Victory for Prosecutors on Campaign-Finance Raid

     MILWAUKEE (CN) — Clashing with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a federal judge threw out claims by a conservative official whose home was searched amid a campaign-finance investigation.
     Cynthia “Cindy” Archer filed suit last year over an early-morning search of her home in 2011 stemming from Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s second John Doe investigation into campaign-finance crimes.
     Investigators had been searching for evidence that Gov. Scott Walker and his team illegally coordinated with outside special interest groups for the 2012 gubernatorial election. Walker had been Milwaukee county executive at the time, and Archer worked as one of his aids.
     She claimed her ordeal was part of a politically motivated campaign of harassment Chisholm orchestrated against Walker and his staff over the controversial Act 10 legislation that limited the power of public-employee unions.
     While Archer initially claimed that investigators ransacked her home, and threw the warrant at her without reading it, audio of the raid has contradicted this story, prompting her to leave some claims out of her amended complaint.
     It captures an investigator letting Archer have coffee and a cigarette during the search, after he has read her the warrant and her Miranda rights.
     U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman dismissed the case against prosecutors Thursday and granted the investigators judgment on the pleadings.
     Adelman is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, making his decision a fitting one for a battle drawn on heavily partisan lines.
     In addition to controlling the governor’s office and both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature, Republicans also dominate the state Supreme Court, which found the John Doe investigations unconstitutional and ordered the Democratic Chisolm to have all 6 million documents obtained from the John Doe investigations destroyed or brought to the high court under seal.
     The prosecutors have since asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that decision, which Adelman said “overturned years of precedent and practice in Wisconsin” regarding campaign finance laws.
     Noting that his decision will “no doubt be appealed,” Adelman said he will let Chisolm’s office continue to access the sealed documents through the federal clerk’s office.
     Archer’s attorney, David Rivkin of BakerHostetler in Washington, confirmed that an appeal is in the works
     “The district court’s decision is wrong on the facts and the law, and we are confident that it will be reversed on appeal,” Rivkin said in an email. “Cindy Archer deserves justice, and we will continue to fight against government officials who abuse their power for political ends.”
     Adelman said the defendants are protected by absolute and qualified immunity, concluding the search warrants were properly issued by a neutral judge and carried out in accordance with the law.
     The judge said Archer also does not have a protected-speech retaliation case since her advocacy for 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, Walker’s signature anti-union legislation, was done as part of her job and not as a private citizen.
     Adelman took the plaintiffs and other state conservative allies to task for their attempts to halt and hinder the investigation, which he said is a valid function of the District Attorney’s Office.
     Indeed, John Doe I resulted in six criminal convictions, which led to the John Doe II investigation, he wrote.
     “The subjects of the investigation, however, had significant resources and were willing to bring numerous lawsuits in an attempt to shut the investigation down,” Adelman said. “It is not an overstatement to say that the opponents of the investigation made it very difficult for the defendants to proceed.”
     Adelman’s decision makes the defendants’ case somewhat easier, in that it preserves their access to documents they possess but that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered destroyed or filed under seal with them.
     The Supreme Court has since modified these orders, Adelman wrote, but left questions unanswered and denied past attempts to access the documents for use in separate cases against the defendants.
     “Based on the court’s unwillingness to address the issue of access to documents in any meaningful way, it is entirely possible that once the defendants turn over the materials, they could permanently lose the chance to access them for use in this litigation,” Adelman said.
     The defendants may file the documents under seal with the federal clerk, the order states, and they will be destroyed when this case has concluded.
     Hinshaw & Culbertson, a firm with four attorneys representing the defendants, has not returned a voicemail seeking comment.

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