Federal judge Rudolph Randa decided to halt the John Doe II investigation. Hours later it was appealed by prosecutors to the Federal Court of Appeals in Chicago.
To this layperson the strongest arguments made to the appeals court are
1) Randa ordered that evidence be destroyed that is needed in two other cases and
2) Randa’s order was issued without jurisdiction since an appeal of his impending decision was filed with the 7th circuit 1 day earlier. (More on this is at Chippewa.com)
I read the 26-page decision in full. There’s a whole lot of absurd in there – and it would be best to respond line by line. But here are a few highlights (low lights).
For starters, some of the decision’s saccharine passages read like they’re lifted off of a Club for Growth brochure.
“O’Keefe’s advocacy came to the forefront during the political unrest surrounding Governor Scott Walker’s proposal and passage of 2011 Wiscosin Act 10, also known as the Budget Repair Bill. … O’Keefe, the Club, and its supporters immediately recognized the importance of the Bill to the Club’s mission of promoting principles of economic freedom and limited government. The Club viewed the Bill as a model that, if successful, might be replicated across the country.”
Judge Randa’s decision says political campaigns should have the green light to coordinate with 501(c)4 “issue” groups with impunity – despite Wisconsin’s statutes rendering that behavior illegal – as long as the resulting speech is not expressing “advocacy” akin to “Vote for Walker”.*
Those means are not corrupting of politics, according to Randa, because the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down FEC v. McCutcheon which narrowly defines political corruption as verifiable quid pro quo exchanges. For example, it would be a quid pro quo situation *IF* Friends of Scott Walker operative Richard “R.J.” Johnson promised Wisconsin for Life that Walker would vote for a Choose Life license plate to fund abortion reeducation centers around the state if the group ran a certain friendly-to-Walker issue ad at a certain time.
Randa also leans heavily on the Citizens United decision commonly known as the “Corporations are People too” ruling.
At times Randa’s decision is strewn with his own laughable ideology [or is this more drivel cribbed from O’Keefe’s notes?].
Here’s one such paragraph:
“Conversely, issue advocacy, which is enabled by what we can call “issue advocacy money,” is not subject to these limitations because it is viewed only one way, and that is as protected First Amendment speech. This is not a recognition that quid pro quo corruption is the only source of corruption in our political system or that issue advocacy money could not be used for some corrupting purpose. Rather, the larger danger is giving government an expanded role in uprooting all forms of perceived corruption which may result in corruption of the First Amendment itself. It is a recognition that maximizing First Amendment freedom is a better way to deal with political corruption than allowing the seemingly corruptible to do so. As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.“
So. That’s something to ponder.
In the eyes of Judge Randa, freedom of speech for Club for Growth can only lead to universal good while the regulation of campaign operatives and “issues” groups could very well lead to decapitations in the streets.
I feel just the opposite about these things.
* “Express advocacy” was narrowly defined political speech under the Buckley v. Valeo decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which uses the words and phrases, “vote for”, “elect”, “support”, “cast your ballot for”, “_______ for Congress”, “vote against”, “defeat”, “reject”, or similar variations that express a call to take political action.