The U.S. district judge who earlier this month halted the "John Doe" criminal probe into spending in the 2011-12 recall elections attended judicial junkets funded by the ultra-conservative Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, according to a report from the Center for Media and Democracy.
The all-expenses paid junkets also received funding from the Lynne and Harry Bradley Foundation, according to the Center for Media and Democracy's prwatch.org.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa blocked the Doe probe on May 6. Investigators were looking into alleged illegal coordination between nonprofits such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Gov. Scott Walker's campaign, as well as the campaigns of state senators facing a recall vote.
Wisconsin Club for Growth and director Eric O'Keefe asked the court to stop the investigation on the grounds that it violated freedom of speech.
Randa did stop the investigation and ordered the destruction of evidence gathered by prosecutors — an order that's been put on hold pending an appeals court review.
The Center for Media and Democracy reported that Randa attended judicial seminars put on George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, which were private-funded and all-expenses paid.
"The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical," the center stated. "
The center based its reporting on a review of financial disclosure documents and said no other federal district judges in the state attended the George Mason programs.
The watchdog group noted that the Koch foundation gave $5.45 million in 2012 to the George Mason University Foundation and another $51,000 to the George Mason Law and Economics Center. The Koch network also has contributed funding the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the nonprofit involved in the case Randa ruled on.