The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled July 16 that the GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker’s campaign didn’t violate any election laws in 2012 although he had close ties with several outside conservative groups.
The decision marks the end of an investigation whose fate remained uncertain after a lower court also ruled that the presidential hopeful’s campaign hadn’t violated any laws.
Yet, critics are now concerned that the ruling may set a dangerous precedent on how campaigns are run in the state because it encourages close collaboration between candidates and outside groups so that more money from anonymous donors can flow in.
Additionally, the ruling may push for some changes in campaign finance laws and may limit how prosecutors run a John Doe investigation. Republicans, who are the political majority now in Wisconsin, requested on various occasions that such procedure should not be conducted on politicians, who shouldn’t be prohibited from making public statements during the investigation.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday on a 4-2 vote. Justice Michael Gableman who wrote on behalf of the majority argued that the connections Gov. Walker’s campaign had with conservative groups were not illegal. The justice urged prosecution to return the papers that they had seized and destroy any additional copies.
“It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing,”
added Justice Gableman.
He also deemed the John Doe investigation “unconstitutional” and congratulated the challengers for allowing the court once more to shield citizens that seek to engage in politics from “capricious governmental prosecution.”
But Justice Shirley Abrahamson who was in dissent said that the ruling would make campaign finance laws so lax that the theme song for it should be “Anything Goes.” She also believes that her fellow justices misinterpreted the state’s campaign finance rules and the First Amendment in an unprecedented manner.
Gov. Walker said he was pleased with the decision. He added that the ruling would allow him to “move forward.”
On the other hand the decision remains controversial. Earlier this year, Francis Schmitz, the top prosecutor involved in the investigation, asked that Justice David Prosser and Gableman be replaced because the issue groups his team was investigating heavily backed their election.
O Thursday, the two justices declined to step aside but they failed to provide an explanation. According to Wisconsin laws political money is not a reason to force justices to step aside. Prosecution, however, said that they plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Image Source: Human Events
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