Is The Never-Ending John Doe Investigation Going Completely Off The Rails

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Is The Never-Ending John Doe Investigation Going Completely Off The Rails

CREATED Aug 16, 2012

It seems like the seemingly never-ending, leaky on-going investigation into Scott Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive might be going completely off the rails.

The headline in Thursday's local newspaper reads: "Ongoing John Doe probe of Walker's aides reaches state level". Maybe, maybe not!

According to the story, one of the prosecutors involved in the John Doe investigation has made an open records request seeking information related to all "professional staff" hired by Scott Walker since he became Governor.  The implication of the headline is that the investigation may now be reaching beyond Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive.

Maybe.

However, it could also be evidence of a fishing expedition from a prosecutor whose investigation is going completely off the rails.

Frankly, this story is strange in many regards.

First, information sought by the John Doe probe has typically been obtained through the subpoena process.  The information sought from the State came through an Open Records request.  This raises the question of why prosecutors bypassed the subpoena process (and presumably the supervising judge)?

What's even stranger though is the way this request was made.

According to the story, prosecutor David Robles did not make this Open Records request on official Milwaukee County district attorney's office letterhead.  He also did not provide his job title when seeking the information.  While listing his work address and phone numbers on the letters, he also referenced "what appears to be a private email account".

Also, if you're not going to use a subpoena, why would a prosecutor make an Open Records personally?  Isn't that what investigators are for?

So, is this request really part of the ongoing John Doe investigation or are prosecutors going rogue? Inquiring minds want to know?

During my years in the United States Attorney's Office, I supervised lots of criminal investigations. I can't think of a single instance where I sent correspondence related to an official investigation on anything other than official letterhead.  I also can't imagine why a prosecutor would reference a private email account when making inquiries about an official investigation?  If this is true, it's like having information related to an official investigation sent to your home!

Keep in mind that this is the same investigator who apparently personally ordered the arrest of a witness after the witness allegedly refused to "adopt the prosecution's version of events".  This led to DA's Office subsequently publicly clearing the witness of wrongdoing - a virtually unprecedented occurrence.   

Perhaps after two plus years, the investigation into Scott Walker is indeed following him to Madison.  On the other hand, perhaps this is evidence of a floundering prosecution that's starting to cut corners while grasping for straws?

Regardless, this story seems to raise more questions than it answers.

And a lot of those smaller questions can be summed up in two larger question, namely, "What's going on in John Chisholm's Office" and "How much longer will Chisholm allow the John Doe probe to drag on?"