By M.D. Kittle (Photo: Getty Images)
[Madison, Wis...] - A state lawmaker who helped craft reforms to Wisconsin's John Doe law, is again pushing for a special legislative committee to investigate the state's politically driven John Doe investigations into dozens of conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker.
State Sen. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) said his renewed call for the bicameral committee is all the more urgent in the wake of MacIver News Service investigative story this week on former Wisconsin speech cop Kevin Kennedy.
Kennedy, the former director of Wisconsin's defunct Government Accountability Board publicly discussed the John Doe probe in December in New Orleans at an international conference of government campaign finance officials. Sources say Kennedy lauded a September 2016 Guardian story that included hundreds of pages of leaked court-sealed documents from an abusive campaign finance investigation the Wisconsin Supreme Court found unconstitutional and ordered shut down.
Kennedy, who retired in June 2016 days before the state shut down the GAB and replaced it with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, was an admitted officer in the John Doe investigation. A secrecy order remains in effect for officers of the Doe. Violators are subject to stiff penalties, including jail time and fines.
Kennedy made his public comments as the state Department of Justice was launching a criminal investigation into the Guardian leaks.
"I think it's beholden on the Department of Justice to make sure if the law was broken that it's investigated to the fullest, as they would do in any other situation when John Q. Citizen is accused of violating the law," Craig said. "There should certainly not be any lesser standard for someone who is charged with executing the campaign finance and ethics laws in the state of Wisconsin."
DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the agency's investigation continues.
"We have an ongoing criminal investigation into the Guardian leaks and cannot provide comment on any details at this time," he said Tuesday in an email.
The DOJ reportedly has seized files and other materials from the Ethics Commission office, and it has sought outside legal counsel to represent staffers during questioning.