By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was not a target of an investigation into possible illegal coordination between his campaign and special interest groups during elections in 2011 and 2012, a lawyer for the prosecutor leading the investigation said on Thursday.
Neither Walker, a potential Republican White House hopeful in 2016, nor anyone else has been charged in the investigation launched in August 2012 under a Wisconsin law that requires such probes to be conducted in secret.
Randall Crocker, an attorney representing special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, said Thursday that documents released publicly last week outlined the prosecutor's legal theory of the investigation and did not establish the existence of a crime.
A federal judge halted the investigation in response to a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Club for Growth that accuses prosecutors of violating their free-speech rights. Prosecutors are appealing.
"At the time the investigation was halted, Governor Walker was not a target of the investigation," Crocker said in the statement. "At no time has he been served with a subpoena."
Crocker warned against concluding that Walker was engaged in a criminal scheme, saying there was no such finding.
"Rather, they were arguments in support of further investigation to determine if criminal charges against any person or entity are warranted," Crocker said.
Prosecutors were investigating whether Walker's campaign and conservative groups circumvented the state's campaign finance laws during recall elections in 2011 and 2012, according to the documents released by a U.S. appeals court last week.
The prosecutors suggested Walker's campaign advisers gained control over both the funding and strategy of independent conservative groups, in what could be a violation of campaign finance laws.
Walker, who is running for reelection, has alleged the investigation was politically motivated.
"After the media's slanderous reporting last week, today’s statement by prosecutors should serve as an opportunity for the media to correct the record and report the real facts of this story," Walker campaign spokesman Tom Evenson said Thursday in a statement.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Gunna Dickson and Susan Heavey)