Paul Jacob

Americans have become far too familiar with the existence of secret courts — about which, of course, we know next to nothing. But, thank goodness, these “aberrations” are only for “terrorists.”

And you’re not a terrorist. (Or, so you say.)

How about a conservative . . . or a Tea Partier? Do you fit either of those criminal profiles?

Or, perhaps you are more aptly classified as an independent, even a libertarian, and you often engage in speech designed to nudge people to think about issues you deem critical. You’ve probably noticed that folks tend to be more receptive to political ideas right before an election, so you carefully enter that arena, knowing that voters might go so far as to cast a ballot that shows the influence of some newly found information. That you happen to offer.

Heavens! Are you one of them?

My friend Eric O’Keefe is.

Last weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that O’Keefe, the head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, had his records subpoenaed as a target in a top secret, “John Doe” investigation whereby a District Attorney in Milwaukee County is reportedly sweeping up O’Keefe’s — and 28 other conservative organizations, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign committee — in a multi-county witch-hunt.

The District Attorney is a Democrat, by the way. This fact is almost certainly not irrelevant.

According to the Journal’s editorial, one subpoena calls for these conservative groups to turn over “all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation.” As the editorial puts it, “In other words, tell us who your donors are” — noting that, “The disclosure of conservative political donors has become a preoccupation of the political left across the country.”

After all, one cannot harass donors if one doesn’t know who they are.

While O’Keefe was subpoenaed, at least three individuals had their homes ransacked in dawn raids. Still, we know very little. These John Doe investigations are somewhat unique to the Badger State, and their defining feature is to slap their targets with gag orders forbidding them from talking about the case.

The prosecutors aren’t talking. Neither are the conservative groups being raked over, and who are threatened with criminal prosecution if they speak about it.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.