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Prosecutor says Scott Walker was not target of probe

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A Wisconsin prosecutor said Thursday through his attorney that Gov. Scott Walker (R) was not the target of an investigation into the alleged illegal coordination scheme and that he has drawn "no conclusions" about to whether any charges should be filed against him based on available evidence.

The comments came a week after legal documents were released alleging that Walker was part of a “criminal scheme” to coordinate the activities of conservative groups that spent money to support him and other Wisconsin Republicans who faced recall elections.

The special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, has been sued in his personal and official capacity. Schmitz's attorney, Randall D. Crocker, issued a lengthy statement asserting that his client did not decide whether Walker — or anyone under scrutiny in the case — should be charged.

"Mr. Schmitz has made no conclusions as to whether there is sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime," said Crocker. "It is wrong for any person to point to this sentence in a legal argument as a finding by the Special Prosecutor that Governor Walker has engaged in a criminal scheme. lt is not such a finding."

Crocker said the documents "were never intended to be made public."

Walker has not been charged with anything. He's denied allegations of wrongdoing. Crocker said in his statement that the governor was never served with a subpoena.

"Contained in the documents is a reference to the request for production of documents that relates to an alleged criminal scheme," Crocker said. "Governor Walker's name was included in this reference. While these documents outlined the prosecutor's legal theory, they did not establish the existence of a crime; rather, they were arguments in support of further investigation to determine if criminal charges against any person or entity are warranted. Mr. Schmitz has made no conclusions as to whether there is sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime."

Walker is up for reelection this year. His Democratic opponent Mary Burke released an ad Thursday that splices together media coverage of the allegations that surfaced last week.

Walker's campaign manager, Stephan Thompson, called on Burke's campaign to remove its commercial, calling the spot "slanderous at best" in a statement. Thompson's statement cited Crocker's assertion that it is "wrong" to point to the legal findings and conclude Walker committed a criminal offense.

A federal judge has halted the investigation into the alleged activities. That decision is under appeal.

The law prevents campaigns from coordinating strategy with third-party groups. But proving such activity can be very difficult.

Outside groups and campaigns have found workarounds they routinely deploy to push the limits. Campaigns will often post video or opposition research online. A friendly group could easily use the information to construct a TV advertisement or mail piece.

Such moves allow the two sides to edge up to the legal line without technically crossing it. Though some opponents of such practices argue that aren't technically legal and have filed complaints.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Sean Sullivan · June 26, 2014

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