By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A special prosecutor has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reconsider its decision ending an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign, a move that signals he may take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court ended the investigation into Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups on July 16, saying they had not violated campaign finance laws by working closely together. The ruling was a big win for Walker, coming just days after he officially launched his presidential campaign.
Online court records show Francis Schmitz filed a motion Tuesday with Wisconsin’s highest court to put that decision on hold and reconsider the ruling.
The probe had been on hold for 18 months after the judge overseeing the investigation ruled that no laws had been broken. But the Supreme Court’s 4-2 ruling ended it for good. The court, which is controlled by a majority of conservative justices, broke along ideological lines to find in support of the Walker recall campaign.
Part of the court’s ruling ordered Schmitz and prosecutors to return all evidence collected during the investigation and destroy any copies. Schmitz’s request that the ruling be put on hold would delay that.
The original investigation, known as a John Doe, was secret and many of the court filings have not been publicly released. Schmitz’s actual motion was under seal pending a determination by the court as to whether it should be made public.
Schmitz did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday. Todd Graves, the attorney for the Wisconsin Club for Growth that filed a lawsuit challenging the probe that went to the Supreme Court, declined to comment.
The filing comes as Walker prepares to take part in the first Republican presidential candidate debate on Thursday night in Cleveland.
Schmitz’s filing is the clearest sign yet that he may ultimately ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. Donations received by justices from groups involved in the case could form the basis of an appeal.
Schmitz had asked that two state Supreme Court justices — Michael Gableman and David Prosser — recuse themselves from the case because their campaigns for the high court benefited from millions of dollars spent by at least three groups that were investigated.
The court denied the request with no explanation the same day it issued its ruling, written by Gableman and supported by Prosser. Two weeks after the ruling, Prosser explained why he didn’t recuse himself, saying the donations to him were moot because they were made four years ago.
The Wisconsin Club for Growth is estimated to have spent more than $1 million for Gableman and Prosser. Another group that was part of the investigation, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, spent nearly $3 million for the campaigns of the same two justices. And a group funded entirely by Wisconsin Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America, spent nearly $1 million to help Prosser.Follow @sbauerAP