What took place at the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump this week is outrageous. Oddly enough, it feels like — as Yogi Berra would say — deja vu all over again.
As part of two different secret John Doe investigations in 2010 and 2012, overzealous prosecutors and government bureaucrats in several different state and local agencies harassed me and many of my supporters in Wisconsin. They were aided by local officials as well as members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What began with a tip from my office while I was serving as the Milwaukee County Executive went far beyond the facts in the original request. Members of the Democrat-led District Attorney’s office quickly moved into a politically-motivated witch-hunt.
After the first John Doe investigation was shut down, a new team of local and state officials let loose on several of my supporters. The ultimate goal was simple: They wanted to take me and anyone associated with me down — despite the will of the people at the ballot box.
Information about the John Doe investigations was secret under state law. While I and other supporters could not legally talk about the case, it was amazing how many times information was leaked to the media — often at politically important times.
Multiple courts found that I and the other conservatives targeted in the Joe Doe cases were engaging in our First Amendment rights through political speech and associations.
The courts at several levels, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court, shut the sinister process down. They saw the heavy-handedness perpetrated by government agencies like the former state Government Accountability Board and the Democrat-led Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
Left-leaning prosecutors and government bureaucrats weaponized their offices in a clear and coordinated effort to silence me and other conservatives during their unconstitutional John Doe investigations. And they nearly succeeded.
While serving as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson asked FBI Director Christopher Wray about the extent of the agency’s involvement in the John Doe investigations. He received few answers.
Mr. Johnson was rightly disturbed by the process used by agents. On Oct. 3, 2013, law enforcement officers — including members of the FBI — conducted predawn, armed raids on the homes of private citizens in Wisconsin. Their supposed purpose was the pursuit of evidence of campaign finance violations.
At one home, a 16-year-old was home alone and armed agents demanded that he open the door so they could tear up his house looking through his parents’ things. He was told that he could not say anything and that he could not call his parents or an attorney.
At another home, a suburban mom heard sounds in the darkness. Moments later, her children woke up to armed deputies standing over their beds. Months later, she found out that her oldest son feared that his father had died with all of the law enforcement in their house before dawn.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the second John Doe probe was unconstitutional. They wrote that the investigation’s prosecutor instigated a “perfect storm of wrongs” on the innocent targets. Subsequently, the state legislature voted to reform the flawed John Doe law. In particular, they changed the gag orders.
Former Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel recommended that several John Doe agents be held in contempt of court. He also recommended that an attorney from the old Government Accountability Board face disciplinary charges through the state Office of Lawyer Regulation. Not a single prosecutor, investigator or leader of the now-defunct GAB ever faced disciplinary action for their involvement in this illegal investigation.
This leads us back to Mr. Johnson’s request. FBI Director Wray did not personally respond to the Senate committee chair. Instead, Jill C. Tyson, acting assistant director in the Office of Congressional Affairs, provided a two-paragraph response. Again, the FBI responded with few answers.
We see a disturbing pattern of the use of federal, state and local agencies against perceived political opponents. Federal lawmakers exposed the abuses of the Internal Revenue Service during the Obama administration. We continue to learn more about how the Clinton campaign planted the false Russian collusion story in 2016.
In contrast, where is the investigation of Hunter Biden going? The corporate media tried to sweep that under the rug before the 2020 election and Big Tech elites helped keep it off of social media — even when the oldest continuously published newspaper in the country exposed the story.
We do not know exactly what the FBI agents were looking for at Mr. Trump’s home. What we do know is that there has been a pattern of agencies, driven by entrenched federal, state and local employees, going after conservatives. As I said during a contentious interview on NBC News the other day, we see a pattern and it is disturbing to the American people. All the more reason we must stand up for liberty and justice for all.
• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.
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