Smoking is good for you and so is Scott Walker

Cognitive Dissidence dug into the records of exactly how Scott Walker spent a half a million dollars on his defense against the John Doe investigation in 2012 (the one he is merely “cooperating” with).

He learned that Scott Walker gave around $10,000 of his defense funds to pay an international PR firm called APCO Worldwide that, among other things, once created a front group for Philip Morris called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition or “TASSC”.  TASSC was tasked with fighting EPA’s “junk science” around second hand smoke.

Clearly there’s no job too repugnant for professionals like APCO. Get the details.

Walkergate: Why did the newspaper leave that out? (And lots of other questions)

I’m finally back to talking Walkergate. No rush, really. This whole thing isn’t wrapping up anytime soon (all “hopes” aside).

Timothy Russell is looking at 30 months of initial confinement and 30 months of supervision for 1 felony count of embezzlement. If you’re not acquainted with the situation, you can catch up with an article by Schultze in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – but there are a couple of BIG problems with it.

First, the paper does not note that Judge Hansher asked Bruce Landgraf to conduct a pre-sentencing investigation with the added comment,
“I have some questions here. There are some things I’m not sure about.”

I know about it because I was present. I’d refer you to some sort of C-SCPAN-style video right about now but there is none available. There is 1 video camera allowed in the court which is commandeered by the official media for their own internal use. TMJ4 had camera duty that day.

We can only hope for a revealing sentencing presentation after the investigation such as that of Kelly Rindfleisch’s hearing which let the public know that “the mixing of county and campaign business was a routine practice, and was carried out with the knowledge of high level officials, including Scott Walker” as WUWM put it.

Second, the paper does not include the facts that let you know Scott Walker was lying about his full cooperation with the DA.
The paper says Tom Nardelli alerted the Milwaukee County DA of a shortfall of about $11,000 in “Operation Freedom” money in 2009
neglects to note that the reason the investigation turned into a secret one – – known as a “John Doe” probe in Wisconsin — is because Scott Walker’s office stonewalled the DA. And the reason that you and I came to know this is because Timothy Russell’s own legal representation, Dennis Krueger, let the cat out of the bag by directing a document straight to reporter Daniel Bice – of the very same newspaper I am chastising right now: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Little historical bonus, here: Dennis Krueger let that out just as Walker was readying himself to debate his then political opponent Tom Barrett in late May.

Russell wasn’t being very nice to Walker, was he.

Compared to Kelly Reindfleish, Timothy Russell got thrown clear under the bus. Rindfleisch got bought out by sponsored legal representation and highly-paid jobs from Walker and friends. As Landgraf put it, “it is my judgement that her loyalties rested and continue to rest with those who have supported her since November 1, 2010 viz. the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Friends of Scott Walker”.
Rindfleisch did go so far as to admit she used a secret network installed by Russell to raise money for Brett Davis, the guy who was running for Lt. Governor back in the day and who currently presides over the Medicaid program (that can’t quite account for where $2 billion in Medicaid funds went to but whatever. Nobody is freaking out about that.). But that’s where it stops. Rindfleisch was so protective of Davis that Landgraf seems to have, in frustration, despaired of pegging him on a crime. Davis is according to Landgraf, “most conspicuous by virtue of the fact that he remains uncharged”.

I have the funny feeling there’s a hint in there …can’t quite put my finger on it.

In contrast, Timothy Russell’s current legal representation is provided by Parker Mathers, a youthful attorney whose freckled and suited form reminds me of those wholesome Sears catalogs we had in the house when I was a kid. Mathers is a public defender, a court-appointed attorney who came on the case in August 2012. He’s the 2nd Democratic Party-affiliated lawyer that’s worked with Russell (Michael Maistelman was the other) and his 5th attorney in all. Russell first retained Democratic Party-affiliated attorney Maistelman (a smidge less wholesome, a lot more experienced) who then had a dispute with Andrew Franklin – a 2nd high power attorney brought on the case – because money was in short supply. Then came John Birdsall. Birdsall was only on the case for 16 days and withdrew. Dennis Krueger then came on the scene and then walked off the case when he got a job in Fond du Lac County as a prosecutor there.

Did Walker and company lure attorneys away in an effort to delay the Walkergate case as long as possible – certainly until after the elections? (Feel free to reply with one of those “Does ____ shit in the woods?” responses in comments.)

Why has the friendship between Russell and Walker dissolved so?
One guess is because Russell is (was?) a romantic partner to Brian Pierick, the guy who tried to hook up with a 17 year old in what’s been nicknamed “the porn van”. By association with that activity, Russell is just too toxic for Walker to protect or link to in any way.

While technically the 17-year-old nicknamed “DR” lied by saying he was 19-years-old on Craigslist when he tried to connect with “a daddy”, there’s also the fact that a search of the computers in Russell and Pierick’s home revealed porn of males age 12-19. [full criminal complaint]

My time is running out and I have to move on. So I leave you with one last puzzlement:
If Timothy Russell isn’t getting charged with installing a secret wireless computer system in Scott Walker’s office -and as far as we can tell, he is not because that is not “embezzlement”- then who IS going to be charged with that?
Would the prosecutor just let that go?

What’s next.
Kevin Kavanaugh will be sentenced for a felony theft conviction Dec. 7. Kavanaugh faces up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine for stealing more than $51,000 – mostly from Operation Freedom.

Brian Pierick faces a motion hearing on January 22nd, 2013 at 2:30PM in Room 162 of the Waukesha County Courthouse – 515 W. Moreland Blvd.

Timothy Russell has a court appointment the same day but in the morning- Jan. 22, 2013 at 8:30AM.

Could be a fascinating day for news in Wisconsin.

On the Timothy Russell plea deal and sentence. Judge Hansher: “I have some questions here”

All image rights reserved by the blue cheddar blog

A brief dispatch I’m filing from a bench outside the Milwaukee County courthouse which will be fleshed out in a few hours
with a description of the courtroom scene and more:

Today prosecutor Bruce Landgraf recommended a sentence for former Scott Walker aide Timothy Russell and also offered up a plea deal. Landgraf recommended a sentence of 30 months of initial confinement and 30 months of supervision following that for 1 felony count of embezzlement of over $10,000 (Russell was initially charged with three counts of theft in January of 2012). Landgraf said the sentence is intended to be the “full settlement” of all charges in Russell’s criminal complaint.  Prosecution also requested that he pay restitution of $28,000.

Judge David A. Hansher recited a litany of clarifying questions to Russell to make sure he realized he will lose the right to vote while carrying out his punishment and he waives rights to a jury trial and similar.

The only thing the judge offered outside of the boilerplate questions he was required to ask: he requires a pre-sentencing investigation.
“I have some questions here.  There are some things I’m not sure about.”

Remember that the Kelly Rindfleisch pre-sentencing hearing is what divulged numerous details that implicated Scott Walker directly in the illegal comingling of county employee and campaign worker time and activity — or certainly that’s what it looked like given that Scott Walker himself was included on the damning emails revealed by Landgraf. Thus the judge’s questions and interest in further investigation assure us that there will be more revelations and implications to come.

Russell’s bail remains the same.

Scott Walker. Putt putt. Vroom vroom.

I've been waiting a long time for an excuse to show this dorky photo of Walker on a Harley.



Here’s a development on the John Doe case which got my attention as I rode the bus to Milwaukee today.

A Rice Lake Harley Davidson vendor is suing the Milwaukee County prosecutor Bruce Landgraf over his pursuit of details on a credit card purchase. The Harley seller, Christopher Brekken of Rice Lake, contends that Landgraf has it in for him.

The seemingly frivolous lawsuit is less interesting than the fact that it brings attention to a forgotten fact: that a certain former Milwaukee County executive and current governor was known to tool around the state on a cycle too cool for him on even his best days.

And of course if that’s interesting to a prosecutor, then it becomes interesting to the Walkergate watcher at large.

As penned by Bruce Vielmetti in M.J. Sentinel: “As county executive, Walker took annual motorcycle tours around Wisconsin to promote Milwaukee County, including in 2009 and 2010 when he was also running for governor.”

Brekken’s lawsuit will be discussed in a telephone conference on Friday in Barron County before Judge James Babbitt.


Another interesting photo I ran into in the line of blogging duty. The dude with the grey beard is the notorious Dave Zien. You may remember him from that time he visited the rotunda and tried to run people’s feet over with his wheelchair while yelling “Walker for President!”. Yesirree, that was quite a day. 

Walker dodges the public, promises the moon. I mean “The Mine”.

Scott Walker is back from the woods (he went hunting) and is now on the road in one of those black SUVs he loves so much, careening from business to business in a hastily arranged “Talk to Walker” tour.

Walker’s cheesy video [as seen below] was released Monday. A twitter pal was carping that there was no information about where and when he was appearing to rub shoulders with the great people of this fine state.

The TV station WAOW broke in to tweet: “Gov. Walker will be at ACE Marine in Green Bay at 3:30 today. We have not received word on other locations yet.”

Phew! Good thing some of can be quickly informed. Sadly we were still ignorant that the event was private. What a gaff for those who got word and showed up unannounced and uninvited!

I hope the folks at ACE understood the confusion.
Scott Walker called this a “conversation with you the people of Wisconsin” not “a conversation with you the corporations who are people too”.

There’s also a curious matter of timing.

You don’t suppose our Governor is hurrying to busy the press with something else as the Thursday sentencing of Timothy Russell approaches? You know – the one that includes the plea deal that may or may not yield a conviction on higher ups but given that prosecutor Bruce Landgraf gave 65 minutes worth of here-to-fore unreleased genuine grade A dirt on the intermingling of conniving county staff and campaign staff AND SCOTT WALKER back in 2010 the other day at Kelly Rindfleisch’s sentencing – well we’re at least to be guaranteed a nice Walkergate story out of the deal.

(I know. That wasn’t really a sentence back there. Sometimes these things have to be done.)

The “Talk with Walker” appearances are private events which include only select Walker-friendly organizations and their captive employees. My hat’s off to anybody gutsy enough to go against their indoctrination to needle the honored guest on education cuts, lost worker rights, unregulated sand mining, what he thinks about government control over Wisconsin uteri, and so on but – – a lot of people are fearful to mix their personal politics and work especially if the boss “stands with” Walker.

The only way the “Talk with Walker” tour could find audiences more captive is to pencil in a few prisons.

And here’s a report on the ACE visit from FOX 11:

Told Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce …. Mining

I got word of this from Mary Spicuzza. (Good of Governor Walker to allow the press to enter these events.)
“Gov. Scott Walker urged quick passage of an iron mining bill in early 2013 at a Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce event Wednesday at Monona Terrace.

He encouraged those in the crowd to contact Republican and Democratic lawmakers and voice support for mining legislation. And he later told reporters that he is confident Gogebic Taconite will return to Wisconsin.”

So that’s a mining bill in maybe January or February. That should distract quite a bite from the continuing John Doe probe which will be occurring simultaneously.

Yes, reader, despite Walker saying that he “hopes” that the Walkergate A.K.A. “John Doe” investigation on his Milwaukee County affairs would end shortly, such is not at all possible [some outlets reported that he said it “would” end]. He delivered those remarks to the Dairy Business Association (Another organization worthy of his time. So noted.).

AP dutifully spoke with Waukesha County Judge Neal Nettesheim on Wednesday who said that such talk was “pure conjecture” and
“The John Doe is not completed.. It is still open.” I think I could’ve told you that just by looking at the court schedule. But I do appreciate that the AP pursued the quotes. It is tough to pick out fact from fiction during these Orwellian days.

Taxes Too
NBC 15 reported at that WMC event as well: “Gov. Scott Walker says he’s still trying to determine whether an income tax cut or a property tax cut, or some combination of the two, is the best way to return money to taxpayers.” and “.. the only question he has is where is the best place to cut taxes to help the middle class.”

What laser-like focus he has, eh? He has only ONE question. Truly his power to ignore vast swaths of public inquiry and outcry is astounding.

If you have the steel stomach required for Scott Walker’s brand of low on facts and high on cheese boosterism, click on the video below:

Walkergate: emails of Scott Walker’s conniving staff are revealed in court

Prosecutor Bruce Landgraf made a very strong case against Scott Walker’s former aide Rindfleisch, Monday. You can review Landgraf’s 78-page presentation below and I’ve pulled out a few of the more sordid details.

Landgraf makes clear that campaign staff, a media contractor, county staff, Scott Walker, and the GOP are all mixing it up with no regard for the walls, by law, they should have imposed between government and political operatives and their activities. To make his case, he’s shared emails that Walker’s team never thought would see the light of day.

We see how Walker’s team connived to shape news that would favor Walker and sully the image of his 2010 contender for the Wisconsin governor seat, Tom Barrett. By including these examples, Landgraf dredges up the stories Scott Walker would just as soon you forget. In fact, perhaps you’ve never heard of them. I remember discovering these tales online and feeling sure Walker couldn’t get the governor’s seat. Those were the days.

Landgraf starts out solidly establishing the basics: that Rindfleisch knew the rules and that she created thousands of emails for Brett Davis’ campaign on Milwaukee County time. Page 36 establishes that county staff and campaign staff are tossing themselves into one pot – doing a conference call at the county office. The people listed on that email who gathered to work together are:

Keith Gilkes, Friends of Scott Walker campaign manager.
Thomas Nardelli, Chief of Staff for Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County Executive Office
Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker’s then aide
Cynthia Archer, then an aide to Scott Walker in Milwaukee County. More recently a former deputy administration secretary to Scott Walker in Madison.
Fran McLaughlin, Milwaukee County spokeswoman 2007 – 2010. She was granted immunity in the John Doe investigation on May 31, 2012.
John Myhre, then deputy Milwaukee County spokesman.
Timothy Russell, then aide and the IT guy who set up a secret wireless network a short walk from Scott Walker’s old Milwaukee County desk. Russell has been charged with embezzling $21,699.85 from the HGPS or Heritage Guard Preservation Society, a fund for widows and children of deceased veterans. Russell’s been with Walker since he ran for county executive in 2002.
R.J. Johnson, a Scott Walker advisor.
Jill Bader, then Communications Director for Scott Walker. She gained national notoriety for retweeting a questionable tweet when President Obama visited Wisconsin

By the time we get to the CEX pages at 42, alarm bells will go off in your head if you know much of anything about Milwaukee County political history.

“BHD” at page 45 refers to Behavioral Health Division. BHD oversees the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex where critics say Walker’s efforts to cut costs, privatize, and shortchange staff opened up opportunities for abuse.

On page 47, Landgraf includes an email discussion on psychiatrist Karl Strelnick. I presume that “MJS” refers to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and that the group has been discussing what it is they can tell the paper about who is supervising Strelnick and other details. What’s very odd here is that the email makes clear that he’ll appeal charges and if he wins, he’ll practice again in “MI county”. I presume that means Milwaukee County.

Strelnick is a figure who probably shouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of a mental health facility again. What kind of connection do they have with this guy?

Strelnick was suspended without pay in August of 2010. In 2006 one of Strelnick’s patients, Cindy Anczak, died from starvation complications at the same complex.
“Details of Anczak’s death come just days after a report by state inspectors that found 26 health and safety violations, more than twice the number found in the previous inspection three years ago.” In 1987 Strelnick admitted to having sex with 2 patients, over 100 times with 1 of them. More on him here.

What draws a line of responsibility between Scott Walker and the grave conditions at the complex: county lawyers withheld a 2008 consultant’s report on the Mental Health Complex from the county auditor and Walker defended that decision.

The individuals included on that email on Strelnick are:
Jill Bader
Frank McLaughlin
Scott Walker
Patrick Hogan
Tom Nardelli

Hogan is currently a policy assistant in Walker’s Madison office. At the time of the email, he was a “Personal Aide to Scott Walker” at “Friends of Scott Walker” per his LinkedIn.

The fact that Strelnick – perhaps the most easily identified bad actor in the institution – was allowed to persist as a caregiver at the M.C.M.H.Complex is a scandal. The online world was well aware of horrific conditions at Milwaukee County’s chief mental health institution when Walker was at the healm of Milwaukee County gov’t. The statewide voting public was not.

We also see in these documents that Rindfleisch has plans to extract government information for a story, but she needs to do it in a stealthy manner. It seems she’s set on trying to throw a journalist or journalists off of Walker’s trail.

She’s in communication with campaign operatives in the conversation.
On page 63 “This needs to be done covertly so it’s not tied to Scott, the county, or the campaign in any way.” is her message to Stephen Thompson. Rindfleisch refers to a message from M. Lisa which says “Freedom of Information Act – I would suggest more covert.” It’s clear from another email Landgraf has included that the conversation refers to an email from Rindfleisch to Keith Gilkes (the Friends of Scott Walker Campaign Manager) about “The contact for open records on Mendota and their failure to be in compliance”.

It becomes clear by the time we flip to page 64 that they’re worried about a reporter that threatens to take down somebody and “There has to be a way to blow up the Mendota story before they attack Scott”. Note that Landgraff has enlarged the text – which means that you and I could be getting a slightly censored or manipulated version of the truth here since we’re not able to read the emails in their entirety.
Other text he’s enlarged is “dee whatshername could be a candidate”.

Dee J. Hall is with and also works at times for Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, I assume this refers to her. It would seem that they’ve located a story she did about an episode of abuse at Mendota Mental Health institute entitled, “Beaten Mendota patient wants action” and they used that in a campaign effort.

They say “could be a candidate” in reference to Dee which leads one to infer the team had worked to influence her or use her in some way.

For the purposes of Landgraf’s prosecution, slide 77 is the closing slide – the clincher – and the phrase I expect we’re going to hear repeated again many times.

Kelly Rindfleisch, the county worker, informs Keith Gilkes, Walker’s campaign manager that, “You guys are in the driver’s seat”.

Former Scott Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation on Monday. She did get jail time, but who knows if she’ll actually serve it. Her sentence was “stayed pending an appeal”. The judge also said she could get work release privileges, and serve her time in Columbia County close to home.

(I would rather she stay here in liberal Dane County, the 7th circle of hell for Wisconsin conservatives.)

After Milwaukee County prosecutor Bruce Landgraf’s presentation in court on Monday, Franklyn Gimbel said the only person mentioned in its 65 minutes who was facing jail time was his client, Kelly Rindfleisch.

“Scott Walker has not been accused of any wrongdoing,” Gimbel said, raising both hands in exasperation.

If Gimbel is exasperated, just imagine how I feel.

Note for future reference:
Page 24 may yield interesting leads since the individuals are a list of high-level Republicans affiliated with Brett Davis’ campaign for Lieutenant Governor at the time.

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.

Money in Walker’s campaign coffers can be used to fight John Doe investigation

Something smells rotten in Wisconsin. Consider if you will that a politician in Wisconsin can raise unlimited funds while opponents ready his recall.

Then consider that any of those campaign funds can be transferred to defend the aforementioned crook against allegations of “a violation of either campaign finance laws or prohibited elections practices”.

Scott Walker has created a special legal fund to defend himself in the event that he is charged formally in the John Doe investigation.

I was upset with that “OPEN FOR BUSINESS” sign Walker put on the state. Little did I know we already had an “OPEN FOR CRIMINAL ELECTION ACTIVITY” sign on display.

From Sheboygan Press:
“Gov. Scott Walker announced Friday he has formed a legal fund to pay for expenses related to the ongoing John Doe investigation into his close associates and former aides, a move that raises questions about whether he is a target of the probe….”

“Wisconsin statutes forbid state government officials from seeking or obtaining contributions to a so-called defense fund to pay personal legal expenses, except for the transfer of campaign contributions to a defense fund for limited reasons allowed under the state’s campaign finance laws.

That exception is for government officials being investigated for or charged with a violation of either campaign finance laws or prohibited elections practices….”

What do you think of the Walkergate ad?

What do you think about the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s new Walkergate ad?

I’m seeing some folks comment that it’s reaching a bit – that the comparison is not accurate. And you might say that his radical agenda is fodder enough for any ad so why go for the John Doe investigation which will conclude in an unknown way.

Honestly, I find myself loving it.

By the way – If you don’t like my blog comment system visit me at facebook or at twitter.

Here’s the Wisconsin Dems statement on their ad:

“Our thirty-second television spot notes the similarities between the Watergate scandal that resulted in Richard Nixon resigning in disgrace, and the vast criminal network being uncovered by the ongoing John Doe criminal corruption probe,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday. “This ad will run in multiple markets across Wisconsin and will represent a rolling-buy supported by the small-dollar donations that have sustained our effort — in stark contrast to the sleazy piles of corporate cash on which Walker relies and, ironically, which highlight our belief that at the core of our “Walkergate” scandal is the idea that rules need not apply.”

What if Scott Walker resigns?

Rumors that Scott Walker will be arrested in short order fly everywhere this week. While it’s hard to know if statements that begin with “I have sources who have sources who say” have any validity, they have me wondering: What if Walker resigns?

There’s an equally valid question: “Is Walker sane enough to resign if he does get arrested?” I don’t assume he is. But let’s set that aside for the moment.

According to statements from GAB’s staff attorney Mike Hoss, the outcome would depend on a 20 day window of time around the certification of the recalls of Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch.

IF you examine the Wisconsin Constitution, you will find in Article V. Section 7. the following:

“Lieutenant Governor, When Governor

(1) Upon the governor’s death, resignation or removal from office, the lieutenant governor shall become governor for the balance of the unexpired term.

(2) If the governor is absent from this state, impeached, or from mental or physical disease, becomes incapable of performing the duties of the office, the lieutenant governor shall serve as acting governor for the balance of the unexpired term or until the governor returns, the disability ceases or the impeachment is vacated. But when the governor, with the consent of the legislature, shall be out of this state in time of war at the head of the state’s military force, the governor shall continue as commander in chief of the military force.”

Note that the constitution does not specifically address the precarious nature of the governor’s office whilst it is under threat of both recall and indictment. If Kleefisch is bumped up to the position of Governor how does this impact her recall election for Lieutenant Governor?

To learn more, Jack Craver called Mike Hoss, staff attorney with the Government Accountability Board.

From Craver’s column Politiscope :

If Walker resigned within 10 days of the recall petitions being certified by the GAB, he would not be on the ballot and other Republicans would be able to vie for the nomination in a primary. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch would become acting governor and could appoint a new lieutenant governor. Nothing, however, would stop the recall election from going forward.

The winner of the gubernatorial election would assume the office, replacing Kleefisch. Facing her own recall election, Kleefisch would return to the lieutenant governor’s post if she wins.

However, if Walker were to resign more than 10 days after the recall petitions are certified, his name would still appear on the ballot. Assuming voters would not favor an indicted, resigned governor, Republicans would likely be forced to mount some type of write-in campaign to try to prevent the Democratic nominee from being elected.

Sounds very reasonable but it is the interpretation of the staff of GAB and not spelled out in the state constitution. You know what that means: ligitgation from Walker through Michael Best and Friedrich – his highly educated and highly paid besuited scumbags.

Thus it’s an easy layperson’s guess that *if Walker were to resign in the course of the recall election or in close proximity to it* [and again, doubtful he would resign], the governor’s office would be in a sort of limbo with the decision ultimately kicked up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That’s where Wisconsin Act 10 wound up and where Scott Walker ultimately got his way.

The ideal situation, as long as we’re talking hypotheticals, would be a successful petition for recall of Walker and Kleefisch accompanied by a rigorous primary run-off between the Dems and a simultaneous ongoing investigation into the cronies of Scott Walker which thusly delivers a steady stream of details on Walker’s corrupt and nefarious dealings to include those of Reince Priebus [head of the Wisconsin GOP during Walker’s stint as Milwaukee County Executive and now Chair of the Republican Nation Committee]. The arrest of both of those right wing cliff dwellers would then ideally come right after the successful election of my state’s new governor.

It is but a dream. But a Wisconsinite can dream, right? Anything is possible in Wisconsin.

*Why question Scott Walker’s sanity?
First off, I don’t really mean to say he has no grip of reality. But I do think his delusions of grandeur give him only a loose grasp of it.

I refer the reader to this little passage from a transcript of his call with the David Koch imposter, blogger Ian Murphy. It is his own description of his moment with his cabinet the Monday before he “dropped the bomb” in which he holds a portrait of Ronald Reagan:

“Came home from the Super Bowl where the Packers won, and that Monday night I had all of my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were gonna do, how we were gonna do it. We’d already kinda built plans up, but it was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb. And I stood up and I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan, and I said, you know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers. And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover. And, uh, I said this may not have as broad of world implications, but in Wisconsin’s history — little did I know how big it would be nationally — in Wisconsin’s history, I said this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history. And this is why it’s so important that they were all there. I had a cabinet meeting this morning and I reminded them of that and I said for those of you who thought I was being melodramatic you now know it was purely putting it in the right context.”

Walkergate Update: Timothy Russell pleads not guilty to embezzlement charges

From the AP 02/24/12: “A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges.”

“Russell’s lawyer asked Friday to move the trial to another county because of media attention, but the judge denied the request.”

From the blue cheddar post “Revelations on Walkergate: 3 former Scott Walker aides charged for theft, fraud, child enticement“-

According to a criminal complaint released today on Russell: Russell took over $20,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the Heritage Guard Preservation Society (HGPS) account for his personal account. …

Russell did use a small amount of the embezzled funds to pay for web domains that promoted Scott Walker: scottforgov, scott4gov, MilwaukeeCountyExecutiveScottWalkerforGovernor with various .info/.com/.net suffixes behind them.

He also took at least $550 from “Friends of Larry Spicer” without authorization.
….Walker has called Russell a “close friend” and went so far as to double his salary when he promoted him from the position of Community Relations Director to Administrator of the Division of Housing in 2008. Chris Liebenthal carefully documented Russell’s career rise in this March 2010 blog post.

The professional relationship cultivated between Scott Walker and Russell looks additionally questionable when you consider that Russell was accused of using a county credit card for personal use before the promotion.

Blogger Chris Liebenthal last year included an excerpt from a press release from Supervisor John Weishan at Milwaukee County First:

“..Mr. Russell was terminated from a previous position at the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) for illegal use of a department credit card for his personal use.

“After reviewing the past resumes of Mr. Russell, submitted to the County Board when he was considered for the position of Economic Development Director, I could not find any mention of this infraction,” Supervisor Weishan said. “It’s time for the County Executive and Mr. Russell to come clean about the Housing Division administrator’s work history.”

According to blogger Chris Liebenthal, Russell recently moved to Sun Prairie after being terminated from his job with Milwaukee County. He didn’t land a job with Walker in the Capitol building….

Walkergate: Former Walker aide Tim Russell to be arraigned on theft charges this morning

Thursday, February 16, 2012 – 4:35 a.m.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The man who was chief of staff to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive is set to be arraigned on theft charges.

An arraignment for Timothy D. Russell is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8AM Central. He’s charged with two charges of felony theft and one charge of misdemeanor theft.

The 48-year-old is accused of stealing more than $21,000 between 2006 and 2009 from a nonprofit organization that Walker asked him to lead. The charges came as part of an ongoing criminal investigation centered on people who served in county government during Walker’s tenure as executive.

A message left with Russell’s defense attorney, Mike Maistelman, was not immediately returned. He has previously said his client is innocent.

Another former Walker appointee is also charged with embezzling from the organization. source

A refresher:
Russell allegedly took over $20,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the Heritage Guard Preservation Society (HGPS) account for his personal account. The HGPS was formed in 2004 to preserve historical and cultural artifacts and properties. Russell would use the embezzled funds for Caribbean and Hawaiian vacations, a political trip to Atlanta to work on a presidential campaign, and to repay funds formerly taken from an account affiliated with Chris Kujawa. More on that including the criminal complaint is at Revelations on Walkergate: 3 former Scott Walker aides charged for theft, fraud, child enticement

Note: Timothy Russell also allegedly set up a secret 3G network to offer an alternate mode of communication separate from that provided by Milwaukee County IT. That network was used by Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch (as well as other staff close to Scott Walker) for both campaign work and official county work. For more on Wink and Rindfleisch including criminal complaints, see Walkergate Updates: A shady land deal witnessed, 6 people charged, a Secret 3G Network, More

“arrainment” defined – [source: legal dictonary]:

“A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or as otherwise permitted by law. Depending on the jurisdiction, arraignment may also be the proceeding at which the court determines whether to set bail for the defendant or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.

Although the initial appearance of the arrested person before a magistrate is sometimes referred to as an arraignment, it is not a true arraignment, which only comes after the defendant has been both arrested and formally charged. In all but extremely rare cases, arraignment also takes place before any suppression hearings and the trial itself. The interests at issue in an arraignment are the defendant’s right to know of the charges against him or her and the defendant’s right to have adequate information from which to prepare a defense. The state also has an interest in having the defendant make a plea so it can prepare accordingly.”

Walkergate Tidbits: Priebus denies knowledge, Real estate rigging?

Darlene Wink sent Reince Priebus emails using a secret network installed in Scott Walker’s former office in Milwaukee County. Priebus was at the top of the Wisconsin Republican Party food chain during Walker’s stint as Milwaukee County Executive. But Reince says he has not been asked to talk with investigators in the John Doe probe:

“…Reince Priebus currently serves as chair of the RNC, but was the head of the state Republican Party during the time period the ongoing probe is focused on. In a call with reporters Tuesday, he denied having any knowledge of the investigation beyond what he has seen reported by the media….”

Former employee of Scott Walker, Darlene Wink, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of political solicitation by a public employee. Wink reached a plea agreement with the county. She will get only a fine in exchange for divulging information on other investigations. She will be sentenced May 15.

From WRN, dated February 15

Avid Walkergate watchers are probably already aware that shady land deals may be a part of this ongoing investigation. Mary Bottari has collected information on land developers that had very close ties to Scott Walker in Milwaukee County:

“The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that John Doe investigators are looking for signs of real estate bid-rigging in the county government during the time Walker was County Executive. The county owns hundreds of acres of land it sells to developers. It deals with thousands of leases and millions of dollars in state and federal housing funds. It does a lot of business with realtors.
The media was alerted to this new line of investigation when Andrew Jensen Jr., “Wisconsin’s Realtor of the Year” for 2010 was thrown in jail for a day last December by the Milwaukee prosecutor for failing to cooperate with the secret investigation. Jensen is a commercial real estate broker with the Boerke Company, a Walker campaign contributor, and past chairman of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin (CARW). Walker has acknowledged knowing Jensen slightly.

According to the Journal Sentinel, Jensen was involved in an controversial effort to move the county’s Department of Aging to a different, private location, after a rushed five hour bid. The DA appears to be squeezing Jensen for information. He may be seeking information the Department of Aging incident, other real estate deals or on a raft of characters in Walker’s “inner circle” who had real estate business with the county.
Walker’s “Inner Circle”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed Tim Russell as part of Walker’s “inner circle” along with John Hiller, Jim Villa, and Bob Dennik — all realtors and developers.

Jim Villa:Jim Villa was Governor Walker’s chief of staff during the time he was a state legislator and during part of Walker’s time as County Executive. He helped him run his various campaigns and remains a close friend according to newspaper accounts. In 2008, he took the job as President of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin (CARW), where he worked with Board Chair Andrew Jensen. He is also a lobbyist for Wisconsin Realtors Association (and Altria/Phillip Morris.) Villa has also created small businesses over the years, likely to allow him to take lobbying and consultancy income.

Villa testified in the Milwaukee County DA as part of the John Doe investigation into the illegal fundraising activities. Kelly Rindfleisch lived in Villa’s house at the time she worked for the county, yet spent at least half her time fundraising for Lt. Gov. candidate Brett Davis. In one electronic chat exchange between Rindfleisch and Villa, Villa made it clear that he thought both Rindfleisch and Davis were obliged to him for his fundraising efforts on behalf of Davis. “Brett AND YOU owe me,” Villa wrote. Rindfleisch was allegedly living with Villa to get around Milwaukee County’s residency requirements for county employees. According to the Journal Sentinel, Villas name has also come up in connection to the Department of Aging deal.

Many wonder if the Milwaukee DA is putting pressure on Jensen to get information about Villa.
John Hiller: Another Walker insider is John Hiller who has been president of Hiller Realty for over 21 years. Hiller was Scott Walker’s campaign treasurer of 13 of those years. He led Walker’s transition team when he became governor. Yet, in May of 2011 as news of the John Doe investigation was breaking, Hiller inexplicably left his post as Walker’s treasurer.

Like Villa, Hiller opened a consulting business in 2005, JM Hiller Consulting LLC. Hiller advertised his consultancy business in the CARW newsletter: telling members he could help them with “Project Approval, Zoning, Grants/Awards” in other words, with county and city deal approvals.
Hiller’s pattern of campaign contributions is mentioned briefly in the Kelly Rindfleish indictment. Hiller’s name has also come up in relation to the Department of Aging deal, where he reportedly acted on behalf of Andrew Jensen’s firm Boerke.

Read the rest of the article here.

Check out more of Mary Bottari’s work at Center for Media and Democracy

Walkergate: Empty drawers. Full dumpster.

Empty file drawers of Milwaukee County Office after Scott Walker left it for the office of Wisconsin governor


I think when people learned about the absence of many documents from Scott Walker’s old Milwaukee County office back in January of 2011,  many thought, “Classic tale of outgoing and incoming administrations that don’t like each other.”  You see the exiting Scott Walker staff  didn’t really play nice with the incoming staff headed by Lee Holloway, a Dem.

Scott Walker’s administration removed boxes and boxes of records from its office but readers probably didn’t jump to conclusions 1 year ago when “16 bankers’ boxes of records retrieved this week from storage by aides to Holloway appear well short of the total paper-load once held in the courthouse’s third-floor executive suite.”  Former Walker staffer Nardelli had some good explanataions:  shredded documents originated in other county offices so the executive office documents were redundant plus some of the records contained social security numbers or phone numbers and they weren’t covered by state or county public records laws.

I’m sure that sounded reasonable. But times and suspicions have changed.

“Got evidence?”

Now when investigators ask the head of a works  department if they can move a dumpster  next to the Milwaukee County building, I think most of us are asking “Got evidence?”  not “Got garbage”.

From Dan Bice of MJS 2/2/12:

Last week, Frank Busalacchi, head of the county Transportation and Public Works Department, was asked by investigators for a particular county Dumpster.

“All they asked was if I could move it, and we did,” Busalacchi said Thursday. “I think they wanted to look through it.”

Was it full or empty?  “I have no idea,” he said. “They asked me that, and I said, ‘You know, I just got here in November. I don’t know what’s in a Dumpster on the side of the courthouse. I have no idea.'”

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who is overseeing the John Doe probe, wouldn’t provide any further insight.

The Dumpster Was Locked and Loaded

Longtime Scott Walker watcher and Milwaukee County resident  Cognitive Dissidence has some tantalizing yet still inconclusive bits of information about that dumpster:

“From what I have learned, the dumpster was indeed moved and had to have a lock broken or cut open. Inside, the dumpster was reportedly full of papers of some sort. What kind is unknown, but it took a number of deputy sheriffs and staff from the District Attorney’s office to go through and they are probably still sorting through them…”

and “Sources have told me that the authorities knew just where to go to find this dumpster, which originally made me wonder if they had put it there, until I learned of the need to force the lock. That would tell me that maybe one of the other persons of interest in this ongoing investigation has cut a deal and turned state witness and told them where to find said mystery dumpster’o’fun….”



photo credit: the featured dumpster image is from Old Sarge and is used under the Creative Commons license

photo credit: the photo of the empty drawers is from a Jan 7, 2011 article in MJS

Who knew Walker’s emails were subpoenaed the day before the 2010 election as they approached the voting booth?

Two things out of this Daniel Bice update on Walkergate:

Chisholm found something juicy enough to move him to subpoena Walker’s emails the day before his election – – and who among the public knew this as they approached the voting booth?


“On Nov. 1, 2010 – the day before the general election – Chisholm’s subpoenaed Walker’s campaign emails. He said Monday that the campaign has turned over thousands of emails as a result.”

And another small yet important detail

“Gov. Scott Walker acknowledged Monday that prosecutors initiated the upcoming meeting they will have with him as part of the John Doe investigation about activities that occurred during Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County executive.”

Previously Walker would not indicate who instigated the meeting. Only that he “voluntarily” would meet with the D.A.