groups spent over $50 million dollars in little Wisconsin while their opponents spent a little over $20 million, an almost 3-1 advantage. But unions have too much power, right?

#7 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-15 06:13 PM | Reply

I wish I could remember which conservative it was, here on the DR months ago, that told me the wealthy don't purchase influence.

#8 | Posted by Whatsleft at 2016-09-15 07:11 PM | Reply

#8. Sounds like Sala.

#9 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-09-15 07:39 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

no matter how much et_al might defend the court's decision to take the measures they did, what was done by the targets was wrong in a way that any nation claiming to value any rule of law has to recognize at face value.

Interesting, I now have a puppet setting up my position then knocking it down before I find the thread much less post.

From now on I guess I can just post this link. www.drudge.com

#10 | Posted by et_al at 2016-09-15 07:59 PM | Reply

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You have no puppet. The word 'might' means precisely what it does. It isn't a slight, it's a true recognition of the fact I often see things in the law to which you provide relevant information that says aren't there in the way I see them. Is that not true, or am I making things up that haven't happen numerous times?

I thought you'd be smart enough to recognize the allusion for what it was. Guess I was wrong.

#11 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-15 08:08 PM | Reply

happened

#12 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-15 08:10 PM | Reply

Guess I was wrong.

Guess we both calls 'em as we sees 'em.

So far, the last year or so, this has appeared to me to be a partisan dog fight over state issues that haven't caught me attention. I'm not, yet, going to read a couple hundred pages of state supreme court opinions to find out what the legal issues are.

That said, your thread caused me to read the cert. petition. Though I can't find the responses filed Aug. 15, I tend to agree with the petitioners. Hopefully, the Court will grant the petition. There's room to iron out some wrinkles in the "corruption" line of cases.

#13 | Posted by et_al at 2016-09-15 08:36 PM | Reply

#13

Thanks, I think. But just as a citizen, after reading what Walker was able to coordinate and complete, doesn't it feel that the 1st Amendment is being used to justify pretty straight-up influence peddling? I guess the point is this: If what was and is being done can be found within existent law as "legal" then isn't this proof that currently we cannot legally control the influx of unlimited, unregulated money into our political system in any meaningful way whatsoever.

Comment?

#14 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-15 08:58 PM | Reply

I have no idea how ostensibly sensible people can arrive at that conclusion, but that's what they truly believe.

The same mindset that says corporations are people, too.

#15 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-09-15 09:00 PM | Reply

I wish I could remember which conservative it was, here on the DR months ago, that told me the wealthy don't purchase influence.

#8 | Posted by Whatsleft

#8. Sounds like Sala.

#9 | Posted by snoofy

It was. But now he's backing off and saying he never said that.

#16 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2016-09-15 09:29 PM | Reply

#8. Sounds like Sala.

#9 | Posted by snoofy

That sounds right.

#17 | Posted by Whatsleft at 2016-09-15 09:46 PM | Reply

... after reading what Walker ...

Again, I know very little of the matter. I associate Walker's name with partisan bickering and tune out most if not all surrounding it.

What I got from the cert. petition is that the WSC didn't rule on "coordination" under state law because they found the statutory language "political purposes" and "influencing an election" unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. So, they didn't rule on whether or not the conduct was "legal" because they found that part of the statute unconstitutional.

So, I don't find "this proof that currently we cannot legally control the influx of unlimited, unregulated money into our political system in any meaningful way whatsoever." Seems to me the USSC has said that we can.

#18 | Posted by et_al at 2016-09-15 09:50 PM | Reply

"he was also soliciting money for the GOP state senators subject to recall because without them, all the legislation they just passed would be repealed in the next session"

I didn't know anybody other than Walker was subject to a recall election.

#19 | Posted by eberly at 2016-09-15 10:48 PM | Reply

#19

In the fallout of Act 10, progressive groups retaliated by dragging Walker and several other Republicans through a series of bitter recall elections. Six GOP senators were forced to defend their seats in 2011, and Walker himself was put through the recall furnace in 2012.

Those recall elections, and the question of whether Walker flouted campaign finance regulations in order that he and other Republican politicians could stay in office and preserve their anti-union legislation, were the focus of the investigation that generated the files now leaked to the Guardian. It was run by five Wisconsin prosecutors, led by Francis Schmitz, a former federal counter-terrorism expert.

It was known as a John Doe investigation because, much like a grand jury, its subjects were kept anonymous while officials weighed whether or not to press charges. In this case, prosecutors alleged that there was evidence to indicate that Walker and his team of advisers and associates had set up a coordinated effort with lobbyists and major donors to swing elections by secretly pouring huge amounts of corporate cash into the races.

The money was channeled through a third-party group, the DAs alleged, in order to circumvent state and federal rules that set limits on political contributions and require them to be publicly revealed.

The documents show the governor and his fundraising team going after, and receiving cash from, many of the most prominent rightwing donors in the country. In addition to Adelson, there was business magnate Carl Icahn who was approached for $100,000 though nothing in the files indicates that he donated; the hedge-fund billionaire Stephen Cohen, who arranged a wire transfer of $1m; and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone who gave $25,000.

#20 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-09-16 04:05 AM | Reply

One root cause of this violation of one vote for each man is the demise of public television, which now depends on private funding instead of being publically funded. Political debates belong on publically funded broadcasting, which no longer exists in this country and has never been the primary forum for public debate. HBO even owns Sesame Street now, once universally available to poor children.

#21 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-09-16 08:19 AM | Reply

"How Secret Corporate Cash Saved Scott Walker"

Yet another deflection off of the truth about Hilary.

#22 | Posted by LastAmerican at 2016-09-16 11:02 AM | Reply

Say "Good night," Citizens United.

#23 | Posted by john47 at 2016-09-16 11:09 AM | Reply

Say "Good night," Citizens United

#24 | Posted by john47 at 2016-09-16 11:10 AM | Reply

"How Secret Corporate Cash Saved Scott Walker"

Yet another deflection off of the truth about Hilary.

#22 | Posted by LastAmerican

Not every story that makes republicans look bad is a deflection from hillary. They genuinely do a lot to make themselves look bad.

#25 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2016-09-16 01:18 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

This is the brave new world that Republicans worked so hard to create.

#26 | Posted by gtbritishskull at 2016-09-16 04:21 PM | Reply

#20

I assume that's from the linked article. I haven't read it.

In the fallout...
...
Those recall elections...
Uninteresting.
It was known as a John Doe investigation...
Because, apparently, that's what WI statutes said.
The money was channeled...
"Channeled," what does that mean, statute wise? As I said, I don't know enough. And I ain't buying the author's "in order to" part, yet.
The documents show...
Documents say what they say, speak for themselves. What do they mean? That's a whole other story.

#27 | Posted by et_al at 2016-09-16 05:46 PM | Reply

Democracy Now invited the Guardian's author on yesterday's program and he laid out the flow of money and its impact on the recall campaign. The Wisconsin Courts, also elected officials, are as deeply involved in the pattern of quid pro quo corruption as Scott Walker.

#28 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-09-17 08:01 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

I can recall when a legislator who used his state phone for personal call was a big deal. My state has slide so far away from clean government. It started in small ways under former Speaker Scott Jensen and Minority Leader Chuck Chvala years and has lead to this sorry situation.

#29 | Posted by SLBronkowitz at 2016-09-17 10:03 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

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