The Corner

Wisconsin’s Shame: A Victim Fights Back

In April, three victims of Wisconsin’s long-running “John Doe” investigations broke their silence. Former Scott Walker adviser Cindy Archer spoke to National Review on the record while two other women asked for their identities to be concealed. All three, however, told remarkably similar stories — of police raids at dawn, pounding on the door, threats of battering rams, and ransacked homes. They weren’t suspected of drug crimes, violent crimes, or other crimes recognizable to the American public. Rather, they were either close associates of Scott Walker or involved in the broader conservative movement in Wisconsin — and were caught up in Milwaukee County John T. Chisholm’s dragnet, designed in its latest iteration to look for “coordination” between conservative groups and the Walker campaign. 

Now, Cindy Archer is fighting back. She’s filed a civil rights lawsuit against Chisholm. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Archer reminds us why:

Nothing could have prepared me for waking up to the shouts of men with battering rams announcing that they were about to break down my door on that morning in 2011. It was so unexpected and frightening that I ran down from my bedroom without clothes on. Panicked by the threatened show of force, I was then humiliated as officers outside the window yelled at me to get dressed and open up. I quickly retrieved clothing and dressed as I unlocked the door.

Agents with weapons drawn swarmed through every part of the house. They barged into the bathroom where my partner was showering. I was told to shut up and sit down. The officers rummaged through drawers, cabinets and closets. Their aggressive assault on my home seemed more appropriate for a dangerous criminal, not a longtime public servant with no criminal history.

After they left, I surveyed the damage. Drawers and closets had been ransacked. My deceased mother’s belongings were strewn across the floor. Neighbors gathered in small clusters at the end of their driveways and the press arrived in force.

What had prompted the raid? My guess: As an adviser to Gov. Walker, I had played a lead role in drafting and implementing public-employee labor reforms that would propel him to the national stage.

Her op-ed is powerful, detailing the events of the raid and the consequences to her career and reputation. Events are moving quickly in Wisconsin. Archer has filed her suit, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on the legality of the underlying John Doe investigation. The tide may well be turning. Stay tuned.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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