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Prosecutors are accusing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) of being at the center of a "criminal scheme" over campaign fundraising, according to newly unsealed court documents. [READ THE DOCUMENTS.]


Walker, a possible 2016 presidential contender, is accused of illegally coordinating with outside groups, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, during his recall election.

According to the documents, prosecutors accuse Walker and his aides of running a "criminal scheme ... to utilize and direct 501(c)(4) organizations" to spend on behalf of Walker his allies. The prosecutors allege "a concerted effort to circumvent Wisconsin's campaign finance contribution prohibitions, limitations and disclosure requirements" to boost him in 2011 and 2012 during his gubernatorial recall election and help other state senators facing recall elections.

The subpoenaed documents from the John Doe investigation include emails between Walker and top Republican strategist Karl Rove in which Walker extolls the value of R.J. Johnson, one of his advisors who also worked for the Wisconsin Club for Growth who is a target of the investigation of illegal coordination.

"Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin," Walker wrote to Rove in May 2011.

Walker denied the accusations in a statment released Thursday evening, calling the probe "nothing more than a partisan investigation with no basis in state law."

"The accusation of any wrongdoing written in the complaint by the office of a partisan Democrat District Attorney by me or by my campaign is categorically false. In fact two judges, in both state and federal courts, have ruled that no laws were broken," he said. 

"Now my Democratic opponents will use these false accusations to distract from the issues important to the voters of Wisconsin."

A federal judge unsealed the court documents Thursday as part of a lawsuit from the Wisconsin Club for Growth attempting to halt the secret "John Doe" investigation. The investigation was temporarily halted by a district judge in early May, and the appeals court reviewing that decision is the one that unsealed the documents.

A previous John Doe investigation into related issues led to six convictions of former Walker aides, though Walker himself was not implicated in that case.

But now the case has new potential to hurt Walker's current reelection efforts in 2014 against Democrat Mary Burke as well as any potential hopes the GOP rising star has of running for the White House.

"The Friends of Scott Walker campaign are not party to the federal suit and have no control over any documents in that suit. Two judges have rejected the characterizations disclosed in those documents," Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre told The Hill in an email.

Democrats were quick to seize on the newly released documents and allegations, calling on the governor "to come clean to the people of Wisconsin and face the consequences, whatever they may be.”

“The documents released today raise more questions than answers about Scott Walker’s misconduct during his first term," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin. "Walker’s coordination with Karl Rove and a Koch backed group, among others, is not only troubling and potentially illegal – it is a clear violation of the public’s trust."

This post was updated at 8:57 p.m.