The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal seeking to permanently block a secret probe into Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and its dealings with allied groups, ending one line of attack by subjects of the investigation. The high-profile probe remains stalled, however, because of a separate decision last year by a Wisconsin judge that is now being reviewed as part of a trio of cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The state’s high court is expected to decide the cases this summer, which will determine whether the investigation can be revived or must be abandoned for good. The ruling is likely to come just as the Republican governor launches an expected presidential campaign. The U.S. Supreme Court passed on taking the case without any comment, as is its usual practice. Its decision leaves in place an appeals court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit.
Prosecutors launched their John Doe probe in August 2012 in Milwaukee County and last year expanded it to four other counties. They were looking at whether Walker’s campaign illegally collaborated with ostensibly independent groups, such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth. John Doe investigations allow prosecutors to compel people to testify and produce documents and bar them from talking publicly about the probe.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth and one of its directors, Eric O’Keefe, sued prosecutors last year and tried to hold them personally liable for violating their civil rights.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in May 2014 ruled against prosecutors and they appealed. In September, a panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago dismissed the federal lawsuit, ruling that the issues it raised should be handled by the state rather than the federal judiciary.