By Todd Richmond
Madison — A conservative group has filed a motion asking a federal appeals court not to release nine documents linked to a secret investigation of possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and right-leaning organizations.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the targets of the investigation, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the investigation. A judge in Milwaukee halted the probe in May. Prosecutors leading the investigation have appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
That court plans to unseal 34 documents in the probe Tuesday. The Wisconsin Club for Growth filed a motion Monday seeking to keep four affidavits and five other documents secret because they reveal the group’s internal strategies.
Two unnamed parties filed a motion Friday seeking to keep all the documents sealed.
The unnamed parties say the 34 documents contain detailed personal information such as names, addresses, bank information and private emails that prosecutors used to launch searches and issue subpoenas. They contend that releasing them would undermine the secrecy of the investigation and unfairly tarnish reputations.
A group of prosecutors has been conducting a so-called John Doe investigation, in which information is kept secret, into whether Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated advertising and fundraising efforts with conservative groups that backed him.
A group of open government and media advocates, including the American Society of News Editors and the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, has filed a separate appeal with the 7th Circuit asking the court to unseal hundreds of documents in the case.
That appeal is still pending. However, the court said earlier this month that it would release 34 files that Randa’s office had transmitted to it, noting it typically makes all documents in an appeal public as part of its standard procedures.
The two unnamed parties contend that unsealing the documents as part of a standard operating procedure would undermine the appeal and “would not reflect the orderly and reasoned administration of justice.”
The court had not responded to the motion as of midmorning Monday. Theodore Boutrous Jr., an attorney representing the open government-media coalition, said in an email that he planned to oppose the motion.