Those of you who've followed the Left's crusade against Scott Walker in Wisconsin are probably at least passingly familiar with the secret "John Doe" investigations that were launched by abusive prosecutors, then egregiously misreported by the media. With Walker safely re-re-elected and his budget victories won, observers can now examine the truly frightening treatment of the governor's friends and allies at the hands of an out-of-control, partisan prosecutor, free from the passions and urgency of a contested election. Make no mistake: The Left's tactics were aimed squarely at achieving partisan ends, not serving the interests of justice. But just because they failed to destroy Walker doesn't make their actions any less heinous, nor does it mean that conservatives should drop the issue because the immediate political threat has passed. Writing at National Review Online, David French interviews some of the victims of the "John Doe" persecution, giving voice to those who were simultaneously targeted, humiliated, intimidated and muzzled. Here's one of several terrifying vignettes:
Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram. She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. “I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic. TOP STORY: Carly Fiorina Has Hillary Defenders Worried “I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.” She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee. “I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.” They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.” Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.
Click through to read similar accounts from "Anne" and "Rachel," both of whom were similarly instructed not to contact their lawyers, and not to share the details of their ordeal with anyone:
Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school. They, too, had to remain silent. The mom watched as her entire life was laid open before the police. Her professional files, her personal files, everything. She knew this was all politics. She knew a rogue prosecutor was targeting her for her political beliefs. And she realized, “Every aspect of my life is in their hands. And they hate me.”
Megan McArdle sums things up:
At first I thought this article was going to be about SWATing. Turns out, it’s even worse. http://t.co/ZH0c8X4LZc— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) April 20, 2015
Read the whole thing (and here's what SWATing is, for those who haven't heard of it). French's reporting identifies the chief culprit in all of this as hardcore Democrat and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisolm, who was skewered in this lengthy piece by Stuart Taylor last year. Taylor quoted a former prosecutor explaining how Chisolm, at the prodding of his wife -- a fanatical Walker opponent -- made bringing down Walker his "personal duty." Posters depicting the pro-union 'blue fist' emblem hung on the walls of Chisolm's supposedly nonpartisan office. Milwaukee's top prosecutor became the Democratic Party's top hatchet man, abetted by a rubber-stamp judge (who has since recused herself), and vested with the full powers of the state. His partisan thuggery was carried out by men with badges and guns, all under the pretense of a legitimate criminal investigation. The probe has gone nowhere, incidentally, having been halted by two separate court rulings; it's has been the subject of legal wrangling ever since. French notes that the intense dispute is approaching its denouement, on two separate tracks:
Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer. The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights. The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers.
Sooner than later, we'll know if John Doe's targets will finally be freed from this unnerving legal purgatory, and if they'll be afforded a path to seek legal relief against their tormentors. I'll leave you with another piece of political news out of the Badger State:
Breaking News from Wisconsin Watchdog: Baldwin aide breaks silence, alleges senator engaged in ‘coverup’ http://t.co/raIuFpp3PL— Wisconsin Reporter (@wisconsinreport) April 20, 2015