Wondering about Walkergate, Brett Davis, and a couple billion dollars

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
– The Mourning Bride, William Congreve

It looks like Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican Party are making sure that Kelly Rindfleisch does not become “a woman scorned” by keeping her on a payroll. It’s not that they’re that into her. It’s that they’re into keeping thousands of emails that implicate Walker and Davis in something away from the prying eyes of prosecutors and the public.

As readers may remember, Kelly Rindfleisch is charged with four felony misconduct counts for her actions while working as an aide to a then Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf proclaimed in a memo released Friday that the loyalties of Rindfleisch, “rested, and continue to rest with those who have supported her since Nov. 1, 2010, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Friends of Scott Walker”.

The writers Dan Bice, Steve Schultze, and Chris Liebenthal of Cognitive Dissidence all cited that memo.

But Chris Liebenthal stated what Bice and Schultze could only dance around:

“To put it as plainly as possible, Walker and Priebus were buying her silence.”

More from that sentencing memo:

* Landgraf suggests that Rindfleisch chose to plead guilty to avoid introducing into the public record “many (indeed thousands) of private e-mails exchanged both by Kelly Rindfleisch and the Davis campaign, on the one hand, as well those exchanged by Ms. Rindfleisch and the Walker campaign, on the other hand. Rindfleisch chose a guilty plea rather than a right to an abbreviated court trial which she could later appeal and, if a victory were gained by Rindfleisch on appeal she could have complete exoneration.

* Landgraf adds that given the fact that Rindfleisch has an “accomplished and able defense counsel” that “in the State’s view there was no good personal reason for her not to accept the offer of an abbreviated court trial”.

* Landgraf reveals that Rindfleisch is still a political operative. She got work with the Friends of Scott Walker immediately after being fired from Milwaukee County and would then get a job with an email and web technology company that did around $500,000 of work for the Scott Walker campaign even though, as Landgraf puts it, “Ms. Rindfleisch has no known Information Technology skills”.

About Brett Davis, Medicaid, and $2 billion dollars

In his memo, Landgraf reveals that Rindfleisch’s emails “related to Davis fundraising” and that the emails were dated February 2, 2010 to July 2010. Landgraf also reveals that he believes Rindfleisch is so loyal to Brett Davis that it was and is useless to attempt to ask her to provide testimony against him.

Davis was at that time a Republican legislator running for Lieutenant Governor. Had he won that post he would have served next to his good friend Scott Walker. Brett Davis instead was appointed by Walker to serve as Wisconsin’s Medicaid director where he is in charge of about $7.5 billion dollars worth of healthcare. That means he’s in charge of Children’s
Waivers, Katie Beckett, any form of BadgerCare, Family Care, Partnership, Pace, IRIS, COP, CIP and SeniorCare. One in five Wisconsinites receives some form of these Medicaid-connected services.

If I allow myself to speculate for a moment, I wonder if it could be that the emails reveal relationships between campaign contributors that would eventually become private contractors who are given preferential treatment by Mr. Davis. My speculation allows me to wonder if there were early plans for Wisconsin to arrive at three times as many contract workers doling out Medicaid health dollars as there are public workers. I also wonder if there are answers in those emails as to why Wisconsin’s Medicaid agency would wind up not really knowing exactly how $2 billion was spent.

I went down this path for a spell this morning after I remembered watching Kathleen Vinehout give an interview on a warm day in April at the Capitol. You know, I’m getting old but I could have sworn she said something about some Medicaid money that went missing.

That dim memory got me to googling and exploring her blog. I found this:

“A recent audit of the state’s Medicaid system found $2 billion of the $7 billion program could not be assigned to the proper health program – be it Badger Care, FamilyCare or other programs. Part of the problem is the out-sourcing of 40% of the administration of our public health programs.

…The recent Medicaid audit found amendments were added to contracts that were not budgeted for, had never received legislative approval, were not competitively bid and the existence of which was never reported to the agency’s offices of procurement, budgeting and accounting.”

Forgive my common vernacular but it sounds like he’s doing whatever the hell he wants with that money.

If we struggle to give Mr. Davis the benefit of the doubt, it might go like this: Davis and company are exercising typical Tea Party philosophy which assumes that only private jobs are good jobs and if there’s more work to be done to provide Medicaid and associated programs to 1.2 million people, well then private contractors should do it.
Forgetting to keep track of what money comes out of which pot is just an OOPS. Arithmetic. It’s difficult.

If we instead look at Mr. Davis with a critical eye, we wonder if the shift to private contractors was intended – even promised – while Mr. Davis was campaigning. We wonder if Mr. Davis and friends were intending to contract services out so as to escape public oversight. We wonder if while private contracts were promised to campaign donors, if there were also plans to slough off valid would-be beneficiaries – Wisconsin taxpayers. We wonder if very early on plans were made to bully Wisconsinites away from services by using an antagonistic “Medicaid fraud” squad – despite the reality that only 0.005 of 1% of Medicaid spending has been revealed to be fraud by patients.

I’m no policy expert. However what I’ve laid out here leaves me wondering about Brett Davis and the $2 billion dollars. And the emails.

A not so subtle tip from Landgraf’s memo:

* Landgraf says Davis is “most conspicuous by virtue of the fact that he remains uncharged”.

Court Time to Come

Per the blog Cognitive Dissidence, the cast of Walkergate characters will be in your newspapers and in court shortly and through the end of the year:
“Rindfleisch gets sentenced Monday. Wink gets sentenced (maybe) on Wednesday. Kavanaugh’s sentencing date is December 7. Russell’s hearing is December 3 and Pierick’s hearing isn’t until next year.”

More on Rindfleisch
Rindfleisch pleaded guilty to 1 count of felony misconduct in office for doing campaign work at her government job. Several newspaper accounts say Milwaukee Co. prosecutors have already agreed to recommend probation and jail time for Rindfleisch, not prison. Landgraf noted that due to her time in the Wisconsin caucus scandal there really are not excuses: “she knew better than to once again become involved in campaign activity while on taxpayer time”.

But Rindfliesch gets off easy because she has cut a deal. She agreed to help prosecutors with Russell’s case. It would seem Mr. Russell is a man soon thrown under a bus:
“As part of her plea agreement, she will have to help prosecutors in their ongoing John Doe investigation. Landgraf says Rindfleisch might be called as a witness against former Walker official Tim Russell, who’s charged with embezzling $21,000 from a county program that recognizes veterans. That trial is due to begin Dec. 3.”- source: Hudson Star Reporter

“Hey. I just can’t get enough information about Medicaid in Wisconsin. Got more?”
Sure. Here ya go.
Feds OK Walker plans to cut Medicaid costs
Thousands to be dropped from state health care

The L.A.B. Audit, a 100 page PDF.

Wisconsin Hospital Association memo on the LAB audit, a 2 pge. PDF.
Tidbits from that WHA memo:
Wisconsin’s Medicaid program pays only 63 cents for every $1 worth of hospital services.
From 2006 to 2010 medicaid patient #’s in Wisconsin went up by 38 percent, while expenditures grew
from $5.0 billion to $7.5 billion, or about 50 percent.


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