The official behind the IRS' conservative nonprofit targeting scandal, Lois Lerner, was friends with the Wisconsin regulator who targeted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's conservative aides and allies.
Lerner and Kevin Kennedy, director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, were friends for 20 years and traded emails on campaign finance, politics, and personal matters between 2011 and 2013, emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveal. That was the same time frame the IRS increased its harassment of conservative groups and Wisconsin prosecutors conducted a secret John Doe probe of Walker's allies, raising the troubling question of whether they coordinated their investigations.
After Walker's victory in a recall election, Lerner's long time friend Kennedy helped Milwaukee County prosecutors conduct an onerous, several-year investigation into Walker's political allies, complete with secret subpoenas for phone, text message and email records and armed, middle of the night raids on Walker associates' homes.
The investigation never uncovered any wrongdoing, and eventually federal Judge Rudolph Randa ordered it to end, ruling that the investigation had violated the First Amendment rights of Walker's associates. They were "pursuing criminal charges through a secret John Doe investigation against the plaintiffs for exercising issue advocacy [free] speech rights," Randa wrote.
The judge wrote that investigators also targeted Republican candidates for state Senate and that "all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present are targets of the investigation," a violation of the First Amendment.