MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A court filing shows investigators believed Republican Gov. Scott Walker committed a felony when he was Milwaukee County executive in relation to an office lease contract.
Walker, who is running for president, was never charged and neither were either of the other two people investigators named in the 2011 request for a search warrant, made public Wednesday as part of a lawsuit. His campaign spokeswoman criticized the filing as an attempt to influence public opinion.
The warrant was issued in a John Doe probe that focused on longtime Walker aide Cindy Archer and others who were close to Walker during his tenure as Milwaukee County executive. Neither Archer nor Walker faced any charges the overall investigation, known as a John Doe because it is largely conducted in secret, but six other Walker aides or associates were convicted on a variety of charges, including two for doing illegal campaign work in 2010.
Walker has long maintained that he did nothing wrong and that he was not a target of the investigation.
“The information released today comes from a case that has been closed for more than two years,” Walker presidential campaign spokeswoman AshLee Strong said. “It is another example of the politics involved in this process as people who could not prove things in a court of law are attempting to win in the court of public opinion.”
The Wednesday filing came in a federal lawsuit against prosecutors brought by Archer, who alleges that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and investigators working for him violated her constitutional rights to free speech and association, and unreasonable search and seizure.
The filing included a copy of the 2011 request for a warrant to search the home of Archer and others being investigated.
In it, investigators said they believed there was probable cause that Walker, longtime Walker friend and campaign treasurer John Hiller and real estate broker Andrew Jensen committed felony misconduct in office in relation to the negotiation of a lease to house the county’s Department of Aging.
Prosecutors were looking into signs of misconduct and bid-rigging related to the competition to house the department in private office space. Investigators were also looking into donations Walker’s campaign received from officials with Mid American Building Services, which won a contract to clean county buildings.
All three of the bids under consideration for the department were ultimately rejected, and no one involved with the bids was ever charged with any wrongdoing.
“People in Wisconsin and across the country deserve answers from Governor Walker on why law enforcement officials had probable cause to believe he committed felonies,” Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said.
The first John Doe investigation launched a second one focusing on whether Walker’s 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with more than two dozen conservative groups. The Wisconsin Supreme Court last month ended the investigation, saying none of the campaign activity was unconstitutional.
A special prosecutor on Tuesday asked the court to reconsider that decision and place its ruling on hold, a move that signals he may take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The second investigation, like the first John Doe probe, was secret and many of the court filings have not been publicly released. The motion from special prosecutor Fran Schmitz was under seal pending a determination by the court as to whether it should be made public.
Schmitz did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday. Todd Graves, the attorney for the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which filed a lawsuit challenging the probe that went to the Supreme Court, declined to comment.
The two court filings come as Walker prepares to take part in the first Republican presidential candidate debate on Thursday night in Cleveland.
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