How the State of Wisconsin alleges Scott Walker aides violated the law, in 1 chart

This post has been updated and corrected.

Newly unsealed legal documents filed by the State of Wisconsin last December allege that key aides to Republican Gov. Scott Walker illegally coordinated campaign money and programs between several different groups. We took the information in the filing and diagrammed the alleged relationship.


At the center of all of the allegations are two aides to Walker: R. J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl. "For all practical purposes," the document states, the organization Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG) "'was' R. J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl." It was formed as a 501(c)(4) non-profit, as was a sister organization, Citizens for Strong America. Johnson and Jordahl created CFSA; Johnson's wife was its treasurer.

Johnson and Jordahl also worked as consultants for "Friends of Scott Walker", the campaign committee defending Walker against a 2012 effort to recall him. Wisconsin state law (and most election law) prohibits agents of a campaign from coordinating with outside groups. This is usually an effort to maintain campaign finance laws: If a campaign could send staff to go tell outside groups, who don't have any limits on the size of contributions they can accept, then campaign limits wouldn't serve any purpose.

 

State prosecutors allege that this is essentially what Johnson and Jordahl did. Fundraisers raised money for both WiCFG and the Walker campaign. WiCFG provided 99.99 percent of CFSA's funding. CFSA gave money to groups doing work on absentee ballots. WiCFG also gave money to a trade group that ran ads on behalf of Walker (and against opponents).

Johnson was also allegedly involved in either trying to get other organizations involved in the campaign work or directly consulting with other groups on other campaigns, like the Republican State Leadership Committee (indicated by the dashed circle at the top of the chart). The documents note that the national Club for Growth organization "raised concerns about coordination or interaction between WiCFG and FOSW as early as 2009."

Last month, the judge that unsealed the new documents ruled that the probe into the Walker coordination claims should be halted. That decision is being appealed.

Correction: The article incorrectly referred to the Republican Senate Leadership Committee.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.
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