Cognitive Dissidence recently posted a “voters guide” detailed timeline to Walkergate, the commonly used moniker for the John Doe investigation.
Here’s a shortened version/summary of it:
Walker’s Director of Constituent Affairs, Darlene Wink was caught leaving (anonymous) comments on JS Online and other blogs, promoting the candidacy of Scott Walker and bashing his potential opponents. Wink immediately resigned.
Following the outing of Wink, Walker’s longtime friend, campaign worker and county staffer, Tim Russell was filmed doing campaign work while on county time.
Railroad mogul, William E. Gardner was charged with making illegal donations to Walker’s campaign, pleaded guilty and was convicted.
On Nov. 1, 2010, the day before the gubernatorial election, the DA’s office confiscated computers and files from the county executive’s office.
In September 2011 it became public knowledge that sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents raided the home of Cindy Archer, Walker’s top aide in the county and a top advisor to him as governor.
Around this time, Tom Nardelli, who was Walker’s Chief of Staff at the county and given a cushy state job, suddenly quit his job. It was also discovered that John Hiller, Walker’s campaign treasurer of almost two decades, “ had suddenly and quietly slunk off 6 months before”.
On January 5, 2012, Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm announced the arrests and charging of 3 Walker associates—Kevin Kavanaugh, Brian Pierick and Tim Russell.
Three weeks later, Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch were also arrested and charged.
Besides being Walker’s constituent liaison, Wink was also co-vice-chair for the Republican Party of Milwaukee County. In addition to posting comments on blogs, Wink was found to be doing campaign work and fund raising for Walker. Wink ultimately struck a plea bargain with the DA, agreeing to cooperate with the investigation in return for a reduced sentence.
Walker appointed Kevin Kavanaugh to the Veterans Board. Kavanaugh has been charged with stealing money from the veterans fund Operation Freedom. Operation Freedom funds were meant for veterans and their families.
Tim Russell, a close friend of Walker’s, served in various positions for Walker in Milwaukee County, including economic development, deputy chief of staff and director of housing. Russell has also been charged with stealing from the veterans fund. Walker originally had kept control of this fund directly from his county executive’s office. After repeated warnings from the Ethics Board, Walker finally moved it out of his office, but then placed it under the control of a front group operated by Tim Russell. Besides, stealing from the veterans fund, Russell is accused of stealing from the campaigns of two politicians. Russell allegedly used some of the money he embezzled for Walker’s campaign, including Walker’s campaign website. By the way, Russell was also Treasurer of the Republican Party of Milwaukee County. Hopefully, they’ve done a careful audit of their books.
Tim Russell was cited in the complaint against Wink. Apparently, he’d directed her on what to do and assured her she wouldn’t go to jail.
Brian Pierick was Russell’s domestic and business partner. He was involved in Walker’s campaign, including administering Walker’s website up to the day he was arrested. The DA found evidence that Pierick was trying to entice a 17 year old boy for sexual purposes. Pierick was named in the complaint regarding Russell’s embezzlement charges. Pierick was the treasurer for one of the politicians and allegedly gave Russell access to the money.
Kelly Rindfleisch was personally hired and promoted by Walker to the Deputy Chief of Staff position vacated by Russell when he moved to Division of Housing. Rindfleisch is facing 4 counts of illegal politicking. She’s fighting those charges and is seeking a change of venue to her “home county of Columbia County”. By doing so, she’s admitting that she'd falsified her employment papers by claiming to be a Milwaukee County resident.
During the short time she worked for the county, Rindfleisch apparently sent out thousands of campaign-related emails. She’d been given immunity in the original caucus scandal investigation, so certainly should have known better. Rindfleisch not only worked for Walker’s campaign, she was the fund raiser for Brett Davis, whom Walker wanted to be his Lt. Governor.
The Rindfleisch complaint discusses a secret router email system that was used to bypass open records requests, which was clearly improper and illegal. Russell reportedly had set up that system. Cognitive Dissidence notes that the Rindfleisch complaint is a “who’s who of people that were involved with her campaign work.” They include Jim Villa (former Walker Chief of Staff and campaign advisor), Fran McLaughin (Walker’s county spokeswoman), Andrea Bloom (friend of Rindfleisch who eventually became Walker’s campaign finance director, Jill Bader (Walker’s campaign spokeswoman), Keith Gilkes (Walker’s campaign manager), Michael Grebe (Walker’s campaign chair), and Culllen Werwie (Walker’s gubernatorial spokesman).
The corruption investigation also focused on the bid competition to house Milwaukee County’s Department of Aging in private office space. (Until the end of 2010, the Dept. of Aging was housed in the Reuss Federal Building, with their lease ending that year.) Cognitive Dissidence points out that realtors involved in the process had given Walker donations around the time the contract talks started and that some names involved in Walker’s campaign and Walkergate are realtors, including Tim Russell, Jim Villa, John Hiller, Andrew Jensen (who was briefly detained for not cooperating with the investigation) and David Boerke, who was representing the Reuss Building owners.
Cognitive Dissidence also reminds us that several people have already been granted immunity in the John Doe investigation—the most notable being Cullen Werwie, who was first Brett Davis’ campaign chair, and is currently Walker’s gubernatorial spokesman.
Walker apologists will often say that Walker has nothing to do with the scandal since he’s not been charged with anything. (Not yet anyway)
But Cognitive Dissidence and others cite some Walker “smoking guns”, such as:
1. Walker surrounded himself with people who were involved in the caucus scandal ten years ago.
2. Following the resignation of staffer Darlene Wink from her county job, there was an email exchange between Scott Walker and Tim Russell . In his email, Walker states: “ I talked with her at home last night. Feel bad. She feels worse. We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during work day, etc.” That email was sent from Walker’s campaign email address to Tim Russell’s county address, three months after Russell left the county executive’s office! Cognitive Dissidence argues that Walker specifies exactly what kind of activities were happening and gave directions regarding them. Contrary to Walker’s claims, he did not order them to stop it because it was illegal, but because it harmed his campaign.
3. Walker hired expensive criminal defense attorneys and set up a legal defense fund. Walker started out claiming that he was not a target in the John Doe investigation and was only spending $200,000 so that he could be very, very cooperative. However, when people started looking into this, they found that the only way Walker could lawfully establish such a fund was if either he and/or one of his campaign staff were being investigated, charged and/or convicted of either illegal campaigning or violating campaign finance laws. And to date, none of his campaign staff has been charged.