He’s a cop, not a poet.
But Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. isn’t above using an ancient symbol to illustrate his contention that secret investigations into conservatives driven by his county’s Democrat-led district attorney’s office “don’t pass the smell test.”
Clarke, in an extended interview with Wisconsin Reporter on Thursday, pointed to a black-and-white picture of Lady Justice, clutching her sword in her right hand, balancing scales in her left — the eyes of the Roman goddess hidden beneath a blindfold.
Then the sheriff turned the picture over, showing Lady J. lifting the blindfold and peeking — betraying the notion that justice is blind.
That’s how Clarke sees the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office and its extended, court-administered dragnets. He said the so-called John Doe investigations launched by the office have been “weaponized” for political gain.
“As for the smell test, this thing reeks of politics, it reeks of being a political witch hunt,” he said.
Multiple sources close to the latest investigation have told Wisconsin Reporter that the Milwaukee County DA’s office, led by Democrat John Chisholm, has targeted state conservatives and even such national groups as Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and the Republican Governors Association.
Though gagged by provisions of subpoenas sought by Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf and others, several sources have told Wisconsin Reporter the manifold legal attack on nonprofit political organizations has included after-hours visits to homes and offices; confiscated equipment and files; and demands for phone, email and other records. The sources have asked to remain anonymous due to their proximity to the investigation or to people connected to it.
The probe follows and reportedly may have drawn on evidence gleaned during John Doe One, a nearly three-year secret probe into former aides and associates of Gov.Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. That dragnet ended with six convictions but no findings of wrongdoing by Walker.
Conservative insiders with knowledge of the investigation assert the goal of the latest John Doe is to bring down the Republican governor, the bane of the left.
Clarke said, at the very least, the investigations have taken on the appearance of being politically motivated, raising important questions about the potential abuse of prosecutorial power.
“When you start to use power like that, in that fashion, that’s scary to me because that could happen to you, and that could happen to me,” Clarke said. “The unchecked, unbridled scope of these investigations, to me, they’re dangerous.”
Prosecutors, peace officers and judges are clothed in immense power and authority — the power to issue subpoenas, conduct search warrants, make arrests, to use deadly force. When the public loses faith in the independent nature of those powers, the game is lost, Clarke said.
The sheriff reiterated his claims that politically driven investigations come even as the DA’s office has declined to prosecute burglaries, domestic violence, drug cases and others because it said it did not have the resources.
While the DA’s office has said it did not track expenses related to the first John Doe case, the office did spend about $18.3 million last year. If 2 percent of the D.A.’s budget — an estimate sources said is conservative — went to the investigation over its nearly three years, taxpayers ended up with a $1 million-plus bill.
And how much did the untold individuals targeted or called to testify under oath have to spend defending themselves?
Clarke said it’s about priorities.
“If you have prosecutors and investigators assigned to that, those are prosecutors that can’t work in some of those other areas,” including violent crimes, the sheriff said. “John Chisholm gets to make that decision, but we also get to question it.”
Clarke, who runs as a Democrat in a Dem-heavy county but is a vocal conservative, says he believes the latest John Doe is so politically tainted, or at least has the appearance of being so, that prosecutors should just shut it down.
Landgraf and special prosecutor Francis D. Schmitz repeatedly have declined to talk about the latest investigation, dubbed John Doe Two.
More so, the sheriff asserts the investigators should be investigated.
“You have people’s reputations damaged, their standing in the community damaged, just by having their name caught up in this. And how do they go and get their reputation back?” Clarke said.
“Are the investigators involved getting subpoenas for their cell phone records, for their computers?” Clarke asked. “Are they seizing their (investigator’s) computers to see who they’ve been in touch with?”
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected].
Published with permission from Watchdog.org
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