MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, coordinated fundraising with conservative groups as part of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to violate election laws, prosecutors said in court documents unsealed Thursday.
No charges have been filed against Walker or any member of his staff. The documents were filed in December as part of an ongoing lawsuit by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth, which challenged a secret investigation into campaign fundraising coordination.
The investigation began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election, but has been on hold since May when a federal judge ruled it was a breach of the group's free-speech rights and temporarily halted the inquiry.
State prosecutors said in the December filing that Walker, his former chief of staff Keith Gilkes, top adviser R.J. Johnson and others were discussing illegal fundraising and coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove.
"Two judges have rejected the characterizations disclosed in those documents," Walker's campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said in a statement, referring to previous rulings favorable to the governor and others under investigation. Marre also said that because Walker is not a party to the federal lawsuit the campaign has no control over any documents that are released.
The court document quotes an email Walker sent to Rove on May 4, 2011.
"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin," Walker's email said. "We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)."
It's been known for months that the investigation focused on allegations of illegal coordination between Wisconsin Club for Growth, Walker's campaign and other conservative groups during recall elections in 2011 and 2012.
But until Thursday it wasn't clear that prosecutors saw Walker as having such a central role.