We all knew it was going on, and we all knew it was deplorable. But it's always a great day to see the documentation.

Today's lead article on The Guardian's web site is Because Scott Walker Asked, (link is external) an article based on a leak of the John Doe documentation which has been sealed by the courts. It is not clear who leaked these documents to The Guardian, but it's refreshing to see what it is that the donors to conservatives in Wisconsin have been so keen to cover up for years.  It's what we all expected, but worse to see all in one lump.

The article is thoughtful, and I think fair. At the beginning of the ill-fated recall election of the governor, he started soliciting money from big donors - but rather than having it sent to his own campaign, he requested money be sent to the Club for Growth, since that allowed untraceable donations of unlimited size. The Club for Growth and other conservative groups have always maintained that this was perfectly legal since they money was not being used in a coordinated campaign to elect someone, but was being used for "educational" advertising. You've all seen these educational ads along the lines of "Call Joe Schmoe and tell him to stop beating his wife". It often then turns out that Joe isn't even married, but no matter, the damage is done. Anyone who believes these ads are educational just because they do not contain the magic words "Vote for _______" is living in a fool's paradise.

This is an appalling tale of dark money gone wrong. The article documents quite a lot of coordination with the Club for Growth, and a concerted effort on the part of many in the Walker administration to funnel money into campaigns with the intent of keeping Scott Walker in office, and to have State Supreme Court Justice Prosser re-elected. It also tells the well-known story of how the state passed legislation in favor of lead paint manufacturers after a healthy wallop of dark money flowing to support candidates in the state. We knew all of this went on, but we did not know the details and the extent. The leak of the documents makes this clear.

The entire cache of documents is available on DocumentCloud. L (link is external)et us know if you find anything interesting in there.  (link is external)

The state Supreme Court ruling that shut down the John Doe investigation is currently being put before the federal Supreme Court, and we may know more about that very soon. In the meantime this pile of documentation makes it much clearer why the John Doe investigations were carried out - whether or not this behavior was legal remains to be seen, but certainly it  serves as a stain on Wisconsin's previously squeaky-clean government, and is a thought-provoking embarrassment to us all. Wisconsin needs a change in government from its current dysfunctional one-party rule. We will shortly have a chance to make that change.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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