The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday issued a court order [text, PDF] ending an investigation into the 2012 campaign of Governor Scott Walker [official website].The investigation, which was initiated by Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm [official profile], was probing whether the recall campaign had illegally coordinated with conservative fundraising groups. The court ruled that the governor’s campaign and its associated conservative groups did not violate vague state campaign finance laws. Justice Michael Gableman wrote for the majority, “It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.” The end of the investigation eliminates a major cloud looming over Walker’s 2016 presidential bid. The ruling could also affect how state campaigns are run in the future, as it makes clear campaigns can work closely with outside groups while channeling money without disclosing donor identities.
Governor Walker has been attracting more attention over recent years leading up his announcement to run for president this year. In June Walker signed two bills [JURIST report] loosening Wisconsin’s gun laws. The bills eliminate Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for purchasing a handgun and allow off duty, retired and out-of-state police officers to carry firearms on school grounds. In March the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and two local labor unions filed the first lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the state’s newly enacted “right to work” law. The law was signed [JURIST report] earlier that week by Walker. In August 2014 the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a pair of rulings [JURIST report] limiting the ability of public sector employees to unionize and requiring voters to present identification. The law, known as Act 10 and passed in 2011, was backed by Governor Walker.