By Brendan O’Brien and Mary Wisniewski
MILWAUKEE/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Wisconsin prosecutors asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday for approval to restart an investigation into possible illegal coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and special interest groups during elections in 2011 and 2012.
A federal judge in May halted the investigation after a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative organization, accusing investigators of sidelining it from political activities, violating its rights to free speech, association and equal protection.
Prosecutors appealed the judge’s ruling shutting down the probe launched in 2012 by Milwaukee County Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm.
A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals took the case under advisement on Tuesday after hearing arguments in Chicago by lawyers for the special prosecutors and the Wisconsin Club for Growth.
Prosecutors argued they had immunity from being sued in court and said in court papers that the interests of the public outweighed those of an interest group.
Neither Walker, a potential Republican White House hopeful in 2016, nor anyone else has been charged in the investigation, which has been pursued under a Wisconsin law that requires such probes to be conducted in secret.
Walker was elected governor in 2010. In June 2012, he became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. The investigation was launched two months later.
Walker was forced into a special election after he angered Democrats and labor unions by pushing through the state Legislature a bill stripping public-sector labor unions of much of their power.
In previously released court documents, prosecutors suggested Walker’s campaign advisers gained control over both the funding and strategy of independent conservative groups, in what could be a violation of campaign finance laws.
Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are in a statistical dead heat in opinion polls less than two months before the November governor’s election.
(Editing by Eric Walsh and Peter Cooney)
WATCH: Trump admits he talked to Ukraine president about Joe Biden and his son
President Donald Trump Sunday morning admitted he brought up Joe Biden and the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden while speaking with the President of Ukraine.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption,” Trump said, speaking to reporters from the White House lawn.
BREAKING: President Trump admits that he talked to the Ukrainian president about former Vice President Biden. #MTP #IfItsSunday@kristenwelker: "From the president's perspective, the only way to put this story to bed is to release the transcript." pic.twitter.com/aaJ6DjMN0E
‘Left wing hack’: Fox News fans lose it after anchor calls Ukraine allegations ‘a problem’ for Trump
Fox News viewers lashed out at the network on Sunday after host Arthel Neville grilled New York Congressman Peter King (R) about President Donald Trump's alleged effort to get Ukraine to help him defeat Joe Biden.
Neville twice asked King about Trump's Ukraine scandal, and both times he evaded the question by saying that Congress does not have a right to know the details of Trump's conversations with foreign leaders.
On her third attempt, Neville got to the point by noting Trump's alleged actions are "a problem."
"We don’t know that it’s true, we hope it’s not true," the Fox News host said of the allegations against Trump. "But if there is a possibility that our president used his office to put pressure on a foreign government -- president-elect -- to dig into his possible, potential political opponent, then that’s a problem."
New York Times battered on MSNBC for pushing smear of Hunter Biden in order to maintain access to Trump
An "AM Joy" panel jumped all over the New York Times for pushing a widely debunked smear of Hunter Biden promoted by Donald Trump, saying the newspaper is more interested in maintaining their access to the Oval Office than debunking the lie.
Speaking with host Joy Reid -- who noted that her producers asked for comment from the Times but were rebuffed -- MSNBC regular Maria Teresa Kumar scorched the Times, as well as reporter Ken Vogel, for the uncritical parroting of the president's smear.