Assembly panel approves restricting John Doe probes

MADISON — A state Assembly committee has approved a Republican bill that would restrict John Doe investigations like ones that looked into Gov. Scott Walker and his aides.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee passed the measure on a 3-2 vote Thursday with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. The bill also passed out of a Senate committee in March.

Lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly have been waiting to debate the bills until after the state Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a John Doe investigation that looked into Walker's recall campaign and numerous conservative groups. The court in July ended the probe, saying it was unconstitutional.

John Doe investigations are similar to secret grand jury probes. The bill would prohibit using the process to investigate political crimes.