Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Walkergate: Looking Up Some Old Friends

Here's a couple of things to keep the appetite for all things Walkergate whetted:

Well, Hello Kelly, Part II

Remember how Kelly Rindfleisch and her attorney, Frank Gimbel, kept trying to argue that she had universal immunity which protected her through all time and space?  As I had predicted, they were denied.

Undaunted, they tried again, this time using the Kastiger maneuver. (Kastiger is Universal Immunity in legalese, or something like that.)

The Honorable David Hansher said that he'd have his decision last Friday. He was a few days late with it, but that's OK.

The ruling was still MOTION DENIED.

Is Russell A Marked Man?

On Monday, we learned the identity of Tim Russell's fifth attorney. He's a young lawyer named Parker Mathers.

However, we knew precious little about him other than he graduated from Marquette University in 2010.

Then a savvy reader picked up on his name being affiliated with some events on Barack Obama's event page.

Tuesday afternoon, Dan Bice confirmed that Mathers had been a former field operative for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. From what I have learned on my own, he was involved in GOTV kind of work.

The remarkable thing is that out of Russell's five attorneys, all but one has been Democrats or have Democratic leanings. The only one who was Republican was Dennis Krueger, his last one before Mathers, who got kicked off the case when it was revealed that he secretly had taken a job as a state prosecutor in Fond du Lac County.

It gives one pause to wonder if Russell is deliberately picking Democratic attorneys. It could be that he is angling to get a plea bargain and figures that a Democratic attorney might be able to get him a better deal. Or it could be that he is concerned that Walker would find out what his intentions are and try to interfere in some way.

Then again, it could be that Walker put out the word to Republican lawyers to stay clear of Russell although that seems rather counter intuitive. I'd think Walker would be trying to get an inside scoop to what's happening so that his handlers could get a step on their spin and possibly set Russell up to the be the patsy.

A third possibility would be that the Republican attorneys are purposely avoiding the case so they don't get taken down with this lot of unethical weasels.

Speaking of Dennis Krueger

When it came to light that Krueger had taken a job as a state prosecutor in Fond du Lac County, Judge Hansher was fit to be tied and told Kreuger that he was considering filing a complaint against him.

Now Krueger has a second high profile case in a mess and another judge mad as hell at him:
Wasserman called Krueger "a mole" working for the state among the defense. The defense strategy was not only acquired by the state via Krueger, the motion read, "it was formulated by the state through and by Krueger."

At a hearing July 23, Krueger withdrew from the Cullen case, but not before he took heat from Circuit Judge David Borowski. who said he was considering a complaint to the Office of Lawyer Regulation. When he asked Krueger how he thought he could apply for a prosecutor's job and accept it while actively representing Cullen in plea negotiations, Krueger had no answer.

"To say 'I don't have an explanation' is not acceptable," Borowski said. He told Krueger, "You and your office in Fond du Lac have some explaining to do."

He gave the state two weeks to respond to Wasserman's motion.
And While We're Talking About Laywers

I've questioned before just how Rindfleisch is able to afford a high caliber, high cost attorney like Franklyn Gimbel. I've heard Walker has his people, including campaign manager Keith Gilke doing some fundraising on the side for Kelly.

But could there be other things at play?

Gimbel is the chairman of the Wisconsin Center District board. His appointment expired three months ago. One would think that Scott Walker would want to put his own people in there immediately, as he is wont to do everywhere else. Or are there other considerations at play here?

One thing we know is that Rindfleisch probably isn't paying for Gimbel's legal services on her own. She's not very good at doing an honest day's work.

Collateral Damage

There's been a couple of stories that resulted in the fallout of Walkergate that should be addressed. This is as just as good a place and time as any.

When Tim Russell was arrested and charged, it was mentioned in the criminal complaint against him that another higher ranking county official, Jim Tietjen, was part of Russell's phony group which was allegedly handling the funds for Operation Freedom.

Tietjen denied any knowledge of being on the board of this group and the issue was dropped. Or so we thought.

The DA's office apparently found stuff. Although the powers that be deemed it not to be enough for prosecution, it was an offense worth getting fired over, and maybe costing him his pension:
It's a violation of county ethics rules for officials to take money or gifts from someone seeking county business. Email and video evidence showed Tietjen's landscape employees were doing work for two county vendors, according to the memo, written by Hector Colon, who heads the county's Department of Health and Human Services.

Tietjen said that work wasn't a payback for a county contract. He said he has nothing to do with county procurement.

"I put nothing in my pocket," he said.

Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern declined to comment Monday on whether prosecutors were investigating Tietjen. County Auditor Jerome Heer said he couldn't comment on a review of a personnel matter.

Numerous emails sent over the past year and uncovered by county officials found that Tietjen was doing work on his landscaping business during his county workday. Tietjen admitted doing so when he was confronted, according to the memo by Colon, who is Tietjen's boss.

Tietjen also had his work email forwarded to his county email account, "thus allowing him to do his personal business during county time," Colon's memo says.

Tietjen said his son had his Duke's Landscaping email forwarded to his county account. The elder Tietjen said he didn't know how to change it back. Besides, he's put in many extra hours for the county that would far offset any time spent reading email for his landscaping business, he said.

Tietjen also was fired for ordering a subordinate to solicit money from county vendors for "Operation Freedom," an annual picnic for veterans at the Milwaukee County Zoo hosted by Gov. Scott Walker while he was county executive, according to the Colon memo.

Tietjen acknowledged he had done that but said it was six or more years ago when Walker was county executive. Tietjen said no pressure was put on any county vendor to donate to the veterans' event.

Tietjen's "numerous violations" of county rules "warrant immediate termination," Colon wrote in the memo Friday - the day Tietjen was terminated.
What's not been reported anywhere else is that as soon as this story hit the newsstands, one of his top subordinates retired immediately. Another subordinate quit for unknown reasons, but speculation is that it was somehow tied to Tietjen's firing.

More recently, another Walker appointee, Freida Webb, just got suspended from her job and is accused of embezzling money meant to go to minority-owned vendors.

However there is another story regarding how Milwaukee County has to pay back the feds for improperly used HUD funding which should shoot of alarms for even the most obtuse person:
Two of the improper allocations went to the county's Community Development Business Partners, whose director Freida Webb was arrested and briefly jailed July 19. The county's repayment included nearly $28,000 directed to Webb's program and $18,400 the county gave to the Milwaukee Urban League for work on the same program.

Webb helped create a phony contract for classes to help aspiring minority and female contractors get certified for the county's disadvantaged business contracting program, according to court records. She also participated in a double-billing scheme involving a local contractor and took kickbacks totaling $3,430 from the contractor, according to an affidavit by an investigator for the district attorney's office. Webb was suspended without pay from her $82,000 a year job pending the outcome of an ongoing criminal investigation.


County Executive Chris Abele said his administration pursued reforms after it was made aware of HUD concerns late last year.

"Due to a lack of administrative oversight of the CDBG program by prior administrations, several ineligible projects were approved and funded in previous years," Abele said in a statement. A more objective process for reviewing and approving applicants for block grant aid was put in place, he said.

The county's list of 2011 projects for HUD funding was developed in 2010 by Timothy Russell, who was then the county housing director. Russell faces unrelated felony embezzlement charges in Circuit Court.
I had heard rumors a long long time ago that Russell might have been inappropriately diverting HUD funding for illegal purposes, but couldn't find anything to verify that. It just might be time to make another look into that.

Heh. I guess there was more than what I had originally thought. I should've known. A wise man once said that with all things Walker, there's more. There's always more.


  1. THANK YOU for this update/summary.

  2. I second that. Thanks.

  3. Glad to see the Kastigar thing was denied, because it didn't seem a very ethical or fair way to do things. How the heck do you get immunity for life?

  4. Great update! Please keep 'em coming.

  5. Any possibility Russell is purposely putting together a defense team that he can later claim did not give him an adequate defense, citing clear differences in political leanings? Just one more thing to slow down the process?

    1. Russell will file an appeal unless he does a plea bargain. But he won't be able to use that complaint to delay these proceedings.

  6. Hmmmm. As I read this, I thought why would someone risk an 82k job for such small amounts. Then I read that Tim Russell created the list... We need an audit. There's more.

  7. The County Housing Director would have had plenty of room for grifting through the Section 8 program, for instance; granting excessive rent increases for multi-unit apartments to select landlords in return for contributions to boss Walker.

    There is also the potential for excessive use of HUD funds to attend conventions, conferences and seminars in exotic locations, while falsifying records to cover the expenses of your partner on such trips. If left unsupervised --a way of life in Walkerland-- the sky is the limit.

  8. Any word on when Walker will be indicted? I'm curious to see how big this trail of political favors, grift and cronyism ends up!

  9. Dates of interest for the Walker Five:

    Tim Russell
    16AUG2012 - Status Conference
    03DEC2012 - Jury Trial

    Kelly Rindfleisch
    20AUG2012 - Motion Hearing
    15OCT2012 - Jury Trial

    Darlene Wink
    21NOV22012 - Sentencing Hearing

    Kevin Kavanaugh
    04SEP2012 - Final pre-trial
    08OCT2012 - Jury Trial

    Brian Pierick
    13AUG2012 - Hearing

    It really seems Russell has had the most action of all the players. Russell also happens to have been the lynchpin in Walker's operations in Milwaukee. Anybody else find it odd that we haven't heard anything about Pierick or Kavanaugh? They'd both potentially have info on Russell, as Pierick was his life-partner and Kavanaugh managed the fraudulent accounts before Russell did (and they both also worked for Walker)...

    They've also said they're holding off on Wink sentencing until the other cases are brought to light...which brings something else up:

    They moved Wink's sentencing past the trial of Rindfleisch, but kept it before the trial of Russell. This would indicate that they don't intend for Wink to testify against Russell, but instead against Rindfleisch (at least in the cases we know of). If this is the case, it would lead me to believe that Russell may have already gotten some kind of deal to avoid Wink testifying against him, with perhaps he and Wink testifying against Rindfleisch and, perhaps, others yet to be named....Then again, Russell was Rindfleisch's boss until he went to the Housing Dept and Rindfleisch was promoted to DCOS.....thoughts?

    1. Wink is for both Rindfleisch and Russell and maybe others, as you stated. Given the delay in Russell's trial, I would expect her sentencing to be also delayed, unless he cops a plea bargain before then.