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Gov. Scott Walker entrenched in criminal scheme investigation

Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin who is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is being accused of wrongdoing. Walker allegedly was involved with a nationwide criminal scheme designed to coordinate fundraising with conservative groups. The accusations were made by prosecutors with court documents that were unsealed on Thursday, according to a Yahoo! News report late Thursday afternoon.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

At this time, there have been not charges filed against Gov. Walker or any of his staff members. Both sides arguing over the issue are arguing in court as to whether or not the activities, in which Walker allegedly engaged, are covered by election laws. The documents which have just now been released link the governor to an investigation which involves 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

These documents were initially filed in December of last year. They were a portion of an investigation into fundraising that involved the governor and his campaign. Additionally, it involved the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the state Chamber of Commerce, as well as other groups.

The current investigation was initiated two years ago when Walker was engrossed in a recall election. His political stir at the time was that he had passed a bill that basically ended collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin. For the past month, the probe has been suspended as a federal judge ruled the investigation to be a breach of the political group Wisconsin Club for Growth’s rights to free speech. With that move, the case was halted – temporarily.

The investigation involves state prosecutors believing that Walker, former chief of staff Keith Gilkes, top adviser R.J. Johnson and campaign operative Deborah Jordahl discussed illegal fundraising. Also, they are accused, via the December filing, of coordinating with national political groups and prominent Republicans. One of the prominent Republicans named was Karl Rove, a well-known political strategist.

In the December 2013 documentation, Francis Schmitz – the lead prosecutor in the case – asserted that the scope of the criminal scheme under investigation is expansive. He claimed that it includes criminal violations of multiple elections laws including the filing of false campaign-finance reports.

Walker has said that he is not asking people to take his word for it or to take the word of political allies. He said, “I’m saying look at two independent judges, at both the state and federal level, who did not buy those arguments and were rather aggressive in telling those folks to stop proceeding with that because they didn’t think it was right.”

Third-party political groups may work together on campaign activity, according to Wisconsin law. However, they are not allowed to coordinate that work with actual candidates. The political organization Wisconsin Club for Growth has argued that the prohibition does not involve them as they do not specifically tell people how to vote. They do not run ads with assertions such as “vote for a certain candidate.” The federal judge who previously stopped the investigation agreed with that assertion. While it has been known for some time that this investigation has been taking place, it was not known until Thursday that Gov. Walker is directly at the center of the investigation, according to a New York Times report.

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