A 4-2 state Supreme Court decision last month ended a controversial investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election campaign and conservative groups and left a broad swath of Wisconsin’s long-standing campaign finance law unconstitutional. The court’s decision halted the second of two criminal investigations into Walker led by Milwaukee County prosecutors using the state’s powerful “John Doe” statutes. The first led to the convictions of six Walker aides, associates or appointees but the second was stalled by litigation for more than a year amid bitter complaints from conservatives about prosecutors’ tactics and theory of law. Even if the final chapter of these investigations is now at hand, many questions remain. Among the most important: Should two of the justices whose campaigns received heavy support from the groups under investigation and involved as litigants before the court have heard the cases?
However those questions are resolved, the court has spoken and prosecutors have not yet indicated whether they will appeal.
We think Walker has a chance to look beyond the investigations now and lead an effort to update state law and enhance public trust.
… By calling for true bipartisan efforts to address these concerns, Walker could put into action his past expressions of support for Wisconsin’s proud tradition of transparency. He could turn the negativity of the Doe investigations into a positive modernization of state laws that encourage open, honest government and political debate — no matter which party is in control of the Senate, the Assembly or the administration at the moment.