Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Signs Law Limiting Investigations of Bribery and Political Misconduct

Friday, October 30, 2015
Governor Scott Walker (AP photo)

The political career of Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, has been marked by several investigations into his various administrations, with aides being convicted of crimes committed to further Walker’s career. So what’s a governor to do when he’s constantly being investigated? Why, make the investigations illegal, of course.


Walker, who for a time this year was a candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, last Friday signed a bill that makes it illegal to use Wisconsin’s John Doe law to support investigations into bribery or misconduct in office. It may now only be applied to investigations of violent crimes and drug-related felonies.


Wisconsin prosecutors had used the tool to obtain search warrants and get witnesses to testify in secret to great effect when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. Six of his aides or allies were convicted then. A more recent investigation of Walker’s 2012 campaign to fight a recall effort was halted by judges with the same financial backers as the governor.


The new law was pushed through Wisconsin’s legislature on a party-line vote. State Senate minority leader Jennifer Shilling said in a statement on Friday that the bill was “a gross abuse of political power.”


“Republicans should be less concerned about covering up Governor Walker’s political scandals and more focused on helping hardworking Wisconsin families,” she said, according to The New York Times.


Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, pointed out the convenience of politicians making investigations into their conduct more difficult. “What this new law does is it exempts from the John Doe process crimes that are committed involving elections, campaign finance and ethics,” he told the Times. “In other words, the crimes that politicians would be most likely to commit. They have carved out a special exemption for themselves.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Limiting Political Corruption Inquiries (by Julie Bosman, New York Times)

Walker Signs Bill Limiting John Doe Investigations (DrydenWire)

Presidential Candidate Scott Walker Cut $250 Million from Wisconsin Education Budget—Used it Instead to Fund Stadium for Milwaukee Bucks (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Wisconsin Judges Who Received Campaign Funds from Business Groups Order Destruction of Evidence about Groups’ Connection with Gov. Scott Walker (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Job53 8 years ago
Limit the investigations of possible illegal actions of our elected officials ? Scott I believe escorting you and people like you out of office in favor of this would be the first order of business .
labman57 8 years ago
What most folks regard as 'political misconduct' is viewed by the Walker Administration to be business as usual.

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