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UPDATE: Prosecutors will appeal John Doe shutdown order, Shutdown order STAYED Wednesday afternoon


A federal appeals court has stayed the ruling of the judge that ordered an end to the John Doe probe against conservative groups campaigning for Governor Scott Walker in the 2012 campaign and recalls.  This means prosecutors can keep whatever evidence they have collected.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago granted the stay less than eight hours after the ruling by Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee.

The case involves Wisconsin Club for Growth against the prosecutors in Milwaukee County that pursued the probe.


MILWAUKEE (WSAU-Wheeler News)  A special prosecutor expects to appeal a federal judge's ruling yesterday, which halted a secret John Doe probe into Republican campaign activities during Wisconsin's recall elections. Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa said one of the targets -- the Wisconsin Club for Growth -- had its free speech rights violated. The judge said the group and its treasurer found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and the move should be recognized as a way to promote political speech instead of restricting it.

Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz says he'll need to consult with other prosecutors in the case, and his own attorney, before deciding on an appeal of Randa's decision. The judge said prosecutors were scrutinizing group consultant R-J Johnson as a hub who coordinated activities for Governor Scott Walker's campaign and several groups that included the United Sportsmen and Wisconsin Right-to-Life. Prosecutors were looking for violations of the law which prohibit campaign coordination between candidates and outside groups.

The Club for Growth said it was unfair that the probe only targeted conservatives. The investigation centered on the 2011-and-'12 recall contests, in which Walker became the nation's first governor to survive such an effort.

Judge Randa ordered the return of all evidence seized during the probe, plus the destruction of any materials gathered by prosecutors.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm started the probe in mid-2012.