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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker not target of criminal probe into campaign coordination

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was not a target of a criminal investigation into illegal campaign coordination that was halted earlier this year, according to an attorney for the special prosecutor overseeing the case.

Randall D. Crocker, who is representing special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, also said Thursday that court filings released last week merely outlined a theory of the case and did not constitute a finding that charges were warranted.

“Mr. Schmitz has made no conclusions as to whether there is sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime,” Crocker said in a statement. “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. It is not such a finding.”

“At the time the investigation was halted, Governor Walker was not a target of the investigation,” Crocker added. “At no time has he been served with a subpoena.”

The statement did not address whether prosecutors were targeting top Walker consultants who, according to the newly revealed documents, allegedly steered the activities of the tax-exempt groups.

In the December 2013 court filing — released publicly for the first time last week — Schmitz wrote that prosecutors were investigating an expansive “criminal scheme” to coordinate a network of conservative groups to help Walker and other Republicans fend off recall efforts.

According to the filing, the governor was familiar with the operation and helped raise money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which was allegedly the link between the campaign and the outside operation. Schmitz also quoted from an e-mail that Walker sent Republican strategist Karl Rove in which he appeared to brag about the independent campaign being run by one of his advisers.

Crocker said Thursday that prosecutors never intended the filing to be made public. It was part of a “John Doe” investigation that operates under strict secrecy rules.

Much of what is known about the inquiry has come from court documents released as part of a federal lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Club for Growth challenging the constitutionality of the investigation.

Last month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the group, saying the coordination did not violate election laws because the outside groups were engaged in issue advocacy rather than explicit political activity. The case is now pending before a federal appeals court.

Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.

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