Friday was a surreal day in Wisconsin politics. It began with the announcement that the nearly three-year long John Doe investigation of Scott Walker’s administration was finally over. It ended with state Democratic spokescreep Graeme Zielinski comparing Walker to mass-murderer Jeffery Dahmer.
But in between, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) suggested Gov. Walker apologize for the John Doe.
"I don’t think there was anything political about (the John Doe) at all; this was a criminal investigation with six people prosecuted for serious violations to the taxpayers and veterans of one particular post," Barca said. "However, this state has a reputation of clean, open and honest government and at this point it would be wise for the governor to release a statement to apologize, because it was under his watch that he hired these people, he supervised these people and it was under his watch that the taxpayers and these veterans were cheated. "
Apologize? Apologize for what? It was Walker whose Administration called for the investigation in the first place when they noticed there were discrepancies in the funds of the Operation Freedom organization.
The individuals who were found guilty of infractions as minor as posting campaign-related comments online using government computers to more serious crimes like the embezzlement of funds intended for veterans are all adults who knew the rules and knew they were doing something wrong. Plus they are all serving time or paying penalties for their crimes.
Instead of looking for apologies from Scott Walker, maybe the following individuals should apologize to Walker and the public.
Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and his office for leaking like a sieve for the past 24 months, making the secret John Doe probe the worst kept secret in the world and in the process causing irreparable damage to the reputations of Walker and many aides and associates who did nothing illegal.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairbaby Mike Tate and his sidekick Zielinski for ramping up the rhetoric against Walker and turning this into a political witch hunt. Comments such as, "Scott Walker will see the inside of a prison cell before seeing another term as Governor," during the recall election were over the top and disrespectful to both Walker and the office itself.
How about an apology from the traditional media across the state for ginning up the lynch mob that occupied (and in some cases, still occupies) the Capitol for months and for breathlessly printing every leak that came out of Chisholm’s office (see above) as fact?
And finally an apology from the judge, Neal Nettesheim, who allowed this witch hunt to drag on, did nothing to stop the leaking, quietly signed the order closing the investigation, and then kept the information from the probe sealed. This information should be unsealed so everything can be known and the cloud of suspicion can be permanently lifted from Walker’s shoulders.
No matter what happens, Walker summed it up best in his statement following the end of the investigation:
"I am glad the process has been completed," Walker said in a statement. "As many may remember, this entire matter began when we asked the District Attorney to lookin to concerns we had with respect to Operation Freedom. We appreciate the effort that was undertaken and to bring appropriate matters to justice."
If only we could all be so gracious following this nearly three-year drubbing.
Patti Breitigam-Wenzel is a frequent caller to Charlie Sykes' Midday radio show (Patti from West Allis) and is a veteran Wisconsin journalist who blogs at GovFreak.