It’s the biggest question hanging over Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election: Will Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm file additional criminal charges as part of his John Doe probe before the June 5 election? For nearly two years, Chisholm’s office has been looking into various activities in Milwaukee County during Walker’s time as county executive. So far, prosecutors have brought charges against three ex-Walker aides, one appointee and a major campaign contributor. Chisholm has sent strong signals that additional charges are in the offing. Walker – who has set up a legal defense fund to pay his two lawyers – said recently that he trusted Chisholm and his staff to decide when and whether to file additional charges. “They’ll run their course one way or the other,” Walker said at a Milwaukee appearance last week. “It truly should be left up to them, and it’s why we’ve been able to cooperate so much.”
Several former prosecutors and judges suggested they would be extremely cautious if they were in Chisholm’s shoes. In short, they said they would file any additional new charges soon, or wait until after June 6. A John Doe probe is a secret investigation that allows prosecutors to compel testimony and gather evidence.
Ex-Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John Franke, who had a celebrated career prosecuting organized-crime figures, said DAs face “no-win choices” when handling a criminal case involving a politician or his aides shortly before an election. Franke would be inclined to sit on his hands until the votes are cast.