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A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court's ruling halting an investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and more than two dozen conservative groups for alleged illegal campaign activity.
The ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is a defeat for Walker and conservatives who argued they have done nothing wrong and that the investigation is a partisan witch hunt designed to chill political speech. Walker is running for re-election this fall against Democrat Mary Burke and is considering a 2016 run for president.
Even with the ruling, the investigation won't be able to resume immediately.
A state judge overseeing the probe also effectively stopped it in January when he issued a ruling quashing requested subpoenas, saying he did not believe anything illegal had transpired. That ruling is under appeal.
The 7th Circuit said in its 14-page ruling that state courts are the proper venue to resolve legal issues with the case. It also refused to make public eight documents that a coalition of media groups had wanted to be unsealed.
The first-term Republican made a national name for himself when he took on public sector unions in 2011 with his measure that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers. That fight led to the 2012 vote to recall Walker, which he won, making him the first governor in U.S. history to overcome a recall.
Walker has been dogged by secret investigations, first of aides and associates before he became governor and now on his recall campaign and other conservative groups.
-- Associated Press