July 1, 2015

ANOTHER WISCONSIN CONSERVATIVE BRINGS RETALIATION LAWSUIT: This time it’s Cindy Archer, a longtime aide to Governor Scott Walker, whose home was raided, SWAT-style, as part of an investigation witch hunt against conservatives in the state initiated by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Archer has filed her civil rights-First Amendment lawsuit against Chisholm in Wisconsin state court. Explaining her decision to file the suit in the Wall Street Journal, Archer reveals:

I was a close adviser to Scott Walker in the county executive’s office and then in the statehouse, but it never occurred to me that my own happiness would be collateral damage in a political vendetta.

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.

The governor’s reforms, commonly referred to as Act 10, prompted angry union protests. The reforms also enraged many politicians, including, as I would later find out, Mr. Chisholm and members of his staff. My ties to Gov. Walker and Act 10 made me a prime target for Mr. Chisholm’s campaign to intimidate anyone close to the governor.

In other words, I was targeted because of my politics—in plain violation of the First Amendment and federal civil-rights statutes.

Like so many Walker and union reform supporters who were targeted by Chisholm’s “John Doe” investigation, Archer was never charged with a crime. Her reputation has been irreparably damaged, and Archer states that she lost her job working for Walker because she was a target of the investigation:

I have also been subjected to derogatory headlines and made the butt of jokes on talk radio and anti-Walker websites about everything from my personal appearance to my sexual orientation and mental stability. Neighbors became distant and suspicious.

Worst of all, I have discovered that my demotion as Gov. Walker’s deputy director of administration, which came four weeks before the raid on my house, appears to have been engineered by the governor’s team after word reached them that I had been targeted by the district attorney. Subsequently, I have not been given any role in the administration that may bring public attention.

Archer is now working as the Chief Information Officer for the Wisconsin Public Defenders’ Office. Her lawsuit will provide a much needed opportunity to discover more information about the motive of Chisholm’s investigation, including what should be some very interesting depositions. A similar First Amendment retaliation lawsuit filed by Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth had early success in a federal trial court, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the lawsuit dismissed due to its belief that the federal civil rights claims should be resolved by the Wisconsin state courts.

Now, with the Archer lawsuit, the facts can finally be discovered. I am hoping O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth consider refiling their lawsuit in Wisconsin state court, too.  It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

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