We published this piece from Wisconsin Reporter two days ago, but the rest of the media seems to be catching up. In it, reporter M. D. Kittle writes that the latest John Doe "secret probe" appears to be targeting key conservative groups and activists across the state.

Though gagged by provisions of subpoenas issued by Milwaukee County Assistant D.A. Bruce Landgraf and others, multiple sources told Wisconsin Reporter the manifold legal attack on nonprofit political organizations has included after-hours visits to homes and offices; confiscated equipment and files; and demands for phone, email and other records.

Several questions immediately come to mind:

Are we ever going to find out what the last endless secret probe into Scott Walker and his staffers cost taxpayers?  Can we expect the same flood of leaks, rumors, and innuendoes to come out of the new probe, just in time for the 2014 election?

And perhaps most important: Why are there no similar probes of liberal groups?

If there is concern that there might have been improper coordination between some of the campaigns and outside groups during the recall campaigns, why is only one party facing this sort of inquisition? There were, after all, no shortage of unions (SEIU, the Teamsters, AFSCME, etc), or other liberal groups involved (OFA comes to mind) heavily involved with state Democrats and the various Democrat recall campaigns.

But the report suggests that none of them found their way onto the Chisholm/Landgraf target list. How is this not a red flag of partisan bias?

Kittle compares the investigation of conservatives to the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. But that is child’s play compared to the new Doe.

"This is a taxpayer-funded, opposition-research campaign," one source said. "This is not a question of what conservatives did wrong. It’s a question of one party in this state using prosecutorial powers to conduct a one-sided investigation into conservatives."

Multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of their proximity to the probe or to people involved, say the D.A.’s office expanded his investigation to include such national conservative organizations as Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and the Republican Governors Association.

One source said the groups have received — or have been told they’ll receive — subpoenas issued under the state’s so-called John Doe law.

  "What I hear is that it’s all outside, independent groups being questioned about whether    they worked with campaigns," one insider told Wisconsin Reporter. "Everybody is being  sniffed into."

 Another source with knowledge of the investigation claims "investigators are spying on people and using the power of government to collect records."

At the center of this investigation we once again find prosecutor Bruce Landgraf.

Who is Landgraf? He is the DA behind the endless Inspector Javert-like probe of Scott Walker that dragged on for 3 years and became the centerpiece of the Democrat’s recall campaign.

In course of that probe, Landgraf became a walking caricature of prosecutorial abuse and over-reach, but apparently he continues to be given free rein by his bosses.

It was Landgraf who was behind the jailing of Andrew Jensen, a businessman who was locked up without any charges during the endless John Doe and later exonerated; and it was Landgraf who threatened a Harley dealer who didn’t give him what he wanted;  and it was Landgraf who orchestrated the raids of the homes of Walker aides who never ended up being charged with anything.

As I wrote here a few weeks ago, it was Landgaf who let a respected businessman twist slowly in the wind for nearly a year before admitting that he had not broken the law by sending an email to his employees critical of Obamacare.

Landgraf eventually came to the right conclusion..

But in the meantime, a local businessmen was left twisting in the wind, racking up legal bills and months of anxiety. Worst of all: for the last year, it cast a cloud over the ability of businessmen like White to engage in free speech. But perhaps that was point: it’s not necessary for someone to be charged or jailed for political thought crimes. All that’s necessary is that they think they might face criminal charges... or even a highly publicized investigation for speaking out.  That is what the Supreme Court has called a "chilling effect." 

 If our political DA’s  investigation and dilatory decision does not meet the definition of "chilling," what would?

That came before word of the latest witch hunt. It’s too early to know whether anything will come of this one, but the fact that Landgraf is on the hunt again has already had an effect.

Fear is a powerful tool. Fear of prosecution is a dangerous weapon wielded by district attorneys like Landgraf and his boss John Chisholm.  And fear has become a fixture of Wisconsin politics, especially for conservatives…. again.




Editor's note -- Full disclosure: Wisconsin Club for Growth is an advertiser on RightWisconsin.