Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walkergate: The Russell Revelations

On January 5, 2012, in the dark hour of 6 am, Tim Russell, a long time aide, staffer and very close friend to Scott Walker, was arrested in his home and transported to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where he was charged with embezzling money from a veterans fund and two different political campaigns.

Since that day, Russell has gone through at least three attorneys, the most recent being Dennis Krueger, an attorney at the Maistelman & Associates Law Firm.  Michael Maistelman has also represented him throughout the investigation as well.

Tim Russell, being always so
helpful to Scott Walker
About a month ago, as reported by Cory Liebmann, Attorney Krueger filed motions with the court asking that the criminal charges be summarily dismissed..  Krueger went on to say if the court would not dismiss the charges, the majority of the evidence should be suppressed.  The rationales that Krueger offered were, to be blunt, ridiculous.  Krueger complained of a supposed lack of a speedy trial, that the charges exceeded the scope of the John Doe process, and other such silliness.

At the time, I pointed out the ridiculousness of it all.

Recently, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed two motions to respond to those filed by Krueger.  Today, WisPolitics.com made them publicly available.  And they are doozies.

In his response to the motion to suppress the evidence, Landgraf does, in my opinion, a very able destruction of the defense's arguments.  He explains the process of a John Doe investigation as well as points out how the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has gone above and beyond those standards to protect the integrity of the process as well as their case against Russell.

There are a few things to take away from this besides a better understanding of the John Doe process.

One is that when Walker had his Chief of Staff, Tom Nardelli, go to the DA, they cited Kevin Kavanaugh as the suspect (top of page 5).  It was only after the investigation started did Russell's alleged crimes come to light.  Call me conspiratorial, but I believe that there is a strong possibility that they tried to set up Kavanaugh as the fall guy, not realizing that the John Doe could take such leaps and bounds to ensnare them all in its investigation.

Another thing is that the Walkergate investigation has had its scope enlarged at least seven times, one for each new trail that came up during the investigation.  This is much larger than anyone might have thought.

The third thing, and perhaps the biggest from this document, can be found on page 12. Specifically, Russell is still being investigated for misconduct in office related to all of the illegal campaigning he was doing and directing others, like Darlene Wink, to do.

This is extremely significant when one considers the fact that it appears Russell is already running into financial problems stemming from the legal costs he has accrued and continues to accrue during the investigation and subsequent charging.  He most likely could not afford to defend against even more charges. This must be weighing heavily on his mind as he ponders trying to strike a plea agreement.

As interesting as the above-mentioned response is, Landgraf's response to the motion to dismiss is veritable gold mine producing some very large nuggets.

The first nugget comes on page 4, in which Attorney Krueger is offering the opening to reach some sort of plea deal:

click to embiggen

I have written a number of times already, and do so again now, that Russell would be a fool not to try to get a plea bargain.  The DA has a pretty solid case against him on the embezzlement charges and would have as close to a legal slam dunk as humanly possible if they were to charge him with a number of misconduct in office charges.  Furthermore, Walker has made it very clear that he is throwing Russell under the campaign bus and will not be giving him financial aid, much less a pardon.

Landgraf's motion also makes mention that they took six computers from Russell's home when they raided it, as well as more than 14,000 documents.  And that is before they found the Mystery Dumpster'O'Fun!  That would seem to be a tremendous amount of evidence for a judge or jury to ponder and would show what a strong case they have against Russell.  Again, I would refer Russell to the paragraph immediately above regarding the wisdom behind a plea deal.

I should point out that the plea deal might be out of reach for Russell now.  Landgraf has expressed that he feels that Krueger's motions put a large hindrance in any further progress in reaching an agreement.  Russell might be able to salvage something yet, but that would only be if he's got something that would be of real interest to the DA, such as being willing to testify against Scott Walker or someone even higher up on the political food chain, such as Reince Priebus.

I'm sure that the gentle reader has heard radio squawkers like Charlie Sykes or the propagandist groups like MacIver or Media Trackers, screeching endlessly about all the "leaks" in the investigation.  It was part of their ongoing campaign to try to discredit the DA and his office.

For Sykes, at least, it shows that there is no limit to his hypocrisy and dishonesty:

click to embiggen

Even though Sykes knew damn well that it was Walker's cronies and acolytes turning on him, Sykes continued to push the false line attacking and accusing the DA's Office of leaking information, all in order to defend Walker and his campaign during the recall.  A complaint really needs to be filed not only with the FCC, but with the GAB and possibly the DA as well for Sykes' and Journal Broadcasting's illegal campaign contributions.

But Sykes, the loathsome toad that he is, is not the biggest liar out there.  That honor belongs to --- wait for it ---  Scott Walker!  As I always say, when it comes to Scott Walker, there's more, there's always more.

On page 15, there is this rare double nugget:

click to embiggen

Despite Walker's repeated claims early on that he knew nothing but what he read in the paper, it is obvious that he was fully aware of what was happening in the John Doe long before the first charges were ever issued.  In fact, this email was sent almost two months before the 2010 election.  Hiller, who was still his campaign treasurer at that time, was filling him on the raid on Wink's home,  who the John Doe Judge was, that more subpoenas were about to be issued and that railroad tycoon William Gardner was about to be criminally charged.

This would explain the reports that I was hearing that Walker and his campaign were terrified that this information, as well as the raid on his own office on November 1- the very day before the election - would get out before he could be sworn into office and before he could set into motion his agenda to destroy the unions and pillage the state.

But there are also another interesting tidbit in that email from Hiller.

He points out that, even at these early stages of the investigation, that the FBI was involved.  While not absolutely confirming it, it does give credence to the reports that Walker might be facing federal charges in the relatively near future.

As a final point, the Landgraf responses show that Russell has been all over the place in regards to his defense strategy.  He's been through a number of attorneys and has repeatedly shown indecisiveness on how to proceed.  It is this indecisiveness that may have sabotaged any chance he had at reaching a plea bargain with the state.  This flies in the face of statements made by Walker apologists about some staff members being "overzealous" in their support of Walker and his campaign.

Russell, who was giving marching orders to Wink and others, was not a leader.  He was only relaying and following orders issued from someone above him.  Without having those directives now, he can't find his way out of a brown paper bag.

And I believe we all can figure out who was the person giving those orders.


  1. Blockbuster post.

    The hypocrisy and deceptions are not really a surprise. What pol doesn't appreciate advance notice of publication, complete with notification of sourcing?

    Sykes? Looking like he was caught with his pants at his ankles, while going commando.

  2. How did the State come into possession of the Maistelman email to Sykes? (exhibit 4 in State's Response to Motion to Dismiss (Speedy Trial)

    Did someone have a copy which was either seized in one of the searches or volunteered for some reason?

    The other possibilities are even more interesting.

  3. It's interesting to speculate as to who at MJS was Hiller's source on the content of Bice's upcoming story. It's probably safe to assume that Walker has received advance knowledge of every word that was ever going to be printed in that rancid publication regarding the John Doe investigation. Do they cover this in the college courses on journalistic ethics?

    The right-wing mafia in Milwaukee is a very close knit group. May the legal net spread far and wide.

  4. Why are you the only one who reports on this? (Rhetorical question)

  5. Wow.

    Landgraf is a rockstar, love (in a manly kind of way) his pithy email to Krueger.

    Great catch on Walker's "I only know what I read in the papers."

  6. I posted this. Thanks for all the leg work. http://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/2012/06/john-doe-update-its-broader-than-we.html

    @Gareth: When I was at the paper, I lost count of the number of times I lost control of information I had when I had to make my calls to verify or expand the information before I could get it into the paper. People who hear a story is in preparation by being interviewed immediately call their friends, allies, bosses, etc., and warn them off. So sometimes information got cut off and reporting was made difficult, and sometime it worked the other way - - a call would come from a person (s) who would say, "I hear you are working on such-and-such. Can I get into the story?" Or, "here's what you don't know," etc.

    So things do not need to be leaked to be circulated in a conspiratorial or unethical way to be known.


  7. A complaint has been filed with the FCC regarding this evidence of outright lies by Sykes, including a link to this post, capper. Others are welcome to do so as well (it's easily done online).

    'Twould have been nice for Steve Schultze to link to this, or at least acknowledge real reporting here, in his catch-up story in the JS today, too.

  8. Your blog is definitely our best source of factual information in one of the too many deplorable cover-ups in our nation's continuing paths to fascism. Kudos again.

  9. Anybody notice that the da wouldn't give back Russell's Pc due to it containing "contraband"? This is the first bit we've heard since the Pierick complaint about Russell being implicated in the child enticement portion of the JD investigation (where I believe that document only referred to an accomplice or co-concpirtor).

    I am also interested in how the DA got some of those emails...perhaps the FBI and the good ol' Patriot Act are coming in handy after all...

    1. I noticed the "contraband" reference. That could be anything from material downloaded in violation of copyright laws to material which can lead to prosecution under various statutes due to prohibited sexual content.

      No reason to suspect anything like email or computer hacking; but if prosecutors had discovered something like that they might also describe it as contraband.

      There are other possibilities which might be more likely.

    2. I agree with your premise, however, if you read the Pierick complaint, it is clear that Russell was up to his elbows in young gay pornography and solicitation of potential minors in the Milwaukee area. Now, he was also the IT and finance guy for so much of this CF that he could very well have stolen/illicit material on his PCs, but I'm betting it's all the sexting of young men that's drawn the bulk of contraband interest (I encourage you to read the pierolick complaint - it is horrifying). We'll see....

      Now, something not discussed, is that he had six PCs, was a known IT GUY, and loved himself young gay pornography (of the really hardcore type). It's not out of the realm of possibility that he may have been hosting content as well as making and downloading it...if any of that would have had minnors in it, we could see federal charges coming.

  10. Very interesting reading the DA's response to Russell's motion to dismiss & suppress. It would appear that Krueger is trying to throw a bunch of baseless claims at the DA to see if any of it will stick and get his client off. It also appears the DA is pretty PO'ed by this and has nixed any more discussions regarding "cooperation"

  11. Anon at 12:37, great news about the FCC complaint.

  12. Capper, if Walker isn't funding Russell's attorneys...well...just who the heck IS paying those three lawyers all that money for all those hours and hours of assistance? That's what I'd like to know. Russell's financially destitute isn't he? Is Russell getting financial assistance from one of Walker's fascist donors?