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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

 1:13 PM 

Dems, GOP set stage for John Doe debate

Assembly Republican and Dem leaders today stated their cases in favor and against the John Doe bill that will take center stage on the floor this afternoon.

Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, once again argued the bill will open the door to corruption in the Capitol by removing the possibility that politicians could be investigated for bribery and other campaign finance crimes.

He said the campaign finance and GAB bills scheduled for the floor tomorrow just exacerbate the problem.

"These bills mark the end of clean, open and transparent government in Wisconsin," Barca said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, though, said the bill simply puts Wisconsin on the same path as the rest of the country in that grand juries can be used to investigate political corruption. Bill author Rep. David Craig, R-Big Bend, said the bill represents a protection of First Amendment rights.

Under the grand jury system, Craig said, witnesses retain their First Amendment right to free speech, but that's not the case under John Doe probes. Under current law, witnesses and subjects of the investigations are bound by secrecy orders.

"The whole purpose of the bill is to make sure we're protecting constitutional liberties," he said.

Vos said if grand juries caused problems in other states, they would have adopted John Does.

"And that hasn't happened," he said.


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