Gov. Walker’s Aide Sues Over DA’s Investigation

     MILWAUKEE (CN) – Political opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker orchestrated a campaign of harassment, intimidation and humiliation against one of his top aides, she claims in court.
     Cynthia “Cindy” Archer, one of the architects of the controversial Act 10 legislation limiting the power of public-sector unions, filed the suit Wednesday against Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his staffers, alleging free-speech retaliation and political action taken under color of criminal law.
     “Because of her association with Walker and her support of his policies, defendants targeted Archer for investigation, seized her professional and personal email communications, staged a raid at her Madison home, directly or indirectly leaked this event to reporters, and interrogated her at least seven times in Madison and Milwaukee,” the complaint in Milwaukee County Circuit Court alleges.
     Chisholm, a Democrat who campaigned for Walker’s opponent in his first and subsequent recall election, told staff it was his “duty” to “stop” Walker’s union legislation, the complaint states.
     He did so by targeting Archer, whom Walker appointed as deputy secretary of administration upon his 2010 election, and others as part of an overbroad John Doe secret investigation, the complaint states.
     Archer says her position made her the “point person” for questions and complaints related to Act 10.
     “During the political upheaval surrounding Act 10, including in 2011 and 2012, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office became a hotbed of pro-union, anti-Act 10, and anti-Walker activity,” the complaint states, attributing these developments to the “direct financial impact” the laws would have on assistant district attorneys and on Chisholm’s wife, a public school teacher.
     Chisholm threatened to terminate a staffer in the event he supported a conservative justice running for the Supreme Court, Archer claims, and other staffers knew the way to get ahead was to “use their power as prosecutors and investigators” to boost Chisholm and harm Walker politically.
     Archer was allegedly targeted in her home in September 2011, when law-enforcement officers in the first secret John Doe investigation knocked loudly on her door at dawn. Still in bed and while her partner showered, Archer says she saw a battering ram on the front lawn from her bedroom window.
     “Alarmed and believing the team would burst through immediately, Archer ran downstairs without dressing, and the investigators saw her naked through the glass on the front door,” the complaint states.
     Following the officers’ command, Archer says she dressed and opened the door. The officers allegedly threw the warrant at her as they entered, guns drawn though neither of the house’s occupants were armed.
     “Even after Archer informed them that her partner was in the shower, they entered the bathroom where Archer’s partner was clearly visible through the full-length clear glass door of the shower,” the complaint states. “They had no reason to believe evidence relevant to their pretextual purposes was in the bathroom while Archer’s partner was showering.”
     She says the officers questioned her without reading the Miranda warning, and rifled through her late mother’s belongings and other items which they had no reason to believe contained evidence.
     “Because of the reporters outside, the news spread immediately on the internet,” the complaint states. “This was the natural and probable consequence of [the] defendants’ actions, and they intended it.”
     Archer was then subject to seven interrogations in private offices without a judge present, she claims, during which investigators intimidated and tried to trick her into giving harmful information about Walker which she did not have.
     “Once Walker won the recall election, the inquiries related to Archer ceased. No one was charged in connection with any of them,” the complaint states. “This further demonstrates that Archer was targeted for political reasons, and not for any legitimate law-enforcement purpose.”
     Contrary to what had been reported in the news, Chisholm’s office refused to release a statement clarifying that Archer had not been criminally charged, according to the complaint.
     “Archer’s house was egged,” the action states. “She was harassed at the grocery store. She was yelled at by passers-by in her neighborhood. Her car was defaced, her family relationships were strained, and she lost long-term friendships.”
     Claiming that she suffered such harassment as recently as May 2015, Archer says she is now forced to work in a private capacity roles, giving others credit for her achievements so as not to face retaliation based on her reputation.
     She allegedly spent a week in the hospital for depression and thoughts of suicide.
     Archer wrote in the Wall Street Journal that she was filing the lawsuit against Chisholm and his staff “after much soul-searching.”
     “I fear his retaliation, given what I know of his methods, but the Chisholm campaign against me that began at dawn on Sept. 14, 2011, requires a legal response to discourage the prosecutor’s continued abuse of his office,” she wrote.
     In addition to First Amendment retaliation, Archer alleges unreasonable search and seizure and due process charges. Her case has been assigned to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Van Grunsven.
     Archer is represented by lead counsel Krista Baisch with Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger.
     Predicting that the defendants will first try to have the case dismissed and lose, co-counsel David Rivkin Jr. with Washington, D.C.-based Baker & Hostetler, said he hopes for a settlement.
     “This is not only about making her whole and restoring her reputation, it’s also about deterrents,” Rivkin said in an interview. “She feels very strongly that having gone through this horrible experience she wants to make sure that nobody else is in that position.”
     That, Rivkin said, is why they are pursuing personal liability against Chisholm, the two attorneys and the two investigators. “It cuts deeper,” the attorney added.
     The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office may be releasing a statement, but Chisholm was unavailable immediately to comment directly.