Wisconsin conservatives who backed Gov. Scott Walker in his budgetary battles against public employee unions have filed a lawsuit challenging the actions of prosecutors in Milwaukee. Activists with the Wisconsin Club for Growth claim they were harassed and victimized by prosecutors who abused their position to orchestrate a legal assault on conservatives, according to the suit.
“This secret investigation and gag order on conservative activists is intended to stop their political successes in Wisconsin,” Eric O’Keefe, director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, said in a statement. “The state cannot be allowed to silence political speech it does not like.”
The complaint, which is available here, is worth reviewing as it details a series of “John Doe” investigations that targeted Club members and other conservative activists. If the charges can be substantiated, and it seems there is a lot of fire to the smoke based on the filings, then it means that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his staff have spent the past four years pursuing Walker’s supporters in violation of their First Amendment rights.
David B. Rivken Jr., a partner in BakerHostetler, filed the suit on behalf of the Club. Conservative support for Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill,” raised the ire of the prosecutor’s office, the suit claims.
“The First Amendment means that government officials cannot single out citizens for threats and abuse based on their political speech,” Rivken has said. “Our goal is to ensure that Wisconsinites of every political stripe can once again speak freely without fear of retribution by prosecutors wielding a political agenda.”
In addition to monetary damages, the suit also asks the United States Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to impose an injunction against John Doe investigations.