Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Walkergate: The First Arrest

Right in the middle of the gathering of signatures for the Scott Walker recall, Walkergate raises its ugly head, as if we needed any more incentive to get the bum out of office with all due haste.

Andrew P. Jensen, Jr, coutesty
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has been covering the ongoing saga of Walkergate, which has been underway for a year and a half and is reportedly growing massive in its range and scale, reports on the latest shoe to fall in the investigation:
On Tuesday, authorities arrested Andrew P. Jensen Jr., a commercial real estate broker with Boerke Co. and a past president of the Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin.

Fran McLaughlin, spokesman for Sheriff David Clarke Jr., confirmed that Jensen was behind bars on Tuesday night. But McLaughlin said no one had filed a criminal complaint against the 50-year-old Milwaukee resident.

The sheriff's website states that charges are pending against Jensen.

Attempts to reach Jensen or his lawyer were unsuccessful. Jensen, who primarily represents building owners seeking tenants for vacant space, is considered one the top agents in Milwaukee in this field.

Jensen was a minor contributor to Walker's gubernatorial campaign, donating $850 to Walker. Boerke Co. employees gave a total of $12,150.

Insiders told No Quarter that he was arrested for refusing to cooperate with the long-running John Doe investigation by Milwaukee County prosecutors.
As Bice goes on to explain, in a John Doe investigation, prosecutors can be subpoenaed and compelled to testify.

While Jensen's arrest will make for great conversation around the water cooler and at the lunch table on Wednesday, it's not the biggest part of Walkergate. Remember, Jensen was only arrested, per the article, for allegedly not cooperating with the investigation. It doesn't indicate that Jensen was necessarily tied up with any other wrong doings.

But what did catch my eye was the fact that Jensen is a real estate broker and past president of the Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin (CARW).

It caught my eye, because Walker seems to like to surround himself with these folks

One such example is Jim Villa.  Villa is a Walker crony going way back.

Villa was Walker's Chief of Staff when he was in the state legislature.  He returned to the Chief of Staff position when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive and was gearing up for his first attempt at running for governor.  At that time, Walker was already taking a lot of heat for the miserable way he was handling the county's affairs and for campaigning on the county dime during his infamous bike rides. Even then, Walker acolytes like Owen Robinson were falling all over themselves making excuses and being apologetic as they defended Walker's already evident corruption.

Besides being a Walker supporter and Walker aide, Villa is also a real estate broker and has been the president of CARW for the past four years.

Another such character is a man named Jim Hiller.  You've probably heard of the name.

He was Walker's campaign treasurer for 18 years, about as long as Walker has been a career politician.  Hiller also served on Walker's transition team as he became governor.  And yes, he was in real estate for 21 years.

Hiller should be someone to watch as Walkergate continues to unfold.  After all, there has to be a reason why Hiller suddenly quit as Walker's treasurer after 18 years, and I doubt it was because he wanted to be a lobbyist:
"Every time there's a new witness, this thing sprouts a new branch and heads in a completely new direction," said one person familiar with the investigation.

Walker also acknowledged Tuesday that his longtime campaign treasurer, John Hiller, had left that post. Records show Hiller was replaced by Kate Lind on May 13.

The governor said the change had nothing to do with the John Doe investigation

"For us, we put someone on who is a professional comptroller to make sure, with the volume of supporters we have, we had somebody who could handle that," Walker said. Two insiders said Hiller had also broken formal ties with the campaign around the same time he began soliciting clients with business before the state.
After that length of time, Eagle Scout Walker suddenly felt that Hiller wasn't up to the job? Right.

But that line about "soliciting clients with business before the state" sounds awfully suspicious to me, given some of the rumors that have been floating around regarding the investigation.

But there's one more real estate agent who is a long time Walker crony that is most definitely a person of interest in the investigation: Tim Russell. Russell is, of course, one of the first people to be investigated in the early days of Walkergate. He was caught on film campaigning with Walker during his bike ride. He also had his office thoroughly searched, including having his computer and county-issued Blackberry confiscated and locked file cabinets pried open by Sheriff's deputies.

As a possible tie in to the others, Russell also held a couple of real estate related positions under Walker in Milwaukee County, including working in economic development and during his last job, as Director of Housing. Both of these jobs worked intricately in real estate and the funding that goes with those positions.

All of these people, as well as other members of CARW and the real estate brokerage and real estate development were big supporters of Walker's campaigns, whether by working for him and/or contributing to his campaign.

Given Walker's long history of blatant cronyism and of rewarding his supporters lavishly, it does give pause to wonder if this is somehow related to the Walkergate investigation.  I think the gentle reader already knows where I would come down on this, but I will leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Now let us prepare for the onslaught of manipulations and stunts that Walker and his allies will ply in an effort to draw our attention from the things that they don't want us to see or know about.


  1. It's hard to tell where "JohnDoegate" will end up!

  2. That picture is not going to look good on his LinkedIn page profile.

  3. As far as Real Estate industry connections the DNR leaders are as well. Yup Walker Wisconsin's pro-sprawl Governor.

  4. Are we going to see any WI Republican lawmakers putting any distance between themselves and Wanker's policy goals any time soon as a result of these investigations?

  5. Don't forget Alison Rozek, a Walker political crony, right hand woman of Cindy Archer. Ms Rozek was formerly a higer up with the City of Milw. development corp. in charge of lots of federal funds. She suddenly resigned to become part of Walker's Milw Couty team and then part of the beleagured DWD team before suddenly being fired. Ust saying

  6. Born in Point, raised in Rapids, many years in Madtown. Saw reference to you on TPM.

    Thanks for the story. Good work. Look forward to hearing more from you.

  7. @nonquixote - I would doubt this alone will do it. The right is surprised that we have the audacity to recall Walker and are completely perplexed that we are so close to doing it.

    They are too deep in to bail out until Walker actually falls.

    Anonymous 11:00 Good point. We're looking into that.

    Anonymous 11:53 Thanks for the kind words and for visiting.