Campaign Finance

Forced Silence

Campaign finance rules and the politicians and prosecutors who manipulate them are a threat to freedom.

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In a democracy, citizens must be able to criticize their leaders. It's a reason America's founders put free speech in the Bill of Rights. I assumed that right is safe in the United States. So I was shocked to learn what happened in Wisconsin.
Before dawn, Deborah Jordahl was awakened by the sound of cops banging on her front door. She rushed downstairs before police used their battering ram to break the door down. The officers then said her household was under criminal investigation.

They ordered Deborah and her son Adam to step aside while they took her family's computers, cellphones and files.

They also told her, don't talk to anyone about this investigation! If you do, you may be jailed!

They wouldn't tell her why.

School buses drove by. Neighbors wondered what was going on at the Jordahl house.

Deborah's son told me, "People came up to me at school and said, 'Hey, what happened at your house this morning?'" He couldn't legally answer.

No one in the family was allowed to explain that Deborah works as a political consultant, that she supported Gov. Scott Walker and limited government. Now, political incumbents who like big government were investigating her for possible violation of Wisconsin's campaign finance rules.

Modern campaign rules are so complex no one is certain what is legal. Yet one misstep is enough to get accused not just of bad political arguments, but also of "collusion" and racketeering. Raise money for a cause you believe in and get close to politicians you favor, and you may be accused of funneling illicit money to their campaigns.

In Wisconsin, prosecutors may also impose what's called the "John Doe" rule: Don't tell anyone that you're being investigated, not even your kids, your spouse and definitely not the media.

Prosecutors claim secrecy is needed to "protect privacy" of people under investigation; if charges are dropped, no one need know that you had been accused. But in truth, says Eric O'Keefe, another limited-government activist who Wisconsin prosecutors investigated, "This is about shutting us up. That's all it is. It is a speech suppression play."

It's also a way for political insiders to punish their opponents. O'Keefe is a Republican, and the lead prosecutor, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, is a Democrat, but two Republican insiders signed off on the raids, too. "I take cold comfort in having my constitutional rights trampled by both parties," says O'Keefe.

We who support smaller government expect retaliation from incumbent politicians. But children shouldn't be punished. Sixteen year-old Noah Johnson was home alone when cops banged on his family's door at dawn. His parents left early that morning.

Noah was scared because he had no idea what was going on. "I'm looking around outside. There are flashlights everywhere."

He wanted to call his parents, which sounds responsible, but, "They didn't let me call anyone, I was not able to call a lawyer."

Hours later, they allowed him to leave for school, but again warned him not to tell anyone about the police!
"I was two hours late for school," he told me, but "there's no way you can explain it to anyone." When his teacher asked why he was late, all he could say was, "I cannot say."

Every John Doe suspect had to live the nightmare of knowing that the state was investigating them or their family members but that they were forbidden by the government to say what the family had done that might be forbidden by the government.

This forced silence lasted five years, until Wisconsin's Supreme Court finally ordered the Joe Doe investigations stopped, saying prosecutors used "theories of law that do not exist."

But political incumbents didn't have to win convictions to achieve what I assume was one of their goals: silencing opponents during political campaigns.

We like to think speech is free, but when government can investigate you for possibly violating countless little rules, and then order you to shut up, it censors without the public even knowing.

Campaign finance rules, and the political incumbents and prosecutor-bullies who manipulate them, are a major threat to our freedom.

COPYRIGHT 2015 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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  1. In Wisconsin, prosecutors may also impose what’s called the “John Doe” rule: Don’t tell anyone that you’re being investigated, not even your kids, your spouse and definitely not the media.

    Who would have told that story? Remember when the likes of 60 Minutes used to do investigative reporting on abuses like this? Even now it’s not widely known what these people went through at the behest of political operatives.

  2. “Gov’t Campaign finance rules, and the political incumbents and prosecutor-bullies who manipulate them, are is a major threat to our freedom.”

  3. I’m not sure why campaign finance laws in particular are to blame in this case. The prosecutors weren’t charging their victims with any recognized theory of the law. Yes, campaign finance violations were the excuse they came up with, but if there were no such laws I’m sure a dedicated prosecutor could come up with some other bs reason to raid his political enemies (which is what was happening here).
    The problems here go beyond campaign finance. Using armed police raids to serve warrants against non violent suspects. Silencing those suspects (even to the point where they aren’t allowed to call a lawyer). Rogue prosecutors bent on intimidating political opponents.

  4. This fits in with a particular area of amazement for me.

    We often hear about how violent our society is. I do not see how violent it is, but rather, am amazed at what my fellow citizens peacefully put up with.

    The IRS, falsely accuses someone and shuts down their business, freezes or seizes bank accounts, confiscates homes, cars, boats and whatever. Can you image the hopelessness of having all you worked for in your life taken. Divorced and living apart from your family, so that your wife can earn a living and keep the money without your name attached. Unable to support yourself because IF you are able to get a job, you will likely lose it when the come after your employer with garnishment. Can you imagine the despair, the feeling of having nothing left to lose?

    It does not surprise me that people fear the IRS, it surprises me that there are any IRS agents alive. It surprises me that saying “I work for the IRS” does not get you and your family ostracized in the community. And it surprises me that every IRS agent does not have to include “put on a flak jacket” as part of the morning routine.

    I could extend this to other cases, such as the one in the article, but you see my point. We are treated this way, because we ALLOW ourselves to be treated this way. And that continues to surprise me.

    1. I am not advocating that everyone go out and wack an IRS agent. I am just surprised that even under the worst of conditions, destruction and despair, most people do not strike back violently.

      1. I am not advocating that everyone go out and wack an IRS agent.

        Yes, you are. Expect a battering ram at your door any second now, terrorist.

      2. I think most people still have way too much faith in the justice system. When they first get subpoena’d they think “This is some kind of mistake, I’ll get this cleared up and justice will prevail,” then when they first start to garnish their wages they think “I’ll get that money back after my day in court,” and then after they lose their job and all of their bank accounts, house, car, etc are confiscated and an IRS SWAT team raids their house and throws them out in the street, they STILL think “Surely I’ll be able prove my innonence* in court”. Not until the prison door closes behind them do they finally understand.

        *You’d think the fact that in tax court you have to prove your innonence instead of the other way around would be a clue.

        1. You’d think… they wouldn’t. That is another drawback to ideologies wherein thinking is a delegated task.

  5. “I take cold comfort in having my constitutional rights trampled by both parties,” says O’Keefe.

    “Welcome to the party, pal!” – John McClane

  6. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court finally ordered the Joe Doe investigations stopped, saying prosecutors used “theories of law that do not exist.”

    Let’s cut the horseshit: they blatantly lied, broke the law, and intimidated their political opponents. These assholes should be dangling from lamposts.

  7. As horrible as these incidents were, they were found to be unconstitutional by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. So, while the local government overstepped its bounds, they were put in check through due process. This is a good thing. I would say that this situation has less to do with government being too large than it has to do with powerful people believing they could get away with it. In this case the government worked exactly like it was supposed to. Corruption can come at you from all angles even with a limited government simply because people run the government. Power and spheres of influence will always exist, with or without the government. There will always be powerful people who try to limit those that believe differently than them. It is the job of the government, as the rule of law, to stop them.

    1. In this case the government worked exactly like it was supposed to.

      Um, no. Putting people through years of bullshit litigation is not “working”. And it only “worked” in this case because some of those targeted had some measure of wealth and political power. If the system had been working, these investigations would never have happened in the first place, because these laws would not have existed.

    2. “In this case the government worked exactly like it was supposed to”

      If it acts this horrible, then individuals should be able to opt out of such a shitshow that can’t protect ones liberty.

      “There will always be powerful people who try to limit those that believe differently than them. It is the job of the government, as the rule of law, to stop them.”

      Yet, they don’t care for rules or laws. They even make up their own laws which blatantly violate the constitution. It shouldn’t take years to stop someone from aggressions against your liberty. Suppose someone in your neighborhood was robbing you? What if 6 out of 10 individuals thought that this was justified because that person is doing some good with your stolen money and “elect” the their as their representative? “Well” they tell you. “You’ll just have to wait four years to vote him out and stop these “taxes”. Why should liberty have to wait four years?

      Free people can defend their liberty immediately. There is no waiting.

    3. Did the court strike down the ‘John Doe’ investigations as unconstitutional, or did they say that this particular investigation did not have enough evidence to proceed as a ‘John Doe’?

  8. We like to think speech is free, but when government can investigate you for possibly violating countless little rules, and then order you to shut up, it censors without the public even knowing.

    Whew! Got that FISA court stuff clarified and restrained just in time!

    1. This is censorship. Robby Soave take note. Feminazis shouting down a christianofascist at a private institution is not censorship. The difference is loaded and cocked government guns with a shell in the chamber and the safety off.

    2. That is exactly what Floyd Ferris meant in Atlas…: One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

  9. A proper response to this kind of tyranny is to IMMEDIATELY tell all your friends and family about it, and post on social media and web sites, parade around with banners, and tell the media all about it. Media is mostly Government Almighty lapdogs, so the last one is rather a waste, yes… As soon as it is near-universally recognized that we no longer have free speech, or much of ANY kind of freedom left, then the revolution can (perhaps) begin. I just hope it is with ballots and not bullets!

    1. ^ This ^

      I will say what I want, when I want, where I want, to whoever I want, and my public servants will goddamn well like it or we’ll be needing some new public servants.

  10. At least there are still no laws in the US against using “offensive” (read: critical) language against government officials.

    Of course, there is still time to emulate Danish law, which will get you fined or thrown in jail for these kinds of crimes.

  11. This is exactly what the Richard Nixon bribes for incumbent parties law was designed to produce.
    Search “nixons-anti-libertarian-law” and find http://tinyurl.com/ptmqk4b

    The Nixon law pays the media to ignore all but the incumbent parties. With such a law your money pays the media to preserve the involuntary servitude sanctioned by the then Supreme Court. This is the court that at that time ruled the 1848 communist manifesto income tax constitutional, that passing out constitutional amendments is a felony, and that forcing men to kill for the military is not involuntary servitude. Every unjust law democracy was designed to repeal is preserved thanks to the Republican coward who resigned rather than face charges, and his major-party abettors.

  12. Screw the “John Doe” aspect. Speak up. Call a press conference. Tell the world. Shine a light on the cockroaches.

  13. I am afraid I would have been in jail because I would have never lied for my kids’ absence when the jerks that caused it said I must lie! They would have been very mistaken trying that crap on me! Then again, I have never been a good politician. Just ask the other doctors that threw me out of their hospital!

  14. “Prosecutors claim secrecy is needed to “protect privacy” of people under investigation; if charges are dropped, no one need know that you had been accused. ”
    If it was about privacy you’d think the people in question would have the option to speak. Of course the names never get leaked when convenient for prosecutors or their political masters. That would never happen.

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