Thursday, July 12, 2012

Walkergate: Following Russell's Revelations Down The Rabbit Hole

On Tuesday night, I said that I thought Wednesday would be an interesting day for the ongoing saga of Walkergate. I am pleased to say that I was again proven to be correct, but not in a way I would have imagined.

As the regular readers (all 4.3 of them) already knows, Tim Russell's defense attorney, Dennis Krueger, had filed two motions, one to dismiss the case outright, and failing that, to suppress the evidence against his client. I thought the chances of these to succeed were laughable.

I found them even more laughable after Assistant District Attorney filed his responses to Russell's motions.

And, of course, I was correct.

The Honorable David Hansher found the defense's motions to be without merit and dismissed them.

The next official event will be on September 1, 2012, when both the state and the defense present their proposed questions and proposed instructions for the jury. The actual jury trial is scheduled for September 10.

Judge Hansher also ordered the prosecutors and Attorney Krueger to meet in the near future to have a discussion on whether a long laundry list of things taken from Russell, including 16 computers, an iPhone, financial records for the Republican Party of Milwaukee County (Russell was their treasurer), and assorted documents dealing with Operation Freedom as well as emails from John Hiller and Jim Villa (This is important! Remember this!).

Steve Schultze, who covered the hearing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, gave the story his usual level of incompetence and misleading reporting.  From Schultze's original report:
In an unusual twist, prosecutors disclosed that Michael Maistelman, Russell's original lawyer in the case, was "a person of interest" in connection with the John Doe investigation. The judge did not clarify why Maistelman was a focus of that investigation, which began more than two years ago and has been broadened at least seven times.

The judge has ordered that documents filed on the Maistelman matter be kept secret.

The issue came up because Russell's current attorney, Dennis Krueger, is Maistelman's law partner. That raised a question of whether Krueger had a potential conflict of interest in representing Russell, Hansher said. Russell said he was satisfied with keeping Krueger on his case.

Maistelman leaked information about the investigation to radio talk show host Charlie Sykes, according to a court filing by Landgraf last month. Maistelman tipped off Sykes in January that two other Walker aides at the county - Darlene Wink and Kelly Rindfleisch - would be charged in the John Doe investigation, Landgraf wrote.

Wink and Rindfleisch were charged four days later with doing campaign work while on their county jobs.
Attorney Michael Maistelman
When I first read this, I was taken quite aback. Schultze was making it seem like Maistelman was one of the corrupt Scott Walker's henchmen! That was hard to swallow since Maistelman has always been very upright in all of my dealings with him. And I know for a fact that Maistelman has the respect of many of Wisconsin's top officials and is one of the go to attorneys, especially when it comes to election laws. Furthermore, it was unlikely behavior for someone who was just named one of 2012's Leaders in the Law.

Indeed, by the time I got online and pulled up the story, I see that Schultze had to correct his story by adding these lines (emphasis mine):
District Attorney John Chisholm said Maistelman was not a target of the investigation. Chisholm said he couldn't reveal the reason prosecutors had an interest in Maistelman.

Maistelman said: "A person of interest is someone who may have information related to any investigation."
Sadly, some wannabe citizen reporters didn't get the message. Sites like "Voices Newspaper Blog" took Schultze's misreporting of the facts and actually found a way to make it look even worse.

As Schultze was forced to correct his report, Maistelman is NOT a target. Got it?

And he is not a leak. There are no leaks in this investigation.

The email to Sykes was to tweak his nose. And the information in it, such as the fact the Kelly Rindfleisch was up to her armpits in the corruption, had already been reported by yours truly - five days before her arrest and the day before Maistelman's email.

And what information came from Maistelman or Krueger where done with Russell's blessings. Most likely, it was in an effort to get the heat off of him as well as to stick it to Scott Walker, who left Russell to twist in the wind.

So why would Maistelman be labelled a "person of interest?"

Well, gentle reader, I'm glad you asked.

As District Attorney Chisholm pointed out, Maistelman is not a target. The only remaining reason for him to be a person of interest is that the DA believes that Maistelman might have some information to an ongoing aspect of the investigation.

And we already have a few clues on what that area of the investigation is.

Throughout Russell's trial, there have been a few mentions that Maistelman might have an unwaiverable conflict of interest.  I hadn't written about this before now because I couldn't imagine what it might have been about.  I think I do now have an idea on why the court kept saying this.

Two months ago, we learned of a most curious immunity which was given to Attorney David Halbrooks. At the time, I wrote this:
That said, because of his vast experience and storied past, he was/is a bit of a mover and shaker. He was appointed to the Milwaukee 7, a group consisting of civic leaders, business people and politicians whose mission is to draw businesses to Southeastern Wisconsin. And some of the board members that Halbrooks worked with include Michael Grebe, Walker's campaign chair; Republican money man Jim Kreuser; and someone named Scott Walker.

A more tangential connection is that he apparently had the support of realtors. We all know that the realtors were in deep with Walker and a shady deal regarding the renting of a section of the Reuss Federal Building has been reported as being part of the Walkergate investigation.

Without further information, it is impossible to know with any certainty how Halbrooks is involved with Walkergate. It could be the land deal. It could be another part of it. It could be something altogether new.
I also noted that Halbrooks was "Of Counsel" to Maistelman's law firm, which means that while he was not working for Maistelman, he would, at times, collaborate with Maistelman on a case.

I have also learned since that article two months ago that one of Halbrooks' clients was John Hiller, who is a realtor and was Walker's campaign treasurer for 18 years. In fact, Halbrooks and the realtors guild were apparently very close since they would hold fundraisers for him when he was a judge.  Hiller is also a name which has surfaced in the Walkergate investigation for his role in the reported pay for play bid-rigging regarding the housing for the Milwaukee County Department of Aging

Seeing how the DA gave Halbrooks immunity, it would not be a jump of faith to believe that he had information regarding this sordid affair which might have incriminated him in some fashion.  The most logical presumption is that Halbrooks has some knowledge, having worked for Hiller, of some of Hiller's possible illegal dealings.  And since Halbrooks has worked with Maistelman, there is a strong chance that Halbrooks gave the DA a reason to believe that Maistelman might have further information regarding all of this.

In other words, as opposed to what Steve Schultze or that Voices blog might want you to believe, Maistelman is not in cahoots with Walker or his gang of thugs.  If anything, he might now play a role in taking them down.

What all of this also tells us is that the Walkergate investigation is far from over and that the stuff that we have seen so far is nothing more than just the tip of the iceberg.  

Whenever they do get around to indicting Scott Walker, it looks like they'll have him trussed up like a Christmas goose.


  1. "trussed up like Christmas goose". Aw, the power of words! Great article Capper.

  2. I read the JS piece before the update/correction, and I'll admit I took "of interest" to mean "target."

    1. Me too, I immediately thought to myself, "Thank God I am not a person of interest, it sounds bad."

  3. This is always a great way to start the day. Walker's arrogance and ignorance will be his downfall.

  4. I don't understand what this paragraph means. Is there something missing? Are they going to discuss what is admissible as evidence in court?

    "Judge Hansher also ordered the prosecutors and Attorney Krueger to meet in the near future to have a discussion on whether a long laundry list of things taken from Russell, including 16 computers, an iPhone, financial records for the Republican Party of Milwaukee County (Russell was their treasurer), and assorted documents dealing with Operation Freedom as well as emails from John Hiller and Jim Villa (This is important! Remember this!)."

    1. No, it's just that the authorities removed these things when his home and office were raided and Russell wants his things back. They are going to talk about what the DA can return to him and what they need to keep as evidence.

    2. This might be a stupid question, but, is Russell in jail right now or out on bail?

      Also, are the 16 computers from the Milwuakee County computers that they took when they went to Madison?

      Do they want them back so they can find out what the DA knows about and thus plan the defense strategy?

    3. Russell is out on bail. I think some of the computers might have been from the county, but I'm sure that some were his own as well. My guess is he wants them back to sell them to pay for the legal fees.

    4. Hey what a deal! You can buy two of Tim Russell computers and he'll throw the third one in for free. As an added bonus you get get your house raided the next day by the FBI ~lol

  5. All 4.3 readers? Don't sell yourself short! I didn't discover your blog until recently, but it is absolutely the best site around for Wisconsin politics.

    I greatly appreciate your efforts.

    1. I agree Greg, don't sell yourself short capper! I always read your blogs, I usually don't comment, but you keep me up to date with what is going on with our corrupt governor. You have a lot more than 4.3 readers!

    2. I don't usually comment, either, but I read your blog on a daily basis, capper.

    3. Me too- I read every day.

    4. I check your blog several times a day! I get REALLY excited when there is a new piece to read! THANK YOU!

  6. Thank you for your work. I'd like to make 5.3 readers.

  7. What do you do, sit around all day and make this shit up?? Why don't you get a real job and pay for the food stamps...

    1. Anonymous 4:12, are you nutz? Can you read? This is from court documents.

      And capper has a real job, as you would know if you really could read this blog.

      Go away and make up your s*it elsewhere. The grownups are having a discussion here.

    2. Anonymous 4:12 -

      The truth hurts, don't it? But it will set Wisconsin free.

  8. Crapper, you have no clue as to what is really going and all this stuff is just a wet dream that it will bring Walker down. This investigation has gone on forever and is just a witch hunt. This will be absolutely hilarious when this finally finishes and Walker is re-elected to another term as Governor!

    1. A couple of hundred THOUSAND $$ is a lot of attorney fees for a guy that's suppose to be squeaky clean. Time will tell :)