A new Politico faux-hit piece on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker basically asks the national media to trump up an ongoing investigation into Walker that — as the piece begrudgingly has to explain — has so far proven utterly fruitless.
Wisconsin reporter JR Ross writes in the Friday magazine cover story that most Wisconsin voters clearly trust Walker, since they backed him in a 2012 recall election and again in 2014, and even though some of his former aides faced charges in 2012, and in spite of an ongoing investigation in 2014. But he warns the national media might not be so kind, and might even lie about the facts.
The investigations haven’t stopped Walker so far, he writes. “But if he runs for president, the national media may not be so careful to make such distinctions — between Walker and his associates, and between allegations that have stuck and those that haven’t—that Wisconsinites have grown used to.”
Zero concrete evidence has been found so far implicating Walker, but as Ross notes: “The caveat is the unknown.”
He also quotes an attorney willing to make the obvious point that evidence could be discovered: “Milwaukee attorney Jeremy Levinson … noted with a live court case comes the possibility that more details will come to light from the second investigation. All it would take is one email or brief with a phrase like ‘criminal scheme’ to ignite a frenzy in the national media.”
Walker is currently one of the top contenders in the unofficial GOP 2016 primary race. (RELATED: New Poll Finds Scott Walker Has Biggest Lead yet In 2016 Race)
As Ross explains in a roundabout way, Walker’s been scrutinized in two separate investigations covering his time as a county executive and his gubernatorial campaigns, and a number of conservative groups that fought for him against unions in 2012.
“They have produced a treasure trove of records for opponents and the media to pick over as they dive deeper into Walker’s background,” he writes.
The first investigation resulted in the conviction of six county employees under Walker who were using taxpayer dollars illegally. Two embezzled funds, one reimbursed Walker donors with his paycheck, and others were illegally working on the campaign using taxpayer funded resources. But prosecutors found no evidence implicating Walker.
The second, ongoing, investigation is based on a theory that Walker illegally coordinated with conservative groups working to reelect him in 2012 and 2014, in what prosecutors call “a criminal scheme.” So far, they haven’t turned up any hard evidence implicating Walker.
The lack of evidence could prove a stumbling block for ambitious reporters and opposition researchers, Ross concedes.
“Of course, those looking to take some sheen off the latest ‘it’ presidential candidate should be warned there’s been no smoking gun in the thousands of pages released to date,” he writes. “What’s more, after multiple document dumps covered by the Wisconsin media, Walker’s responses to the investigations have been well-rehearsed at this point.”
But he seems generally optimistic about the possibilities.
“The documents collected during the various investigations have also attached the phrase ‘criminal scheme’ to Walker’s name — fairly or not — and the attack ads opponents could conjure up almost write themselves,” he writes. Then he practically produces one on paper, fantasizing, “all they would need is a series of negative headlines, the ominous music and the deep voice asking the question, ‘Do you really know Scott Walker?'”
He concludes by returning to the point that most Wisconsin voters have made it clear they don’t really care, and have concluded the investigations are politically motivated, but leaves readers with a spicy quote from the attorney who isn’t 100 percent convinced this story might not possibly become a thing. (RELATED: Scott Walker Isn’t Putting Up With The Media’s Bias And Now They’re Pouting)
“‘I realize in Wisconsin [the investigation is] a yawn,” Levinson told Politico. “I’m not sure that’s a yawn nationwide.”