MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A secret investigation is reportedly taking place into a number of state government issues -- including possible election law violations in recall contests.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said former long-time federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz is leading a John Doe investigation.
Columnist Dan Bice said Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara Kluka is presiding over the probe -- which prosecutors often use to gather evidence for criminal cases. 
The Journal Sentinel said Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf initiated the investigation, but he's not answering questions about it.
Bice said the probe has spread to five counties, but much of the activity is centered in Dane County, the home to Madison and the State Capitol. 
The Journal Sentinel says the state-related case had opened as early as February of last year. Nine senators were targeted for recalls in 2011, in connection with the law that virtually ended collective bargaining for most public employee unions. 
Two GOP senators lost their seats in '11, and the Republicans lost one of four recall contests the following year -- when Governor Scott Walker survived his recall effort.