Friday, April 20, 2012

Walkergate: Spinning Out Of Control

Even though I've had some extensive experience with Scott Walker, having to deal with his prevarications and obfuscations for the past ten years, there are times where I'll hear or see something that will stop me in my tracks and just gape in amazement of how much he tries to warp things to fit into his own skewed sense of reality.

This report by Kay Nolan, reporting for, provided me with one of these rare occasions:
Gov. Scott Walker continued to deflect questions Wednesday about when he first hired criminal defense attorneys in connection with an ongoing John Doe investigation.

And while Walker couldn't say he was specifically barred from answering that question, he said Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm had asked him in general not to comment on the long-running probe that has snared former aides.

"He specifically asked me not to comment, period. I don't think it's very qualified. He's asked me not to comment because it makes it difficult for him," Walker told reporters in Oconomowoc, where he announced a WHEDA grant that will allow an empty former middle school to be converted into apartments.

Walker's appearance was the first since media reports on his financial disclosure statement showed he owed at least $55,000 in defense attorney fees as of the end of 2011. Walker announced in February that he had hired attorneys.

Asked when Chisholm first made the no-comment request, Walker said, "I don't have the date, I didn't write it down on a piece of paper." Asked if it happened last year, Walker answered, "Yes," but quickly added that further comment would "violate what he asked me to do."
Oy,he spins so much in just those few quotes that it's enough to make you cross your eyes trying to follow his line of reasoning.

The key thing to take away from that jumbled hash of spinning is that Walker is now admitting that at some unidentified time last year he was directed by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm not to discuss the case.

Just to give Walker the benefit of the doubt, let us say that Chisholm told him to follow the secrecy order of the Walkergate investigations on December 31, 2011. That would mean that in no time in 2012 should he be discussing the investigation, right? Well, not in Walker's world.

On January 5, 2012, upon the heels of the arrest and charging of one of his top aides and closest friends, Tim Russell, and two others, Brian Pierick and Kevin Kavanaugh (who was another one of Walker's political appointees), Walker said that he was "extremely disappointed" over the charges. But he didn't stop there. He also denied having had any contact with the DA's office, except when he sent his then Chief of Staff to see the DA to initiate the investigation:
Walker was asked questions by reporters about the investigation during a conference call Thursday afternoon. Walked started, "I believe when looking at the news announced today that certain large part because of the initial concern raised by Tom Nardelli, my former chief of staff as to these funds."

The governor was then asked about his knowledge surrounding the John Doe investigation. He said, "The only contact we had was through Tom Nardelli quite some time ago in initially bringing this up. That time we didn't know who may or may not be involved. It was just our concern about the funds and what may or may not have happened with those."
One month later, Walker again talks about the John Doe he claims he was told not to talk about. This time, he issued a tersely worded press release announcing that he had retained two high-profile attorneys*:
Over the last 20 months, District Attorney John Chisholm has been conducting an examination of issues in connection with former employees of Milwaukee County. Throughout that time, our campaign has cooperated with requests for information.

My cooperation in this matter extends beyond a willingness to supply any and all requested documents. I have already said that I would be happy to sit down with the people looking into these issues and answer any additional questions they may have. To make that point clear, last year, my representatives voluntarily contacted Mr. Chisholm’s office to arrange a time to discuss any outstanding issues. I will be voluntarily meeting with Mr. Chisholm.

To assemble additional background information, I hired counsel to insure that I am in the best position possible to continue aiding the inquiry. These attorneys, Mike Steinle and John Gallo, have been reviewing a great deal of material from the past few years, but no public money has been used or will be used for these purposes.

While all of us need to let this matter run its course, I will continue to cooperate and provide any appropriate information that is requested.
But the real kicker came in March, when Walker announced the formation of his legal cooperation fund**. Even though all the legal experts confirmed that this meant Walker was either the target of Walkergate, or at the very least, that he was being investigated, his spokeswoman, Ciara "Hooters Girl" Matthews, made this comment for Walker:
But Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said late Friday that the fund was set up "under the guidance of the GAB."

"We reiterate that Gov. Walker has been told that he is not a target of this investigation," Matthews said.
The funny thing about that one is that according to Wisconsin State Statute 968.26, the DA doesn't tell the person he or she whether they are the target until they get served with the criminal complaint.

And these are only the examples that I came up with from the top of my head. I'm sure there are several more examples of Walker speaking of that which he should not speak.

It's obvious that Walker has told so many lies and half-truths that he can't even keep them straight anymore. I'm starting to think that Walker was indeed told to keep his yap shut, but he's so scared that he's no longer thinking straight. And he should be, there is already some pretty damning circumstantial evidence that has come out of the Walkergate trials already. Walker could very well end up losing the recall and then losing his freedom.

And I couldn't think of a nicer guy for this to happen too.

*It wasn't until last week that we learned, from his campaign finance report, that he had hired these attorneys sometime in 2011, and had already racked up a sizable bill in legal fees.

**Normally, people would call this a legal defense fund, but since Walker keeps telling us he's done nothing wrong, and how he's cooperating with the investigation, I felt this was a more Walkeresque name for it.

H/T MAL Contends


  1. I wish they'd just arrest him and get it over with.

  2. Possibly I am reading into this, but to me this has a different tone to it than things we have heard in the past:

    "He specifically asked me not to comment, period. I don't think it's very qualified. He's asked me not to comment because it makes it difficult for him,"

    Sounds like he knows the guy and is empathizing. Or maybe it is the high priced lawyers telling him to sound "nicer". Or maybe he is innocent and does want to cooperate as much as he can and is telling the press to back off.

    1. The trick is never to take what Walker says at face value. He says one thing but means another.

    2. Ah, correct you are, Capper. Let's translate:

      "He's asked me not to comment because it could make it more difficult for me."

      When indicted, that is.

  3. Walker must have misremembered.

    He feigns innocence and cooperation and help, as his surrogates attack the DA's office.

    Interesting factual position given that Walker will not make a public statement urging full cooperation by his current aides and full truth-telling by his former subordinates.

    Walker's framing and large-scale PR job relies on the press and dumbed-down broadcast TV News not asking too many questions, a realistic expectation.

    Here's a good line for Walker about his secretly run 2010 campaign and all aides charged with various felonies:

    "I will not place the blame on subordinates, on people whose zeal exceeded their judgment and who may have done wrong in a cause they deeply believed to be right. In any organization the man at the top must bear the responsibility. That responsibility, therefore, belongs in this office. I accept it."
    Milwaukee Journal, May 1, 1973 (the gold ole' days)

    1. OK, you know I'm gonna be stealing that, right?

  4. I know, but it is still starting to remind me of one of those crime novels where there is some sort of psychological game being played between the detective and the bad guy, but even in the stories that always seems a little far-fetched, so I am probably way out there on this one.

    But too bad if I am, this is what happens when you are not honest. People start to speculate and scrutinize your every word.

  5. Did anybody notice that the memo released on Thursday, indicating the real estate mogul was clear, was written by his lawyer, but was on DA letterhead? The body was also all in quotes....

  6. There is a difference between "cleared" and "not a target". But, I agree that it seems odd that the DA would issue a statement on their letterhead that was written by the defense. Maybe the legal-folk on her can provide some advice? BTW long-time reader finally posting

    1. My take on this will come early next week.

    2. And thanks, Squeeds. Welcome to the discussion!

  7. Let's see if we can guess Cappers take on this. What we know:

    On or about 31OCT2011, Andrew Jensen, a commercial real estate broker and contributor to Scott Walker's campaign for governor, is offered immunity in the John Doe case in exchange for his testimony. He agrees, so long as the immunity is kept secret. As the DA cannot grant that request, Mr. Jensen appeals to the Appeals Court for such an order.

    On 02DEC2011, the Appeals Court rules that it cannot grant secret immunity and anybody getting immunity must make it public.

    On 12DEC2011, Andrew Jensen Jr., after refusing to take public immunity, is jailed for for not cooperating with the on-going John Doe investigation.

    On 13DEC2011, Mr. Jensen is released from jail. As a condition of his release, Jensen has been ordered to meet with officials in the Milwaukee County district attorney's office on Jan. 25.

    Between 14DEC20122 and 25JAN2012, Mr. Jensen fires his attorney, Patrick Schott, and hires a different attorney, Stephen Kravit.

    On 25JAN2012, Mr. Jensen presumably meets with the DA. His new attorney goes on to say that his client has "fully cooperated and has truthfully answered all of the investigators' questions."

    On 19APR2012, Mr. Jensen's attorney releases a statement saying, "The District Attorney's office has indicated that Mr. Jensen will not be charged and that clients of the Boerke Company will not be involving themselves in this matter as a result of their working relationship with Mr. Jensen or the Boerke Company." He goes on to say that they've been informed that "they are not targets in the nearly two-year probe". This message is sent on Milwaukee DA letterhead and states that the Milwaukee DA's office and the John Doe judge have approved of these statements.

    So, why was this letter released and why was it on DA letterhead?

    1. Doesn't mention the word "immunity"... but it amounts to exactly that.

    2. 1) I'm speculating that Mr. Jensen refused public immunity because of the association between immunity and guilt. Wanting to avoid that association at all costs, he is likely advised to stay silent. As a result he is jailed for not cooperating (maybe held in contempt or for obstruction of justice - even though there were no formal charges).

      2) Mr. Jensen doesn't like being in jail and feels his lawyer's advice isn't very goods. He then agrees to meet with the DA, fires his lawyer, and gets a new one. This gets him out of jail and gives him, what he hopes, is better representation.

      3) One of his lawyers, likely his new one, negotiates a deal with the DA. The deal says that Jensen will 100% cooperate so long as a formal letter is released from the DA's office after all of the interviews are complete. He makes clear that Jensen doesn't want immunity, but he does want recognition that he is a free and innocent man.

      4) The DA then interviews Jensen, starting on 25JAN2012, and most likely finishes all of his questions sometime last week. As all of the questioning is done with no charges against Mr. Jensen, the DA releases the letter they had previously negotiated. At this point, Mr. Jensen can say he is not associated with any wrongdoing, doesn't have to answer any questions about immunity, and can point to his piece of paper saying he's a good dude.

      That is my opinion on why the letter was released. Now, why was it on DA letterhead?

      I'm guessing that during the testimony negotiations, the DA said, "We'll publish whatever letter you want so long as Mr. Jensen keeps talking. Just give us the text."

      Mr. Jensen's attorney writes up what he want's the letter convey, but does so in the first person. When the DA gets the text, the DA says to an intern, "Hey, put this on letterhead and send it back to the guy's attorney." The intern agrees, only glancing at the test. As the letter was written vague to begin with, a quick glance doesn't show anything odd. The intern prints out the document and send it back.

      Mr. Jensen's attorney gets the letter, sees the letterhead, and sees that it says what he wanted, not realizing the discrepancy. He sends it to Dan Bice and goes to bed.

      Today, after people with too much time on their hands get a chance to read the actual letter, they notice this oddity and nothing comes of it.

      That's what I think. I also think that, looking back at when the criminal complaints have been filed for the Walker Five, they all came out on Thursdays. Furthermore, this odd memo also came out on a Thursday. We can also infer that there is no more questioning of Mr. Jensen, which may mean that there is no more questioning, period. If that is the case, I'd say there is a good chance that, if any more charges do come out, they'd come out this coming Thursday, or the Thursday after (although, it may wait until 17MAY, as that this the Thursday after Darlene Wink is sentenced with her plea bargain).

      I'd also like to point out that Mr. Jensen is a past chairman of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin. Gov. Walker's close friend, campaign adviser, and former Chief of Staff, Mr. James Villa, was also a chairman of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin. We also found out that, via the Rindfleisch Transcripts, that Ms. Rindfleisch was working on realty related material while she was Deputy Chief of Staff, actually being asked by an unknown person, while she was in her formal capacity, if Mr. Villa could comment on apartment lease costs (even though Villa was no longer working for Walker). What does that mean? Who knows.

  8. Y'know. I have been doing the same job for a long time now. The same thing day after day for too many years. It all looks like a blurr to me. What happened in this year? What happened in that year? I don't know. I can't remember. I can't tell this year from that year anymore.

    Maybe Walker has been telling so many lies for so many years it is all just a big blurr to him to.

  9. Just thought I should mention, the one part missing in this report. . . . Walkers campaign lawyers told him hes not a target of the John Doe investigation. His criminal attorneys are, as of yet silent on that issue. Semantics on Walkers part. A lot of people missed that part of what he said. I would really like to know what his criminal attorneys are saying. My gues is, you may need more help on this, hence 2 more criminal attnys.