This is the day many of us were waiting for: The release of John Doe documents and emails from the trial of Kelly Rindfleisch ordered by the courts following a successful lawsuit filed by news organizations.
Rindfleisch was a former top aide to Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive and one of 6 people convicted in the first John Doe investigation. She is out while she appeals her conviction and 6 month prison sentence on misconduct in office (performing fundraising and campaign work while on the taxpayers dime).
The documents are still being reviewed, but information is coming out
WHAT WE NOW KNOW
1. The original John Doe Probe was expanded the day before Walkers election as Governor.
The documents reveal Nov. 1, 2010, was a busy day for investigators and prosecutors in the case.Important to note is that only Rindfleisch was ever charged (also convicted). No indictments or charges were filed on any of the others. Moore continues to serve as Walkers scheduler.
They conducted raids at Walker's Milwaukee County executive office, his campaign office and the homes of several of his aides, including Kelly Rindfleisch. Those details spilled out Wednesday after a Court of Appeals judge ordered the unsealing of about 27,000 emails to and from Rindfleisch, as well as 434 pages of search warrants, affidavits and a hearing transcript.
At the request of Milwaukee County prosecutors, John Doe Judge Neal Nettesheim enlarged the probe that day to include Rindfleisch, his deputy chief of staff, and three other top aides in the Milwaukee County executive's office — Tom Nardelli, his chief of staff; Fran McLaughlin, his spokeswoman; and Dorothy Moore, his scheduler.
It's also important to note that information on the search warrants wasn't widely disseminated to the public despite the fact that the searches were performed the day before the election and involved the offices of one of the candidates for Governor. That knowledge might have changed more than a few minds about whom they were voting for.
2. Suspected, but not proven was the strong connection between Walkers County Executives Office and his campaign organization.
The records make clear that Walker's campaign staff and county team were in constant communication in the months leading up to the 2010 primary and general election.
In April 2010, Nardelli and Walker's campaign manager, Keith Gilkes, arranged for daily 8 a.m. conference calls between the campaign and key county staff.
"These will not be long duration calls as we have much work on our plates, but good coordination will help (us) resolve issues before they blow out of proportion," Nardelli wrote.
On May 18, 2010, Walker's administration director, Cynthia Archer, wrote to campaign and county staff she would not longer be checking her private email account and told people to contact her on her cellphone for urgent matters.Using taxpayer funded offices while on taxpayer time for campaigning is illegal. And this is how the original John Doe started - when Darlene Wink, an aide to County Executive Scott Walker was revealed to be posing online blog comments (likely using more than 1 account) during work time to support Walker and bash his opponent. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel traced the IP address to the County Courthouse and then to the County Executives Office.
"The significant of this email is that it shows that the people addressed on this email are acting in concert and the county executive staff to find alternative ways to communicate using private email during the workday," David Budde, an investigator for the district attorney, testified in the Nov. 1, 2010, secret hearing. "This also is a direct admission that Archer was using private email during the workday."
3. We now know that another pro-Walker website was created by the boyfriend of another Walker aide, Timothy Russell (who was also charged and convicted in the original John Doe).
Records released Wednesday show that it was Brian Pierick, the boyfriend of longtime Walker staffer TimothyD. Russell who was convicted in the John Doe investigation of Walker's county aides.
More important, Walker signed off on the name for the anonymous site.
Russell sent an email to Walker in August 2009 saying the author of the retiredoyle.blogspot.com website wanted to set up a new website using scottforgov.blogspot.com "unless you have any objection to the name."
"No prob," Walker responded.
Russell then wrote Pierick: "Approved."
"Russell would receive this (campaign-related) research from Pierick during county business hours and Russell would routinely forward these emails to campaign personnel, including Scott Walker, during normal county business hours," Budde wrote.
The website was directly connected to the URL for another anonymous pro-Walker blog, milwaukeecountyexecutivescottwalkerforgovernor.com. Investigators said in the records that Russell paid for that website.
That website was shut down shortly after Darlene Wink, another top Walker aide, resigned her position after it was revealed in a newspaper blog that she was doing extensive pro-Walker blogging while she should have been doing work for Milwaukee County. The article on the campaign activity led to Walker sending an email to Russell, who was then Walkers appointee to head the housing authority, on May 14, 2010 that said:
"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 the work day, etc."
Speaking to reporters in Madison Wednesday morning before the release of the emails, Walker said he was confident that there wouldn't be anything damaging in them beyond what had already led to criminal charges. He downplayed his relationship with his former deputy chief of staff and said he would stay focused on cutting taxes and creating jobs.Uh huh... He barely knew these people, it's "old news", he's not involved, it's "not as bad" as the caucus scandal (that removed several State Legislators from office), and, of course, "it's just politics" and the Democrats are terrible people to even bring this up and wanting bad things to happen to Wisconsin.
"This is going to be communications from a county employee from several years ago that went through a legal process that concluded early last year. I'm confident that through that process they were able to review each of those communications — the authorities were — and they concluded that process last March," Walker said.
The governor said he hadn't seen the files being released and hadn't looked at any of the emails contained in them "for years." He made a distinction between a taxpayer-funded public employee doing work on a campaign and another public employee getting emails from a campaign.
"Unlike the caucus issue where the problem was official staff being directed to (do) campaign activity...There's nothing wrong with the other way around, as long as you're not using taxpayer resources to do campaign-related activity. Outside of this example, we talk to people all the time, stakeholders from around the state," Walker said, referring to the caucus scandal that rocked the Capitol a decade ago.
Walker blasted Democrats for hyping the release of the emails and for holding a conference call on them with Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
"It shows the cynicism we see in politics today," Walker said. "These are people who are naysayers who want something bad to happen in Wisconsin."
Dude, have you been coaching Chris Christie?
And, in terms of wanting bad things to happen to Wisconsin, allow me to break the news that YOU and your band of Not So Merry Men are the folks who are bringing bad things to Wisconsin.
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I'm sifting through a whole pile of information and will be adding to this diary. I wanted to post something now, but stay tuned for more.
Here's a link to a Washington Post article prior to the document release that provides a nice summary of the investigation and notes that Walker was copied on several of the emails released.
If Walker can be proven to have known about the secret router and use of private email accounts to circumvent public disclosure laws, it would not only be damaging to him politically, but involve him in the misconduct that occurred.
Twitter feed for updates on #walkerdocs is here.
The Progressives live blog on the document dump is here.
Important information is coming out in real time on both sites as over 28,000 pages of documents are being reviewed.
This post on one of my favorite Wisconsin Blogs, Uppity Wisconsin, is uploading links to massive pdf files containing the documents. They are also posting on Twitter using the #walkerdocs hastag as developments occur.
An article on what to watch for in the Capitol Times.
Think Progress has posted an article indicating that the emails suggest Walker knew or was involved in the campaign/office coordination.
Newly released emails and records from a former deputy Chief of Staff to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) suggest that the governor may have been involved in — or at least aware of — illegal coordination between his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and his Milwaukee County Executive office. The release comes as a second probe continues, examining Wisconsin’s 2012 recall elections.
If, as the chief investigator believed, Walker knew about the secret wireless network, it could mean trouble for Walker, who has previously denied any knowledge of his aides’ wrongdoing. Walker will face Wisconsin voters again this November, as he seeks a second term as governor, and has been held up as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.And, of course, their bottom line (mine, too):
This all comes at a rough time for prominent Republican governors who were once considered rising stars and possible White House contenders. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is currently under investigation for the Bridgegate scandal and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted on 14 felony counts last month relating to their gifts scandal.EVEN MORE UPDATES:
Ruth Coniff chimes in at The Progressive with another great article. She believes Snotty is in hot water starting today. The article is well worth a read, but let me give you a teaser:
The underlying theme of dark money which has poured into Wisconsin at an unprecedented rate during the Walker era -- and the shadowy players who back Walker's anti-union, anti-regulatory, anti-tax, and anti-public-education agenda -- is the backdrop to the current John Doe.THIS STORY IS GOING NATIONAL
Despite aggressive efforts to stop the John Doe, including a federal lawsuit filed on February 10 by Wisconsin Club For Growth against the prosecutors and the John Doe judge, no one in the state Republican Party or allied rightwing groups seems to have been able to stop the Rindfleisch emails from coming out.
The Progressive just announced that Ruth Coniff will be on Chris Hayes All In on MSNBC tonight.
There's also a nice article by Steve Benen on Rachel Maddows show blog so I'd expect her to have a segment, too.
On top of that, I expect that Ed Schultz will have a segment, as well, considering how much he has been involved and interested in Wisconsin news.
And now there's a nice article on Slate asking if this is Walkers Bridgegate. Let's hope so. Our media has been pro-Walker for far too long. A national outing is in order.
And another in Talking Points Memo where another racist email was exposed:
• Walker aide Nardelli forwarded a bizarre and racist email that read, "Say it isn't so!!! I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat."Just yuck.
3:39 PM PT: The Progressive liveblog is done for today, but they promise more to come.
4:14 PM PT: Having been at this for hours now, I'm in need of a break and some dinner.
Bottom line seems to indicate that Walker knew about the router and email accounts being used to circumvent the law.
The other stunning revelations include the amount of frank racism in several of the emails.
I'll be back later tonight and likely posting again on the same topic tomorrow as 2800 PAGES of documents were dumped.
4:16 PM PT: The other news is Walkers attempt to crowd other things into the news to move attention from the emails. He's pondering firing someone who was a thong model years ago and Republicans are rolling out a tax cut plan.
They're hoping that THESE are the stories people see and if the media is, as they have been, pandering Walker poodles, these are the stories we'll be seeing tonight instead of the bad news in the emails.