Friday, June 20, 2014

Crime and politics

I have a column up on the unbearable lightness of the John Doe here.

Yesterday afternoon I returned to Milwaukee and as soon as I hit the ground noted e-mails about a Journal Sentinel story saying that prosecutors had alleged that Scott Walker was at the center of a criminal scheme.

What happened?

Nothing. All we had was the release of old documents including a brief in which prosecutors tried to defend their investigation. They were not, strictly speaking, alleging anything but saying that they had reason to believe that conduct had occurred that might be a crime and that justified an unprecedented raid on a host of conservative groups.

But maybe that's just semantics. The larger problem is that two judges have said that the "criminal scheme" that the prosecutors think may have occurred is no crime at all. A very recent decision of the Seventh Circuit - while not directly addressing the question - seems to me to suggest that they were right. As George Mitchell says, to announce the prosecutors' plan to get Scott Walker has now been "unsealed" and alleges a criminal scheme is a bit like announcing that we have unsealed Dom Capers great plan to contain Colin Kaepernick - after Kaepernick has run right through that plan three times.

It is,of course, possible that Judges Randa and Peterson will turn out to be wrong and that my reading of the Seventh Circuit's recent decision won't go as far as I think it may, but - for right now - it doesn't seem all that likely that any prosecutors will ever actually be alleging any criminal scheme.

This is incredibly complex stuff resting on concepts like "express" and "issue advocacy," "political purpose" and "coordination" that have a technical purpose and, at least at various points in time, an indefinite meaning. We can debate what those ought to mean. But the real abuse here may have been to take a real difference of opinion here about where the lines are regarding the financing of political speech and criminalizing it.

I get that knowing violations of the campaign finance laws are crimes but, when we are talking about constitutionally protected activity, very clear restrictions are absolutely essential. For example, the e-mail from Scott Walker to Karl Rove could not have reflected coordination between candidate Walker and the independent groups. It was written in 2011 and referred to Senate recalls, not any race in which Walker was a candiate. The argument that Walker wanted these candidates to win so that what helped them could be considered a contribution to him is truly unprecedented.

How you feel about that should not turn on whether you like Scott Walker or not. What the Democrats - and this was started by Democrats - tried to do to Walker could just as easily be done by a Republican DA to a Democratic elected official. Politics ain't bean bag, to be sure, but it also shouldn't be waged by armed people in windbreakers.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin


30 comments:

Anonymous said...

A couple of things have occurred over the past week which are worth noting:

1. The Governor has admitted the conduct which occurred. This is a significant departure from his past pronouncements.

2. The Governor admits that the conduct violates the statutes. Again, this is newsworthy.

Herr Professor and the Governor argue that the law is unconstitutional, which forgives the conduct.

John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

Once again, the anony impersonator who has a significant mental deficiency is ruining a blog.

John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

Professor, are you even paying attention to this filth?

Again, all you have to do is match my IP with my stalker's IP at 12:18 p.m. and 10:47 a.m. It is really sickening to have someone out there who has nothing better to do than soil and defile blogs.

Dad29 had the same issue.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is stalking you. Leave.

John Mitchell said...

"Nobody is stalking you. Leave."

(Laughs) Anony is also the same "person" who poses as me. Check the IP addresses.

They must have a ton of free time, along with a knack for being juvenile, for harassing me simply because I am executing my First Amendment rights and offering positions that may run counter to those who post here.

Why do despise yourself?

Anonymous said...

You can leave. Nobody cares what you think. In fact, it's funny how you hijacked a name here and someone else is making you look like a complete asshole.

John Mitchell said...
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Anonymous said...

Real class act, John. Take a permanent hike.

Anonymous said...
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John Mitchell said...

From 1:47 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., my stalker creates a "conversation". Exactly the same conduct this "person" engaged in on Dad29.


"Either monitor the contents and select a few that actually are germane and contribute to the discussion, like newspapers..."

Speak to Mr. Esenberg directly if he ever decides to check IP's and have the evidence necessary to remove the offenders.


"The above is as unappetizing a series of posts as I've ever seen."

That's rich coming from my stalker. Again, professor, check the IP addresses.

John Mitchell said...

The John Mitchell at 3:55 PM is a fraud and a stalker. He did not post first on this thread. He has bragged about his behavior on a number of sites.

John Mitchell said...

Once again my deranged anony poses as me at 4:15 p.m. The madness continues...

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares. Please leave.

John Mitchell said...

"Nobody cares. Please leave."

Obviously, you do care. Am I going anywhere? No, I have free speech rights. And I have a duty to confront your fascist behavior.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares about the playground taunts of you two. Your hijacking this board is not free speech.

Both of you, take a hike.

Anonymous said...

And if you think you have free speech rights on a Google hosted site, you are a far bigger idiot than I originally thought.

John Mitchell said...

Until the professor clamps down on his blog to remove stalker anonys, we have free speech rights on the site. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Clearly you have no clue on the First Amendment.

John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

My deranged anony friend has a fetish, the same one at Dad29. Please seek professional help. Or discuss your problem with a priest, rabbi, or minister.

John Mitchell said...

My deranged Anony friend posts non-sensible shit under the names John Mitchell and George Mitchell.

The perfesser would serve best by banning comments altogether.

John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

I didn't realize the extent of your depravity, deranged stalker. Posing as me, then as anony, then linking my name to sites deemed distasteful.

All the professor has to do is check IP addresses. Apparently, he doesn't care that his blog has been infected and infested by someone who clearly needs counseling.

John Mitchell said...

And Professor would heed kindly that the deranged anony stalker is bragging of his exploits on Twitter -- http://bit.ly/1iuZWoy

John Mitchell said...
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John Mitchell said...

Like clockwork, my deranged anony stalker strikes again. Thanks for ruining a fine blog!

John Mitchell said...

Maybe the professor endorses piss porn, but it's unethical. Perhaps he should take action against my deranged anony stalker, who brags about ruining blogs.

John Mitchell said...

Deranged anony who poses as me, you really need to seek help. Cheers!