Monday, April 20, 2015

Wisconsin's Organized Lawfare Raids

Wisconsin, the cradle of progressive politics, has lessons to teach us all about the horrors of the merger of state and unions.  Ed Morrisey at Hot Air summarizes the story, with links to David French's in-depth report of the terror of Wisconsin’s “John Doe” raids in a new report for National Review (you should RTWT):
Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.

She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.
“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”
Others noted by David French in that National Review article also participated in conservative politics and policy development, all of whom got raided in exactly the same manner — warned not to talk about it, warned not to get a lawyer, all while the government confiscated their papers and computers.  How can this be legal?

How does something like this start?  Politics.  How else?
In 2009, officials from the office of the Milwaukee County executive contacted the office of the Milwaukee district attorney, headed by John Chisholm, to investigate the disappearance of $11,242.24 from the Milwaukee chapter of the Order of the Purple Heart. The matter was routine, with witnesses willing and able to testify against the principal suspect, a man named Kevin Kavanaugh.

What followed, however, was anything but routine. Chisholm failed to act promptly on the report, and when he did act, he refused to conduct a conventional criminal investigation but instead petitioned, in May 2010, to open a “John Doe” investigation, a proceeding under Wisconsin law that permits Wisconsin officials to conduct extensive investigations while keeping the target’s identity secret (hence the designation “John Doe”).

John Doe investigations alter typical criminal procedure in two important ways: First, they remove grand juries from the investigative process, replacing the ordinary citizens of a grand jury with a supervising judge. Second, they can include strict secrecy requirements not just on the prosecution but also on the targets of the investigation...

Why would Chisholm seek such broad powers to investigate a year-old embezzlement claim with a known suspect? Because the Milwaukee County executive, Scott Walker, had by that time become the leading Republican candidate for governor. District Attorney Chisholm was a Democrat, a very partisan Democrat.
Of course, this was the point: to intimidate conservatives into not speaking, not organizing into a real political movement.  Wisconsin Club for Growth head Eric O'Keefe found that affiliates were cancelling meetings and refusing to talk with him.  They understandably thought being affiliated with someone who had gone through such investigation might lead to getting the early morning battering ram raids themselves.  O'Keefe had to abandon fundraising for the Club because he could no longer guarantee to donors that their identities would remain confidential, could not (due to the Secrecy Order) explain to potential donors the nature of the investigation, could not assuage donors’ fears that they might become targets themselves, and could not assure donors that their money would go to fund advocacy rather than legal expenses. As O'Keefe later said, "The process is the punishment".
In international law, the Western world has become familiar with a concept called “lawfare,” a process whereby rogue regimes or organizations abuse legal doctrines and processes to accomplish through sheer harassment and attrition what can’t be accomplished through legitimate diplomatic means. The Palestinian Authority and its defenders have become adept at lawfare, putting Israel under increasing pressure before the U.N. and other international bodies.

The John Doe investigations are a form of domestic lawfare, and our constitutional system is ill equipped to handle it. 
In the coming days, thanks to the gyrocopter idiot, you'll be hearing a lot of talk about campaign finance.  I've written many times that I think the role of money in politics is overblown: it's an easy excuse for rotten campaign managers or rotten candidates and we routinely see the underfunded candidate win.  The counter to that is the argument that big money controls everything.  I've already heard the arguments that Hildebeest has got "2.5 billion dollars" and will win.  The basis for the horrors people went through was the idea that money in politics is a greater evil than a government empowered to shut down political speech. 

The John Doe law in Wisconsin shows exactly why government intervention in political speech is worse than any corruption it attempts to prevent. The use of force in Wisconsin got applied to one side exclusively, and intended to shut down conservatives before they could exercise their legitimate political power. It’s even more egregious than the IRS targeting of conservatives between 2009-2013, but it’s the same kind of abuse of power, and it leverages the same kind of campaign-finance reform statutes that give government at state and federal levels entrée to control political speech.
(generic stock-ish photo of police seizing computers, as happened to so many conservatives in Wisconsin - from


  1. As it did at the birth of this nation, a citizenry which finds itself with no legal recourse will resort to resistance, to include retaliation upon those who have backed them into a corner.

    Admittedly, the citizens of the 1770's may have been made of sterner stuff than the metrosexuals and such of the present day, but there are enough of us who do recall what it was like to live without this kind of abuse that at some point there will be a "Sipsey Street" response.

    As many have said, our Founding Fathers would already be shooting. Tar and feathering may have gone out of vogue, but imaginative minds can certainly come up with a 21st century replacement.

    As a former cop, and having known many good cops back forty years ago, I have to agree with Mark Matis that law enforcement agencies of today have been selecting for the shaven-headed, finger-less-glove wearing Enforcers who are willing to abuse their authority in the performance of their "DUTY". In-duh-viduals who don't think to question the appropriateness of their use to enforce bogus laws at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats who engage in "lawfare".

    U.S. Attorneys have used lawfare as a means to attack and damage citizens they dislike for many years now, not simply since the advent of asset forfeiture (another lovely result of the obscene "War On [Some] Drugs), but in what are usually successful attempts to punish and pauperize anyone that catches their fancy, or to make a name for themselves in order to advance their careers through prosecution of innocent people who can't fight back (like David Olofson).

    Please understand, folks - when push finally comes to shove, as it did back in the late 1700's - as necessary as it will be to correct the misconception of many LEOs as to how far their authority _actually_ extends, it is even more necessary to go after those who "sic" those dogs onto their innocent victims. The county prosecutors, tame/bought judges (who enjoy legislating through their judicial decisions, and forcing juries to convict by convincing them they must follow their improper directions), and - let us not forget - the US Attorneys who see us citizens as serfs to be used and abused at their whim - sometimes to aggrandize themselves, and sometimes for the sheer thrill of utilizing their power over us.

    There is nothing in Mike Vanderboegh's story of Sipsey Street that is not attainable by most of us who exist in the "culture" of the Second and Fourth Amendments, with a bit of imagination and the aid of an Internet article or two.

    Lawfare such as addressed here in SiG's post reminds me of that quote - was it really by JFK? - about how removing the possibility of justice through impartial courts makes revolution inevitable. It may still require that long train of abuses to continue before it happens, but it _does_ appear inevitable if things go on in this way.

  2. The missing part of the story is: Is John Chisholm and his cohorts in jail or at least waiting trial on multiple serious felonies??? If not my reply to the author is don't even waste my time with this story. These people belong in jail and telling tales about them simply doesn't get it done. If the Republicans/conservatives of Wisconsin have not put 100% of their effort into sending these people to jail then they indeed deserve what they get/got.

  3. Anon,

    That all goes back to expecting the judicial system to work as the rule of law. If the system has failed - which is pretty obvious - then expecting the corrupt in Wisconsin to be jailed is as senseless as expecting Obama or the Hillbeast to be jailed for their crimes.

  4. If we can jail fathers who miss child support payments then we can jail prosecutors who use their power in an anti-constitutional way to exact revenge against one party of a two party system. If we do not, and I suspect we won't, then this will happen again and again and again...
    If I had been one of these victimsI would have shouted it from the rooftops, write a book about it, told my story in letters to the editor sent to every newspaper in the state, written a letter to every state and federal lawmaker describing exactly what was going on. I would have defied the order to keep quiet and dared them to extradite me if they could find me. I would have been more then a thorn in their side I would have been the entire thicket. I would declare whistleblower status. I would make that prosecutor wish he had never heard my name.

  5. For the record, the judge who approved virtually all of these warrants was Barbara Kluka.

    She got cold feet when people started to notice this, a sure sign of "mens rea" - she knew she was doing wrong.

    She should be behind bars. The law allowing this should be struck from the books.