The media is buzzing with the news that some unsealed documents show prosecutors accusing Governor Scott Walker of committing a crime – coordinating his re-election campaign with outside groups (one associated with Karl Rove.)
First, prosecutors always accuse…that is part of their job. To have a document say a prosecutor accuses someone means virtually nothing legally. That’s what they do, that’s the job — accuse! Prosecutors accuse someone of a crime and simultaneously investigate (or they may claim they investigate first, but I never see it that way.)
Second…as the matter now stands….there is NO CRIME for what Governor Walker is accused. A Federal Judge (Rudolph Randa) in Wisconsin ruled that the conduct Governor Scott Walker is accused of is not a crime (despite what prosecutors say in the now unsealed documents.) Judge Randa says the activity Governor Walker and others are accused of by prosecutors fits a loophole in the campaign finance law. That means no crime.
Third….the prosecutors disagree with Judge Randa (no crime) and have appealed to the US Court of Appeals in the 7th Circuit. The appellate panel will now decide: whether Judge Randa is correct in ruling that the alleged activity does not violate the law.
(Note that even if the US Court of Appeals were to rule that the prosecutor alleged conduct does violate the campaign law…there still would have to be a trial and the matter proven beyond a reasonable doubt. At that point, yes, Governor Walker would have a legal problem. )
So…bottom line: right now the Governor does not have a legal problem (Judge Randa’s opinion holds now) but he does have a BIG political problem since every newspaper and media outlet in the country is running with the headline: prosecutors accused Governor Walker of committing a crime…but of course the media does not add that right now – pursuant to a Federal Court’s ruling – there is no crime. In other words Governor Walker is being accused of conduct that is not a crime…and that’s a bit weird. But…it is something his political opponents will smear him with…and that is why it is political.
One other thing worth noting….many people (political opponents of Gov Walker) are accusing the Judge of bias in favor of Governor Scott Walker. I have not dug into this topic to have a thought either way.