Thursday, March 8, 2012

Walkergate: Son of the Caucus Scandals

For the regular followers of the ongoing Walkergate saga, they already know that it is a vast and ever expanding web of deceit, lies and all sorts of illegal activities.

It is so vast, that even I have problems keeping up with everything, much less finding time to put fingers to keyboards to share what I have learned.  But even in the complex pattern of this web of corruption, patterns can be found and strands can be tied together.

We already knew that Scott Walker had allowed the office of the Milwaukee County Executive to be the campaign headquarters for not only him, but for the person he wanted to be his Lieutenant Governor, Brett Davis.

But a further analysis of the criminal complaint filed against Kelly Rindfleisch, who served as Walker's Assistant Chief of Staff as well as Brett Davis' campaign fundraiser, show that as all things Walker, there is always more.

It seems that not only were the County Executive's office used for its formal business and for campaign activities, but it also served as a fundraising center for WISGOP.

On page 37 of the complaint is this clip of an email from Cullen Werwie, then Brett Davis' campaign staffer to Rindfleisch:

click to enlarge
This clip would seem to indicate that Rindfleisch was known primarily as a campaign fundraiser.  The fact that she was also a government worker seems to be a distant second, if thought about at all.  This is supported by the fact that Werwie was asking Rindfleisch for help in amassing a large fundraising spreadsheet which could be shared between the campaigns.

The second clip is from page 45 and is an exchange between Jim Villa and Rindfleisch.  Villa was a former Chief of Staff for Walker and worked on his campaign to some degree:

This exchange shows Rindfleisch was working as a fundraiser for Walker and Davis at the same time, instead of serving the public, like she was getting paid to do.

Also please note two of the names mentioned in this exchange: John Hiller and Ed Aprahamian.

Hiller was the long-standing campaign treasure for Scott Walker until they separated ways about a year ago.  Walker would have us believe that he fired Hiller because he didn't think Hiller was up to the job of handling all of the donations coming in.  This sudden realization came after Hiller worked for Walker for 18 years.

Aprahamian is also a familiar name to me.  He is the owner of MidAmerican Building Services.  At the end of 2009, Walker granted Aprahamian a contract worth more than a million dollars to clean the Milwaukee County Courthouse as he laid off all of the county's housekeeping staff.  At the time, I pointed out that this appeared to be in violation of county ethics laws, as the timing of the donation coincided with the time he was proposing privatizing these services.

With the new information coming from the criminal complaint, I took a second look at Aprahamian's donations.  The Wisconsin Democracy's database shows the $1,000 that Aprahamian donated to Walker.  But it also shows that one year later, he donated another $1,000 to Brett Davis.

But I noticed something else odd about these donations.  For the donation for Davis, it lists Aprahamian''s employer as being MidAmerican Building Services.  However, for his donation to Walker, it shows his employer to be Gateway Services.

Gateway Services is another familiar name.  It is a name that was brought up as the company that is owned by Dan Morse and whose CEO is Phillip Prange.  They are big time fundraisers for Walker and have worked as campaign consultants for Walker.  This all came out when we took a look the skulduggery behind the propagandist group, Wisconsin Reporter.

The third clip I would point out comes from page 48 of the complaint:

There's Aprahamian's name again.

But the significance of this passage is that it shows that Rindfleisch was sharing donors between the campaign.  This is highly unusual.

Politicians treat key donors as a dog treats a bone.  They are very territorial and protective of their donors and the best ones are kept close.  Sharing these key donors are almost never heard of.  Rindfleisch is politically savvy enough to know that she wouldn't be in the business long, if she hadn't gotten Walker's blessing before doing this.

And the Jason Thompson mentioned in the clip is Tommy Thompson's son, who was Davis' campaign treasurer.

While most of the above items was already pretty much known, I would like to point this out lastly, again on page 48 is this:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to one of the smoking guns.

Judi Rhodes, aka Judi Rhodes-Engels, is someone else we know.  She is the Harley Davidson-riding GOP operative that specializes in raising funds for State Senator Scott Fitzgerald.  Rhodes sent a spreadsheet named "All Contributions-cfis-xlsm" to Rindfleisch, on what would be normally considered a work day during normal work hours.

This means not only was Walker having county staff running his campaign and doing fundraising on county time, and not only were the same staff coordinating things with the Davis campaign, but also was coordinating with WISGOP staff, under the leadership of State Senator Scott Fitzgerald.  How was this arrangement approved and by whom?

In summary, you have a distinct pattern of Walker using his county staff and his county executive office which was doing campaign activity, most of which was a fund raising fundraising operation not just for himself, but also for his choice for Lieutenant Governor, Brett Davis.  On top of all that, they were coordinating across multiple facets of WISGOP, most notably (for now) State Senator Scott Fitzgerald.

Does anyone, honestly believe that Scott Walker, Brett Davis, Scott Fitzgerald and maybe even Reince Priebus, didn't know about any of this nor gave their blessings to it?

We'd best hurry and get to the kitchen.  I think we're going to need a lot more popcorn for this. A lot more.


  1. great work, again. It is amazing to see the web and how deeply it goes. My thought is if we keep digging we'll get all the way to Rove. Thanks again.

  2. Capper,

    On the first email from Werwie to Rindfleisch, Werwie is basically apologizing for taking up her time on something that "isnt directly fundraising related".

    Wonder why that is? ...what was her actual job again?

    Good stuff here, thanks for taking the time to read all of this!

  3. is there any way we can implicate president Bush in this scandal, we all hate him too, right?

  4. Unraveling. Well done.

  5. I wonder if the email system the Republicans were all gaga over was purchased with money allegedly embezzled by Tim Russell from the Iraq war widows-and-orphans-fund?

  6. Government doesn't work? It seemed to be working pretty well for the WisGOP in this case.

  7. Capper, you've done a lot of great work. I'm not sure if you've ever done a single piece that's this brilliant. #neverceasetoamaze

  8. You da man capper , Thank you. Thank you. Thank. you

  9. "Politics and crime -- they're the same thing."

    Michael Corleone, The Godfather III

  10. Thanks for taking the time to go through the complaint and for putting it into a coherent story. The pictures of the emails themselves are very good and very clear, they show the "evidence" in a way that is better than going to a link.
    I am a little puzzled as to why the regular press isn't writing similar articles. Is that because the case is ongoing? Does anybody know how much of this stuff is usually treated in such a high profile case? Is it because it involves the party in power that we don't hear much, or is it the usual way to go about things? Or something else altogether?

  11. This is absolutely brilliant work; it surpasses the high expectations that were set last night. Thank you!

  12. I don't understand how the John Doe Investigation isn't as big of a national story as it should be. This is way worse than Blago in IL.

  13. John Doe is such a boring name for this investigation, it deserves a name that expresses it's true magnitude. I'm going with "Operation Clean Sweep".

  14. Always something to brighten my day. Thank you!

  15. Why has this not been a front-page series (above the fold) in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel?

    How do its editors justify their paychecks?

  16. Awesome work. I wish more people had the time and inclination to do work like this.

  17. Bahm! What a post. Maybe Walker is not challenging petitions to rush the recall before the sh** hits the fan.

  18. I have some tin hats on sale, you all would look good wearing them, I FORGOT, YOU ARE ALL WEARING THEM ALREADY.