Supreme Court Won’t Reopen Investigation Into Wisconsin Governor

The criminal campaign finance investigation of Scott Walker is officially over.

Dennis Van Tine/Sipa/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The US Supreme Court on Monday officially put an end to any possibility that Wisconsin could reopen an investigation into criminal campaign finance allegations against Gov. Scott Walker. The court let stand a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision last year that shut down an investigation into allegations that Walker, a Republican, had illegally coordinated campaign spending with outside groups during the 2012 recall campaign against him.

The state Supreme Court stopped the investigation into the alleged violations after several conservative elected judges refused to recuse themselves from the proceedings, despite having benefited from outside election spending by many of the same groups that were accused of illegal coordination with Walker’s campaign. Prosecutors even suspected one of those judges of having committed the same illegal campaign finance violations that Walker was accused of. (Read Mother Jonesexplanation of the investigation and its causes and our examination of the conflict of interest that led to the recusal conflict.)

The prosecutors appealed the state court’s decision, arguing that those judges should have recused themselves. But on Monday, the US Supreme Court upheld the state court’s ruling. Because the US high court has just eight members following the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, it’s possible that the court deadlocked on a 4-4 vote, allowing the lower-court ruling to stand. The court did not specify the vote tally in its decision or release any explanation of its ruling.

Documents leaked this month to the Guardian gave credence to the allegations against Walker by showing him soliciting large corporate checks from conservative billionaire donors. While the Supreme Court has now prevented state prosecutors from reopening the old investigation into Walker’s campaign, state legislators have called on them to launch a new investigation based on the information in the leaked documents. So it’s possible that Monday’s Supreme Court decision may offer Walker only a temporary victory.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate