A coalition of media and open government groups pressed a
federal appeals court Wednesday to unseal nearly three dozen
documents linked to a secret probe into Gov. Scott Walker's
coalition filed a brief with the court arguing there's no
compelling reason to keep them sealed in such a highly
publicized case that "goes to the heart of the public's
right to observe the conduct of its prosecutors and the
decisions of its courts."
have been looking into whether Walker's 2012 recall campaign
illegally coordinated with conservative groups on
advertising and fundraising. They've been using a so-called
John Doe procedure, a proceeding similar to a federal grand
jury where information is tightly controlled.
judge in Milwaukee halted the probe in May after one of the
groups, Wisconsin Club for Growth, argued the investigation
violates its free speech rights.
prosecutors have asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
to allow them to continue the investigation. The coalition
has filed a parallel request with the appellate court asking
that it unseal hundreds of pages of documents tied to the
unsealed dozens of pages of documents revealing the nature
of the probe in June and had planned to release 34 more on
Tuesday as part of its standard operating procedures. The
court held off, though, after Wisconsin Club for Growth, two
unnamed parties who said they're also targets in the
investigation and the prosecutors filed motions seeking to
keep all or parts of the documents secret.
Wisconsin Club for Growth and the unnamed parties argue the
documents include affidavits packed with personal
information that prosecutors used to justify searches and
subpoenas and releasing them would reveal internal
strategies and damage reputations. They maintain, too, that
releasing the documents would be premature since the court
hasn't ruled on the coalition's appeal. The prosecutors,
meanwhile, contend releasing information now would
compromise the investigation if it begins again.
coalition countered in its filing that the investigation has
essentially become public and the people's interest in
disclosure outweighs any interest in continued secrecy.
unclear when the court may make a decision.