Leaked documents show pervasive influence of money in Wisconsin politics
Documents leaked to the Guardian comprising 1,500 pages collected as part of a probe, the John Doe files, were evidence gathered by prosecutors to show alleged irregularities in political fundraising.
|The documents point towards the pervasive influence of cash, corporate and otherwise, in the political process in Wisconsin. However the Wisconsin Supreme Court last year found that the documents do not show that anything illegal was done:|
On July 16, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4–2 that Walker did not illegally collaborate with conservative groups during the recall campaigns. Writing for the majority in the case, Justice Michael Gableman stated: “To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law,” he said, “Consequently, the investigation is closed.”
The files open a window on a world that is very rarely glimpsed by the public, in which millions of dollars are secretly donated by major corporations and super-wealthy individuals to third-party groups in an attempt to sway elections. They speak to a visceral theme of the 2016 presidential cycle: the distortion of American democracy by big business that has been slammed by both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Shortly after his inauguration in 2011, Walker introduced a budget plan which limited the collective bargaining of most Wisconsin public employees. The response to Walker's policies included protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol and an effort to recall Walker. In the 2012 recall election, Walker again defeated Barrett, becoming the first American governor to survive a recall effort. In 2014, Walker defeated his Democratic challenger, businesswoman and Madison school board member Mary Burke. Walker was a candidate for his party's nomination to the 2016 presidential election.