Scott Walker Was Allegedly at the Center of a Criminal Scheme

Newly released documents from an investigation show the Wisconsin governor and potential presidential candidate tried to evade campaign laws.

National Journal

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker allegedly was at the center of a criminal scheme to illegally coordinate fundraising with conservative groups and his recall-election campaign, according to newly released documents from a Wisconsin investigation.

Prosecutors allege that Walker, his chief of staff, and others on his campaign tried to bypass state election laws by working with 12 national conservative groups to raise money for his election effort in 2011 and 2012.

Charges, however, have not been filed against Walker or any member of his staff.

The investigation found an email from May 4, 2011, between Walker and former Bush adviser Karl Rove, in which Walker says that one of his top deputies, R.J. Johnson, would lead the coordination effort.

Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities).

The documents come from part of  a "John Doe" investigation — called that because it is conducted in private and is sealed from the public. A federal judge unsealed the investigation Thursday.

The investigation has been a thorn in the side of Walker in the past several years, especially after investigators released emails from Walker aides recently showing racist and homophobic jokes.

Democrats in Wisconsin are convinced that Walker wants to run for president in 2016, and that he has the skills to do so. As National Journal's Tim Alberta writes in a new profile, Walker's an unlikely character for the job.

Walker doesn't seem like a man who is likely to be elected governor this November for the third time in four years — let alone one who is considered a top-tier contender for the Republican presidential nomination. He's not a scholarly policy wonk like Bobby Jindal. He doesn't have the dynastic resources of Jeb Bush or Rand Paul. He isn't a skillful orator like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Nor is he a commanding, charismatic presence like his friend Chris Christie. He is, in fact, more like a reverse Christie: The New Jersey governor is belligerent on the outside and moderate on the inside; Walker is a rock-ribbed conservative in a genial, unexceptional package.


Being a pleasant guy — agreeable, inoffensive — isn't an obvious political strength, but it has been one for Walker. His soft-spoken nature and his humdrum personal style have led his opponents repeatedly to underestimate his ambition, his determination, and his strategic skill. ...Walker's innocuous bearing has allowed him to move calmly toward his prey without startling it.

But now, like Christie, he's finding himself at the center of a scandal that could shatter his hopes for the presidency.