A fish rots from the head down. Two staffers who worked directly for Gov. Scott Walker while he was county executive were charged Thursday with illegally doing extensive political work while being paid by taxpayers to do county jobs. This is in addition to the three aides of Scott Walker that were arrested on January 5, 2012.
UPDATE: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus now seems to be involved with the mess:
The criminal complaint said Wink, Walker's constituent services manager, exchanged numerous campaign-related messages with top Walker campaign staffers, including operations manager Joe Fadness, as well as Reince Preibus, then Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman and now head of the Republican National Committee.
In addition, Milwaukee County prosecutors expose what they say was a private email network created by top Walker aides to allow them to communicate with one another about campaign and county work without the public or co-workers' knowledge.
"It should be (illegal) because it defeats the public’s right to know," said Bob Dreps, an attorney who handles open records cases for clients such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "If it’s official business, it belongs in the official system."
Kelly Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff to Walker in 2010, faces four felony counts of misconduct in office for working for then-Rep. Brett Davis' 2010 campaign for lieutenant governor while on the county clock. Davis, who lost in the Republican primary, is now Walker's state Medicaid director.
The complaint says that Rindfleisch told a friend in an Internet chat shortly after taking the job with Walker that "half of what I'm doing is policy for the campaign."
During work hours between February 2010 and early July 2010, it says, Rindfleisch sent sent more than 300 emails to Davis and some 1,380 fundraising emails. The John Doe also turned up more than 1,000 emails between Rindfleisch and top staffers on Walker's 2010 campaign during work hours over the same period.
Also charged Thursday was Darlene Wink, Walker's one-time constituent services coordinator, who is facing two misdemeanor counts for using county resources to raise money for Walker's 2010 gubernatorial bid.
Wink, a former vice chair of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, resigned her county job in May 2010 after admitting to the Journal Sentinel that she was spending part of her work day doing campaign work.
According to the Rindfleisch complaint, Walker sent a private email to a top staffer in the wake of that controversy.
"We cannot afford another story like this one," Walker wrote to Timothy Russell, his longtime aide and adviser. "No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc."
Walker's state office and his campaign had no immediate comment on the criminal complaints. The first-term Republican governor canceled a Wausau event scheduled for Thursday, citing the poor weather in that area.
Each of the felony counts against Rindfleisch carries a maximum penalty of 3 1/2 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.
Rindfleisch's lawyer, Franklyn Gimbel, declined comment on the 57-page criminal complaint. Davis did not respond to repeated requests for comment made to his cell and office phones.
Peter Wolff, Wink's attorney, said his client is cooperating with the investigation and is hoping to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.
The three aides who were arrested on January 5th, 2012 are Tim Russell who had been with Walker as a campaign and county aide since 2002 was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor count of embezzlement.
Kevin Kavanaugh, a Walker appointee to the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission was charged with five felonies of theft and fraudulent writings by a corporate office. In a press conference Thursday, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm accused Kavanaugh of stealing more than $42,000 that was intended to provide for families of Wisconsin soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for wounded vets. Russell raised the donations at an annual event for veterans called Operation Freedom.
But instead of giving that money to Wisconsin vets, Russell transferred more than $20,000 into his personal accounts and used the money to pay for Caribbean and Hawaiian vacations, funded a political trip to Atlanta, Georgia for the organization of a presidential campaign.
Also charged and tied to Walker were Brian Pierck who was charged with two felony counts of child enticement and exposing genitals in a public area. Those charges emerged from the investigation after computers were seized.
In addition, Scott Walker has raised record breaking money in his bid to stave off a recall loss.....mainly supported by 33 contributors. All (probably) have the last name "Koch"
An Associated Press analysis of campaign finance reports Mr. Walker submitted Monday shows more than 60 percent of his money raised over the past five weeks came from out of state... The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a government watchdog group, says roughly half of the $4.5 million Mr. Walker raised over the past five weeks came from 33 individuals. The governor has raised $12.1 million since last year, the most ever by a Wisconsin candidate for governor.