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Prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to overturn halt of John Doe

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a state Supreme Court decision that shut down an investigation of alleged coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told the Wisconsin State Journal that he, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson filed the appeal Thursday.

Ozanne, Nelson and Chisholm didn’t return calls and emails requesting comment. A copy of the filing was not immediately available Thursday.

Chisholm launched the probe in 2012 under the John Doe law, which allowed prosecutors to compel testimony and bar people from talking about the investigation. The probe examined whether there was illegal coordination between Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and outside conservative groups. The Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the investigation in 2015, ruling 4-2 that the coordination was legal.

During the case, lead prosecutor Francis Schmitz asked Justices David Prosser and Michael Gableman to recuse themselves because some of the groups under investigation helped their campaigns. The court denied the request without explanation.

In an opinion released two weeks later, Prosser acknowledged that some targets of the investigation “engaged in expenditures that, under all the circumstances, were very valuable to my campaign.” But, he said, the spending took place four years prior and argued it didn’t warrant recusal.

Prosser announced Wednesday he’s stepping down from the court July 31.

Schmitz has since been removed from the investigation by the court, so he’s not involved in Thursday’s filing, but he said he’s not surprised by it.

“If I were still involved, I probably would have made the same decision,” Schmitz said.

The U.S. Supreme Court only takes up about 1 percent of the several thousand petitions it receives each year.

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