State prosecutors allege Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate fundraising with outside conservative groups during his recall election campaign, according to documents released Thursday.
The documents were released by a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth that attempted to shut down the investigation.
One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012, as Walker was facing a recall election.
Prosecutors say Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him discussed illegally coordinating fundraising efforts with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove, who was a top official in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Wisconsin law prohibits explicit coordination between political campaigns and outside groups.
The prosecutors allege that Walker and two of his top deputies — R.J. Johnson and Deborah Jordahl — were involved in a “criminal scheme” to coordinate funding with 12 outside conservative groups leading up to the 2012 recall election.
One document shows an email exchange between Walker and Rove, in which Walker tells Rove that Johnson would take the lead in coordinating with the outside groups.
"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker said in the email.
The documents, released by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, came out as part of a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of Walker’s most prominent backers. Leaders from the group said the investigation into Walker’s dealings with outside groups violated their First Amendment rights. That convinced a district judge to halt the investigation for the time being while an appeals court reviews it.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press