Agents for the embattled state Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin continued a zealous campaign finance investigation into dozens of conservative groups even after judges who preside over the board voted to shut it down, according to a previously sealed brief made public Friday.
The documents, from an updated complaint filed by conservative plaintiffs in a case against the GAB, appear to support claims that the campaign finance, ethics and election law regulator is a rogue agency. They also show that the GAB considered using the state's John Doe law to investigate key state conservatives and even national figures, including Fox News' Sean Hannity and WTMJ Milwaukee host Charlie Sykes.
Wisconsin Reporter also obtained some of its information from previous court documents that were supposed to have been redacted.
"What we have uncovered so far shows the Government Accountability Board, or at least its staff, being anything but 'accountable,'" said Eddie Greim, attorney for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the GAB. "For example, the public has learned for the first time, over GAB's objections, that GAB set up a secret system of Gmail accounts for its staffers and the prosecutors who ran the John Doe. We also know that GAB hoped its 'illegal coordination' theory could even extend to allow it to subpoena media figures like Charlie Sykes and Sean Hannity."
A spokesman for the agency did not immediately return a request for comment.
Wisconsin's unique "John Doe" procedure is much like a grand jury investigation, without the benefit of a jury of peers. A judge vested with extraordinary powers to compel witnesses to testify presides over the probes.