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Lawsuit to block John Doe investigation challenged

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  John Doe investigators have asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit which seeks to halt a secret Doe probe into Wisconsin's recall elections -- and to punish those who filed the suit. The probe is secretly gathering evidence on alleged illegal campaign coordination between conservative groups and Republican candidates in the 2011-and-'12 recall elections. That includes the failed recall attempt against Governor Scott Walker.

Prosecutors and investigator Dean Nickel were sued last month by the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The group said the probe violates its constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection. The defendants in that suit have asked Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa to throw it out. As prosecutors, Francis Schmitz and Milwaukee D-A John Chisholm said they're immune from such lawsuits. Also, Nickel's lawyer said the plaintiffs should be sanctioned -- because they should know that federal judges are generally barred from stopping state attempts at criminal prosecution.

Also, the Journal Sentinel says State Farm Insurance has gotten involved. It wants the judge to decide whether it should have to pay some of prosecutor Bruce Landgraf's legal bills under his personal homeowner's and liability policies. The state normally picks up prosecutors' legal bills, and it's not clear why Landgraf wants his personal insurance to cover some of it. Landgraf would not elaborate.