Investigative Series: Who’s the Man Behind the Witch Hunt?

This is the second part in our ongoing investigative series examining alleged cases of political persecution in Wisconsin. The first part can be seen here.

John Chisholm, a Milwaukee district attorney, was the first to open up a John Doe investigation in Wisconsin. When first contacted, the DA was asked to investigate the disappearance of more than $11,000 from the local chapter of the Order of the Purple Heart, something the National Review referred to as a “routine” matter with cooperating witnesses.

Why? The County Executive at the time of the alleged embezzlement had been Scott Walker.

What came next would set in motion a terrifying display of prosecutorial power used to punish conservative colleagues of the governor.

What followed, however, was anything but routine. Chisholm failed to act promptly on the report, and when he did act, he refused to conduct a conventional criminal investigation but instead petitioned, in May 2010, to open a “John Doe” investigation, a proceeding under Wisconsin law that permits Wisconsin officials to conduct extensive investigations while keeping the target’s identity secret (hence the designation “John Doe”).

What Chisholm had set in motion was a legal loophole of sorts, exploiting campaign-finance reform law in a manner that allowed officials to keep their conservative targets secret, and compel them to remain silent about their rights being violated. It gave the DA broad power which was subsequently abused in obscene measures.

The prosecutions led to investigators swiping personal e-mail accounts, issuing wide-ranging subpoenas, and harassing donors to conservative groups.

Chisholm didn’t stop there. Court filings indicate that Walker’s offices were raided within a week, and the “investigation of all-things-Walker expanded to include everything from alleged campaign-finance violations to sexual misconduct to alleged public contracting bid-rigging to alleged misuse of county time and property.”

Still, what would drive a District Attorney to be so obsessed with taking down Republicans that he’d be willing to abuse the legal authority to do so?

The initial National Review report labelled Chisholm as “a Democrat, a very partisan Democrat.” Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry also hinted at the DAs motivation, calling him “a partisan Democrat whose wife was a shop steward for a teachers union.” Wisconsin Watchdog alludes to the same, pointing out that Chisholm “is a Democrat and the targets of the simultaneous paramilitary-style raids were all conservatives.”

Additionally, a former Wisconsin police officer told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, that Chisholm himself said these were politically motivated actions.

Watch, via The Right Scoop:

The police officer stated that in a personal conversation, Chisholm told him it was his “personal responsibility to stop Governor Walker and all Republicans.”

Meanwhile, Lowry describes the attempted silencing of conservatives by Chisholm, “for exercising their First Amendment rights, some targets were denied their First Amendment rights.”

The District Attorney continues to trample the First Amendment as Wisconsin Watchdog reports:

John Chisholm has long been accused of not understanding or valuing the First Amendment. This past weekend, he went about proving that criticism, constitutional law experts say.

The partisan Milwaukee County  District Attorney who brought Wisconsin the political John Doe probes into conservative organizations is threatening Gov. Scott Walker to keep his mouth shut.

After making a minor comment about how these cases should be frightening to everyone on both sides of the political aisle, Governor Walker was threatened by Chisholm with possible libel litigation. To which one law professor claimed, “There is no justification for a prosecutor to do this.”

Constitutional law expert Rick Esenberg added “when you are a prosecutor you can’t threaten to punish people for their political speech.”

With multiple conservatives reporting that Chisholm had attacked them in very similar manners – “early-morning intrusions, police rushing through the house, and stern commands to remain silent and tell no one about what had occurred” – it would seem the Democrat wholeheartedly disagrees with that assessment.

As another legal expert explains, “It’s like the First Amendment is something John Chisholm has never heard of.”

Stay tuned for more in our investigative series examining, Is There a Frightening Political Witch Hunt Going on in Wisconsin?


Rusty Weiss has been covering politics for over 15 years. His writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, Fox... More about Rusty Weiss

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