Friday, September 2, 2011

Is John Doe's Other Shoe About To Drop?

During Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign, there were repeated incidents of, to be tactful, questionable activities.  One of his office staff, Darlene Wink, who just so happened to be also a ranking officer in the Milwaukee County Republican Party, was caught leaving comments at JSOnline during work hours.  Tim Russell, an old friend of Walker's, who worked many of his campaigns when he wasn't receiving political appointments to various jobs in Milwaukee County, was accused of using county time and county equipment for politicking for Walker. There were rumors of other members of Walker's staff doing similar behaviors and manipulating and/or coercing people to hush up any negatives.

All of these sordid and sinister activities led to a John Doe investigation being launched into Walker's campaign and some members of Walker's staff at Milwaukee County.This investigation kept growing and involving more and more people,.

The investigation eventually bore fruit when railroad mogul William E. Gardner was convicted of illegal campaign donations. However, Gardner got off relatively lightly and it barely affected Walker or his campaign.

Then there was silence for several months of no solid news, but lots of rumors.

However, the silence broke early last week when the news came out that Tom Nardelli was abruptly leaving his  (second) cushy post with the state with no real reason given.  Nardelli was Walker's Chief of Staff when they both worked for Milwaukee County.  It was also rumored that Nardelli was one of the subjects of the John Doe investigation.  Given that rumor, as well as the odd reason he gave for leaving, speculation arose that his sudden departure might have something to do with the investigation.

Hot on the heels of the Nardelli resignation came news that another one of Walker's top county aides, Cindy Archer, was taking a sudden leave of absence.  Neither the reason nor the length of Archer's leave was given.

(As the reporter, Dan Bice, revealed his findings, there is an interesting side note. Walker, who was interviewed a couple of times earlier this year, first admitted that Archer was talking about his campaign, mostly for scheduling. What was the rest of the time about?

In a later interview, Walker was all too eager to throw his top cronies under the bus by dumping on them as he backpedaled away from them as fast as he could, denying any knowledge about anything - OK, that part is believable.)

It wasn't until the next day, after the questions regarding Archer's leave was aired publicly, that the answers were suddenly supplied, saying that she was "to attend to some personal family matters," and that she planned on returning in some capacity.  A cynic might read that a meaning she's got some sort of plea bargain in the works.

Things settled down for about a week, when more news came out about the investigation.

Dan Bice reports that the Walker campaign dropped $60,000 to the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.  This firm has a cozy relationship with Walker, having donated $43,000 to Walker's campaign and receiving a half a million dollar contract from the state for its work on Walker's union-busting bill.

The thing is, that $60,000 was for "compliance/administrative" costs, which as Bill Christofferson points out, is mostly making sure that the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed.

Another point of consideration is that if the law firm charged $400 an hour, which is common among the high end law firms, that would be 150 hours of work.  Odds are that it was a lesser member of the firm who did the actual work, meaning the price would be lower and the number of hours higher.  Boy, Walker's campaign must have had a real hard time keeping in compliance with the law for it to take that long to make sure it was done right.

That is unless the law firm was responding to inquiries from the John Doe investigation.  That could open a couple of new cans of worms.

One, it would mean that Walker's campaign wrongly categorized the services provided, which in itself is against campaign finance rules.

The other problem is laid out in Bice's article, as spelled out by Steve Biskupic, who had been hired by the campaign when the scandal was first made public:
Biskupic deflected questions about his payments from the Walker campaign. He referred questions to campaign staffers but noted that campaign money cannot be used for "the purpose of supporting or defending a person who is being investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation." But can a campaign pay a lawyer to respond to a subpoena issued as part of a John Doe investigation if the campaign is not the target? Biskupic didn't respond to that question.
Wouldn't that be something, if it's true? In order to cover up misdoings by his campaign, Walker resorts to further illegal activities. Of course, that would fit his normal method of operations, wouldn't it?

 Now, there is nothing concrete saying all these things, or any of them, are tied into the John Doe investigation. But if they're not, it would be an amazing defiance of the odds to have so many things happen in such short order.

 But if these events are somehow intertwined with the John Doe investigation, the timing would be most unfortunate for Walker. By the time further information comes out, and the majority of people have the chance to hear of it and start to digest the ramifications of it all, Walker will be very close to the date that he can be legally recalled.

Indeed, the gales of November do come early sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate how accessible you make this. Pass the popcorn.