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 Jones‘ explanation 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.